Written by on Feb 13, 2013. Posted in On Location

California helicopter filming deaths reignite unmanned camera drone debate

A fatal helicopter crash in Los Angeles County has reignited safety concerns about the TV industry and prompted debate about the potential use of unmanned camera drones for aerial work. Three people were killed in the crash while filming a reality TV show for the Discovery Channel.

There’s a long-term debate in the US about the use of remote-operated camera drones for aerial filming (like the Heliguy x8, pictured below on a shoot for Aldi in Australia). Using these systems would remove the risk to human life inherent to helicopter work but a lack of operating guidelines means they can’t be used in the US for commercial purposes.

Howard Gantman is with the Motion Picture Association of America and spoke to BuzzFeed about lobbying for the commercial use of drones in US airspace: “Right now, we're interested in having some good common-sense regulations for what's essentially a small helicopter. It's a couple [of] years' overdue already.”

Privacy groups are calling for measures to ensure that drone technology cannot be abused as a form of mass aerial surveillance. Either way, commercial use could be legalised in the US within the next couple of years.

(Heliguy x8 photo courtesy of Aaron Crothers)


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