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Meet the Only 3 Companies that the FAA Allows to Fly Over Pe…

Before final month the FAA had solely issued 4 waivers to fly over folks—two to CNN, and two to FLIR.

But in September a 3rd firm, Project Wing, was issued a 107.39 waiver, after which simply final week CNN was issued their third such waiver, growing the complete depend of those waivers by a 3rd. (We’ve additionally heard rumors of a fourth firm very shut to being issued a 107.39 waiver . . . however extra on that when it’s official.)

Image supply

So what’s occurring? Is the FAA getting extra lax, or are firms simply getting higher at making use of?

Let’s take a better look.

Note: A waiver to fly over folks is often known as a 107.39 waiver, because it waives the prohibition of flying over folks lined in part 107.39 of the FAA’s Part 107 guidelines for small unmanned plane.

Who Are the Three Companies with 107.39 Waivers?

We’re first going to overview the three firms that have been accredited to fly over folks, after which check out CNN’s three 107.39 waivers to see what we are able to study the utility course of, and the way it might need modified since the first 107.39 waiver was issued.

CNN, FLIR, and Project Wing have all been issued 107.39 waivers. CNN has three of them, FLIR has two, and Project Wing has one.

Here are all of the 107.39 waivers that have been issued to date, organized from oldest to latest:



CNN was the first firm ever to be granted a waiver to fly over folks as a part of the FAA’s Pathfinder Program. However, that first 107.39 waiver solely allowed them to fly 21 toes in the air, so it actually made extra for good PR than for precise use.

In some ways, CNN has helped construct the system to make flights over folks permissible, by creating insurance policies and tips, in addition to detailed specs for the drone they plan to use in every occasion, all of which have served to handle the acute security issues that come together with flying over folks.

The second 107.39 waiver CNN obtained accredited a tethered drone over folks, which was nonetheless a restricted use case.

But their third and most present waiver is floor breaking in the drone trade, as a result of it permits operations over open-air assemblies (i.e., crowds) and flights up to an altitude of 150 toes above floor degree over folks.

This waiver signifies a essential step ahead not just for CNN’s UAS operations, but in addition the business UAS trade at massive.

– David Vigilante, senior vp of authorized for CNN

Here are CNN’s three 107.39 waivers, in case you’d like to have a look:


FLIR is a frontrunner in the area of sensing options. They create thermal imaging programs, visible-light imaging programs, locator programs, measurement and diagnostic programs, and superior menace detection programs.

FLIR is exclusive in that they’re the solely firm to have been granted a bunch of different waivers simultaneous to their 107.39 waivers.

Check it out:


What do these different waivers permit? Here’s a listing:


The reality that FLIR obtained a waiver to fly a drone from a transferring automobile; to fly a drone past visible line of sight (BVLOS); and to fly over folks all of sudden is simply wild. Only a handful of different firms have been issued waivers to fly from a transferring automobile or BVLOS, not to point out over folks—FLIR managed to get all three at the identical time.

We reached out to FLIR just lately to ask what all of those waivers had been getting used for, however haven’t heard again but. We’ll be sure to replace you if we do.

Here are FLIR’s two 107.39 waivers, in case you’d like to have a look:

Project Wing

Project Wing is a drone supply firm owned by Alphabet, the dad or mum firm of Google.

We reached out to them to ask what they deliberate to do with their model new 107.39 waiver, which was issued one month in the past, on September 25th. They didn’t have any public information to share, however did say, “We’re really excited about the opportunities [the waiver] opens for us to do more complex flight testing in the U.S.”

Project Wing just lately made headlines for the launch of their yard supply program in Australia, the place they’re testing the supply of burritos and different meals in a distant space of the Australian Capital Territory.


If the Australia program is any indicator, Project Wing is wanting to do comparable issues in the supply area in the U.S.

Despite the latest worldwide successes of different drone supply firms like Flytrex, with their supply program in Iceland, and Matternet, with their upcoming supply program in Switzerland, it looks as if the one drone supply firm with a 107.39 waiver might nicely have a leg up when it comes to each testing and truly transferring issues ahead with the FAA.

Here is Project Wing’s 107.39 waiver, in case you’d like to have a look:

What Can We Learn from Existing 107.39 Waivers?

Note: The content material in the part that follows first appeared on the Drone Pilot Ground School web site.

Since CNN has three 107.39 waivers, let’s check out the development in the language from their very first waiver, which was issued on August 29, 2016, to their third waiver, which was issued only a few weeks in the past on October 13, 2017, to see what we are able to be taught.

Supporting Documentation

One of the first stuff you discover when studying CNN’s first 107.39 waiver, which is the very first waiver ever granted by the FAA to fly over folks, is that CNN has basically invented the requisite supplies to reveal the duty, preparedness, and system necessities mandatory for flying over folks (presumably in collaboration with the FAA, as a member of the Pathfinder Program).

In CNN’s first 107.39 waiver, the FAA references seven completely different supporting paperwork submitted to help CNN’s utility:

  • CNN UAS Operations Manual
  • Concept of Operations
  • Operational Risk Assessment
  • Fotokite Pro Operator Guide
  • Fotokite Pro Specification Sheet
  • Fotokite Safety Datasheet
  • RTI Fotokite Report

In the second waiver, none of those assets are talked about (presumably as a result of they’re already on file).

And then, in CNN’s third 107.39 waiver, we see that these assets have modified and at the moment are listed as:

  • CNN UAS Operations Manual (model 1.eight)
  • CNN Vantage Robotics Snap Concept of Operations (CONOPS)
  • CNN Operational Risk Assessment for the Vantage Robotics Snap (ORA)
  • CNN Supplemental Letter in Support of Waiver Request to Operate the Snap UAS Over People

It’s value noting the emphasis in all of those supporting supplies on the UAS itself.

For CNN’s first waiver, 4 of the seven paperwork listed have to do with the Fotokite drone, and in the record of paperwork for CNN’s third waiver, two of the 4 paperwork listed have to do with the Snap drone.

Broadening Scope, Tightening Definitions

Moving ahead, one other factor you discover if you examine CNN’s first two waivers is that the FAA grows extra permissive in the second waiver, but in addition far more centered of their definitions and allowances.

Here are some examples:

  • While the first waiver solely permits for flights 21 toes in the air, the second permits for flying greater (though we don’t appear to discover a particular cap on the top allowed).
  • While the first waiver typically permits flying over folks and solely prohibits “operations over open-air assemblies”, the second waiver solely permits flying over sure folks, i.e. Direct Participants and Persons Authorized (every designation has a selected definition).
  • While the first waiver comprises 18 provisions, the second one comprises 29, with many sub-provisions. One huge trigger for the extension of provisions in the second waiver is the inclusion of far more granular data concerning gear upkeep, record-keeping, and the kinds of data to be recorded prior to flying and following malfunctions.

So what can we be taught from all of this?

It looks as if firms are getting higher at making use of for 107.39 waivers, and it additionally looks as if the FAA is getting higher at supporting firms towards profitable purposes.

Which is all to say that there’ll in all probability be extra 107.39 waivers issued in the close to future.

We know of not less than one firm that’s proper on the cusp of being granted a waiver to fly over folks . . . however our lips are sealed till the information is made public.

Stay tuned for extra!

Zacc Dukowitz

Director of Marketing

Zacc Dukowitz is the Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A author with skilled expertise in training expertise and digital advertising, Zacc is enthusiastic about reporting on the drone trade at a time when UAVs may help us stay higher lives. Zacc additionally holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial artwork, and is a broadly printed fiction author. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John’s College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or try zaccdukowitz.com to learn his work.

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