A drone flies over a volcano for live TV, Alibaba tests drone package delivery, more Section 333 exemptions, drones for real estate, and a poll shows Americans want regulations.
ABC’s Good Morning America television show flew two quadcopters over the erupting Bardarbunga Volcano in central Iceland. And they broadcast the video live on national TV. Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging, was on hand to operate the main quadcopter while a chase DJI provided additional coverage.
The live video of the volcano was spectacular. This wasn’t a puff piece – it was a very public demonstration of using a drone for science. With last week’s drone crash on the White House lawn, and now this, public awareness of small drones is increasing.
The Wall Street Journal calls Alibaba, “China’s — and by some measures, the world’s — biggest online commerce company.” With e-commerce activity of $248B, it’s bigger than eBay and Amazon.com combined.
Now Alibaba is conducting a three day package delivery test for customers that are within a one-hour flight by quadcopter from their warehouses in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They’ve posted a promotional video online.
Exemptions under Section 333 were issued to Total Safety U.S. Inc. for flare stack inspections, Slugwear, Inc. (dba LikeOnATree Aerial) for aerial photography and surveys. Team 5, LLC; Shotover Camera Systems LP; Helinet Aviation Services, LLC; and Alan D. Purwin were given an exemption for film and television production. This brings the total number of exemptions to 24.
As with the last round of exemptions, “the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”
The FAA says they have received 342 requests for exemptions from commercial entities and individuals.
Real estate video and production firm Burnz Eye View received an exemption from the FAA in January. Mark Burns started the company 3 years ago and has a team of 15 in San Diego. With the exemption, he wants to expand to cover the entire U.S. To do that, he needs pilots. Specifically, UAV operators that have private pilot’s licenses or multi-hour experience flying UAVs. An understanding of platform maintenance will also be needed.
A Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 2,000 people conducted Jan. 21-27, 2015 showed that 73 percent of the respondents said they want regulations for small drones. Forty-two percent oppose private ownership of drones. They think they should be restricted to officials or other experts. Thirty percent were OK with private drone ownership, and 28 percent were undecided.
Video of the Week
This interesting aerial tour of Iowa’s capital city was sent in by listener Bill, who raises some questions about the safety of flying in proximity to buildings and crowded events.