To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Sep. 26: FAA Grants Movie Companies Exemption To Commercial UAV Ban
Date: Fri Sep 26 12:03:52 MDT 2014
Policy News - State
FAA Grants Movie Companies Exemption To Commercial UAV Ban.
USA Today (9/25, Jansen) reports that the FAA “cracked open the door Thursday to commercial drones in the continental USA by” granting six movie companies “exemptions to a general ban on commercial drones,” marking a “significant step as the agency develops comprehensive rules for drones to share the skies with passenger planes, an effort likely to take years.” The announcement was made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and Christopher Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. Foxx said, “These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance. ... As we’ve seen, uses for unmanned aircraft are only limited by our imagination.” Huerta added , “We are thoroughly satisfied these operations will not pose a hazard to other aircraft or to people and property on the ground,”
On the front page of its business section, the New York (NY) Times (9/25, B1, Barnes, Subscription Publication) reports that with the announcement, the “use of drones in American skies took a leap forward” as “this is the first time that companies in the United States will be able to legally use drones to fly over people.” According to the article, the ruling will have implications for the agriculture, energy, and real estate industries, as well as for the news media and online retailing. Greg Cirillo, chairman of the aviation practice at a Washington law firm said, “While the approval for Hollywood is very limited in scope, it’s a message to everyone that this ball is rolling.” Huerta stated that there are at least 40 similar applications pending from companies outside of Hollywood. Notably, the article pointed out that “some aviation-safety advocates and other watchdog group” opposed the waivers due to concern over air crashes.
The Los Angeles (CA) Times (9/25, Verrier) points out that the FAA already allows law enforcement and other public safety agencies to use UAV. The LATimes also says the ruling will be welcomed by the entertainment industry and the Motion Picture Association of America.
In its “The Switch” blog, the Washington (DC) Post (9/25, Fung) adds that the UAV pilots will be required to have private pilot certificates, and that drones themselves would have to be kept “within the closed area of the set and within the operator’s line of sight at all times.” Furthermore, the UAVs will not be allowed to “fly higher than 400 feet and won’t be able to operate at night.”
The (9/26, Beech) Wall Street Journal (9/25, Nicas, Subscription Publication), Reuters (9/26, Beech), Ars Technica (9/26), the San Fernando Valley (CA) Business Journal (9/25), IndieWire (9/26), AP (9/26, Lowry), Voice of America (9/26), NBC News (9/26), Gizmodo (9/26), Southern California Public Radio (9/25), Variety (9/26), Bloomberg News (9/26, Levin), Mashable (9/25), Politico (9/26, Wolfe), BBC News (9/26), Wired (9/26), Reuters (9/26, Beech, Scott), and other media sources also covered the story.
New York Bond Initiative Would Give Districts Money To Improve Technology.
The Lower Hudson Valley (NY) Journal News (9/25, Wilson) reports New York voters will have the opportunity to decide on a ballot initiative in November that would let the state borrow $2 billion for technology for classrooms and high-tech security. The Smart Schools Bond Act will allocate funds to school districts based on need to let them implement wireless networks or upgrade existing technologies. Critics say that the “take-it-or-leave-it” one-time spending deal is bound to be inefficient as districts will be getting money earmarked for items that may be low on their priority list.
Policy News - Federal
NAM Urges Obama To Press Indian Prime Minister For Better Trade Policies.
Politico Pro (9/26, Subscription Publication) reports that the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and 15 other business groups said in a letter to President Obama, “Since taking office, Prime Minister Modi has declared India ‘open for business’ and promised to incentivize investment and ‘give the world a favorable opportunity’ to trade with and produce in India. If these bold statements can be translated into concrete action, it will be to the benefit of both our countries.” The letter urged Obama to “press” Modi “to reverse course on what they say are troubling policies” for the business community. The letter also noted that Modi’s Administration “has pursued troubling policies of its own” and that “these actions send perplexing and contradictory new signals about India’s role in the global marketplace.”
Reuters (9/25) reports that the US business groups questioned Modi’s commitment to reforming India’s business climate in a letter sent to President Obama ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit. The letter pointed out that India has raised tariffs and created troublesome testing requirements for information and communication products. NAM Senior Director of International Business Policy Chris Moore said during a teleconference that India is “saying positive things. But their actions tell a different story.”
Levin Says F-35 Still Has Strong Support.
Defense News (9/25, Bennett) reports that during a breakfast with reporters, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin said that there is still “basically fairly strong support” for the F-35 in Congress, which should remain as long as there is “no major disruption” to the program. While Levin did note there have been “bumps” in the program, he expected there to be more support as the program advances.
Lockheed: First Version Of F-35 Will Be Combat-Ready Next Year. Reuters (9/25, Koranyi) reports that Lockheed Martin said on Thursday that despite the need to still fix an engine issue, the first version of its F-35 could be ready for combat operations next year. Chris Flynn, a Pratt & Whitney vice-president for the F-35 engine program, added that while a root cause has yet to be found, engineers fundamentally know what happened, so the fix should not be too complex.
F-35 To Begin Carrier Trials In November. Defense News (9/25, Mehta) reports that Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, said that the F-35 will start trials aboard a Navy aircraft carrier in November, although some of the details “as to what may be tested” need to be worked out. According to the article, there has been “mixed news” this past week for the program, with news about greater-than-estimated sustainment costs and South Korea officially signing on for an order of 40 F-35As.
FAA’s Nield Says Report Doesn’t Indicate Impending Regulation Of Spaceflight.
Space News (9/25, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports that George Nield, FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, told a COMSTAC meeting that a report by FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, titled “Recommended Practices for Human Space Flight Occupant Safety,” is intended to support the development of standards by industry and isn’t part of an effort to impose regulations on this emerging field. “The primary purpose is to facilitate ongoing safety discussions among government, industry, and academia,” Nield said. The report “provides a framework that space vehicle developers and operators may find useful in preparing industry consensus standards.” The Space News notes that a restriction on the FAA to enact safety regulation on space travel expires in 2015 and that Nield has argued against extending that restriction.
Legal Limbo Hurting Planetary Mining Efforts.
BBC News (9/25, Siegelbaum) profiles Planetary Resources and president Chris Lewicki, whose company wants to mine asteroids for their “liquid gold:” water. Because of the cost of launching water into space, Lewicki and others believe that water mined in space can be very valuable for drinking water, breathable air, and even fuel. However, mining asteroids is still in “a legal grey area” that Lewicki said is already holding back investors and hurting Planetary Resources. Lewicki added that if Congress developed the appropriate laws, then his company could move “even more aggressively,” especially as companies are ready to conduct mining operations now, and not decades into the future.
Airbus A30neo Makes Its First Flight.
USA Today (9/25, Mutzabaugh) reported that the Airbus A320neo successfully completed its first flight on Thursday, spending over two hours in the air. Airbus said that this starts a “rigorous flight test campaign” that will involve eight planes and all A320 models. Currently, the A320neo is expected to enter service next year.
Reuters (9/25, Hepher) noted that the A320neo also flew with a new jet engine from Pratt & Whitney. According to the article, analysts believe that if Airbus and Boeing, with its 737 MAX, have good entries into service, they will maintain their leadership in the narrowbody market.
Officials Mandate Dreamliner Fire-Suppression System Fix.
The Wall Street Journal (9/25, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) reported that in order to ensure that Dreamliner fire-suppression systems work properly, Boeing and the FAA agreed to a mandatory replacement of some foam-like blocks that are designed to prevent chemicals from being dispersed too quickly. The FAA said that the issue was “determined to be miscalculated pressure exposures during design.” According to the article, this announcement shows that Boeing is still dealing with some of the plane’s early problems.
New Crew Arrives At The ISS.
The AP (9/25) reports that a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with astronaut Barry Wilmore and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutayev and Elena Servova successfully launched and docked at the ISS. The article notes that NASA is moving away from the “period of expensive dependence on Russian spacecraft” for manned launches with a recent contract award to SpaceX and Boeing.
Next ISS Cargo Mission From Wallops Now Launching On October 20.
The Delmarva (MD) Daily Times (9/25, Vaughn) reports that the next Orbital Science cargo mission to the ISS will take place “no earlier than Monday, Oct. 20,” instead of October 14 as previously announced. If the launch of the Antares rocket from the Wallops flight Facility takes place on time, the Cygnus cargo spacecraft should arrive at the ISS on October 25. According to the article, the last time that the Antares rocket launched, there was “a large summertime crowd watching from the NASA Wallops Visitor Center,” as well as “hundreds” looking on from other local spots.
Wallops Growth Brings Housing Boom. The Delmarva (MD) Public Radio (9/25, Hunt) reports that there has been a “housing boom” in Delmarva because of the increased activity at Wallops. According to the article, realtor Dale King said this was a “boon” to business in the region.
Sierra Nevada Pushing Forward With Dream Chaser Despite Contract Loss.
Florida Today (9/25, Dean) continues coverage on how Sierra Nevada Space Systems, after losing out on NASA’s commercial crew contract to launch astronauts to the ISS, is cutting some of the staff that is working on the Dream Chaser. Despite the loss, the company does plan to continue working on the spacecraft “through a first spaceflight.” It will also try “pitch” it as a new cargo spacecraft for missions to the ISS when it issues a call for the next round of contracts. According to the article, Sierra Nevada believes that its Dream Chaser space plane, which can land on a runway, is “better suited for returning sensitive science experiments” from the station than a capsule like SpaceX’s.
Aviation Week (9/25) reports that Mark Sirangelo, who heads the space system unit, said that the company may file a protest with the Government Accountability Office on “financial and technical grounds.”
Boeing Plans To Hire Around Houston To Work on Commercial Crew Project. The Houston Business Journal (9/25, Martin, Subscription Publication) reported that after winning NASA’s commercial crew contract, Boeing plans to initially hire “100 high-tech employees” for its Houston operations, with many of those hired expected to come from the region. Chris Ferguson, the director of crew and mission systems for Boeing, said that some of the 100 would come from within Boeing. According to the article, the contract that Boeing, and also SpaceX, won begins “a new chapter for the United States in space travel.”
Lockheed Martin CEO Outlines Company’s Collaboration, STEM Initiatives.
Speaking at the Lockheed Martin Fellows Conference on Wednesday, the ExecutiveBiz (9/25, Forrester) “Featured” blog reports that Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson outlined the company’s “planned strategy for technology initiatives” as she urged greater collaboration and innovation “among Lockheed’s engineering, scientific and technical workforce.” Hewson also highlighted new STEM education efforts.
Thursday's Lead Stories
• FAA To Issue First UAV-Use Permits To Filmmakers.
• Report Finds That NextGen’s Costs Exceeds Its Benefits.
• Airlines Still Want Plane Makers To Develop New Narrowbody Models.
• Former President Clinton Chats With ISS Astronauts During Foundation Event.
• Boeing Opening New Research Center In North Charleston, South Carolina.