CNN Gets FAA Approval to Test Drones for News Gathering

Posted on January 14, 2015

CNN announced it has worked out a deal with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows it to test Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (also known as drones) for news gathering purposes. CNN says the FAA will use data collected to see build a framework for the safe use of drones by the media. A time frame for the launch of the tests has not yet been announced.

CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante says in a statement, "Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups. Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace."

The National Journal reports that the announcement follows the FAA's ban on UAVs for commercial use. A group of media companies argued that the ban had an "impermissible chilling effect on the First Amendment newsgathering rights of journalists."

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says in the CNN announcement, "Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System."

The drones used by the media will not be the drones used by hobbyists in the $50 to $100 price range. Engadget suggests they will be professional drones like the DJI Inspire 1 (pictured above), which costs around $2,900 and carries a 4K camera. The media drones will also likely be required to have the logo of the news network on them. These drones would certainly help news networks gather news video. They would be much cheaper than helicopters. At the the same time we can understand the FAA's reluctance for the skies to suddenly be filled with news gathering drones. Here is a video of the Inspire 1:

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