We all are familiar with the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules dictate that 3D Robotics drone pilots are not allowed to fly drones near airports, lest they interfered with the aircrafts. However, the FAA has issued waivers for drone flights at smaller airports. But until now, it never authorized drone flights in class B airspace that encompasses a few dozen major airports.
3D Robotics drone (3DR) were granted permission on January 10, 2017 to conduct drone flights at a major airport under the new part 107 commercial drone rules according to a report by Recode.
Seven flights were performed by 3DR at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which was termed as the world’s busiest airport in 2015. It had more than 100 million passengers in that year. 3DR was supposed to collect data on a couple of four-story parking structures that a construction was hired to demolish. Approximately 700 images of a 40-acre section of the airport were captured by 3DR.
3DR shared in a blog post that FAA bound them to ensure that the flight team remained in constant contact with the ATL flight control tower during the drone flights and carry out all the data collection under the supervision of the control tower.
They further elaborate that since the site was located in the controlled airspace of an international airport, so the 3D Robotics drone team utilized the new FAA online portal to solicit permission for the drone flights.
As part of the airspace authorization process, 3DR along with the Atkins were able to convince the FAA that drone flights in such a sensitive location between runways could be carried out safely using SiteScan, which is 3DR’s automated aerial data capture platform. The FAA then contacted the ATL flight control tower and afterwards granted airspace authorization for aerial data capture on the construction sites.
The waivers for flying drones near busy airports were issued for the first time by FAA on December 5, 2016. This was a joint venture of 3D Robotics drone, Autodesk, Atkins and the Department of Aviation of the City of Atlanta that involved FAA-approved commercial drone operation.