Update 9/25/2014 4:30pm ET: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday the Federal Aviation Administration has granted regulatory exemptions to six TV and film production companies to operate drones on sets: Astraeus Aerial, Aerial MOB, HeliVideo Productions, Pictorvision, RC Pro Productions Consulting, and Snaproll Media. The FAA has asked Flying-Cam, a company that applied for an application, to submit additional information. Operators are required to hold private pilot certificates and keep the vehicles within sight of all times.
Multiple reports suggest the Federal Aviation Administration will begin issuing drone-operating permits to filmmakers.
The Associated Press, Washington Post, and Forbes report the FAA is expected to announce the permits on Thursday, citing current and former governmental officials, attorneys, and a company familiar with the matter.
The permits will likely include stipulations, such as operation by a three-person crew, including a trained drone operator, and only on closed sets.
The FAA has guidelines in place for hobby drone operators, but a number of companies are eyeing the commercial drone space. Amazon and Google have both talked publicly about their plans to deliver packages via drone, and logistics company DHL is set to begin a pilot drone delivery program in Germany on Friday. But so far, the FAA, which only has jurisdiction in the U.S., has granted just two commercial drones licenses, both to oil companies operating autonomous aircraft in the Arctic.
The seven entertainment companies that filed applications with the FAA for these licenses are: Astraeus Aerial, Aerial Mob, Flying-Cam, Snaproll Media, Vortex Aerial, Pictorvision, and HeliVideo Productions.