In late July 2014 a group of more than thirty professors complained directly to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about their slow implementation of proper drone and helicam policy.
Why would college professors care about helicam use and regulations? According to an article from the Associated Press, "Restrictions on the use of small drones are likely to stifle academic research." (Lowy, 2014)
How would research be stifled by policies around drone use? It all has to do with the definition of air space. According to the rules, it is impossible for many scientists to use a flying camera or drone in the same ways as a hobbyist. Thus, says the group of professors in their official statement, "a 10-year-old hobbyist can freely fly model aircraft for recreation, while our nation's scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are prohibited from using the same technology in the same types of environments."
This is even more frustrating when it is made clear that so many of these professionals have become helicam experts through their long use and development of the drone technologies. In fact, some of them have actually created software and hardware to improve drone and flying camera tech.
These are the groups that have designed software to allow craft to fly safely and autonomously, to have extra capabilities such as thermal cameras, and so on. They are aerial filming experts without the authority to operate as such.
The Need for Helicam Use
Those unfamiliar with the use of helicam gear should make note that they are not just devices meant for fun and recreation. Though they are indeed, enjoyable and definitely creative equipment when used for aerial filming, they can be used for a tremendous number of more beneficial purposes.
As a simple example, an accurate list of groups that use drone and helicam technology might include weather pattern experts, aeronautic engineers, farming and agricultural experts, geologists, land surveyors, conservationists, air dynamic experts, and so many more.
This is why there is a thorough need for helicam experts and clear cut guidelines for them to follow - but also a bit of trust in these flying camera experts, as well. The scientific community, of course, is not the only one stunted by the restrictions of use on drone gear.
Recent headlines demonstrated that a well-known missing persons organization in Texas relied heavily on helicam equipment. The group had struggled under the restrictions and only recently began using the gear after a court ruling suggested that they could. Shortly after, another individual helicam owner was able to find a lost senior citizen in less than 30 minutes (after traditional searchers had been at work for three days).
There are some parts of the world in which flying camera equipment can be freely used. This is why one of the earliest groups of drone and helicam experts, Heli Video Pros operates from Vancouver, Canada. There they can help others around the world to learn about the latest and best flying camera tech (through their DJI store), their inventory of multi-rotor devices, their training opportunities, and their professional helicam services.
They are an ideal resource for those interested in learning about the latest innovations, keeping up with news about regulations and guidelines, and even becoming aerial filming experts through training. Until things are clear, scientists, creative types, entrepreneurs, and many others will have to dedicate their time to becoming helicam experts. This will enable them to jump right in and begin using the drone equipment to conduct studies, business, or make beautiful images as quickly as possible.
Lowy, Joan. Professors Object to FAA Restrictions on Drone Use. ABCNews.com. 2014. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/professors-object-faa-restrictions-drone-24735829