Night Drone footage on Sports Network

Luke Dillon

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Hi everyone, I live in Colorado and work in sports television and also have my Part 107 certificate. While watching the Jazz/Nuggets game last night on another network I do not work for, I saw what looked to be drone footage used at night time. This is obviously against FAA rules unless there was a waiver approved by the FAA. Knowing the industry I work in, I am assuming that a waiver was not approved (obviously not 100%). 

I have attached a photo.

I am asking the community a few things.

1. Do you think this is drone footage? To me this shot does not look like a helicopter.

2. Would it be considered commercial footage if used during a live broadcast?

2. In your opinion, what should be the next steps? Report this to the FAA? Try to reach out to the sports network and ask them about the footage

3. Should I do nothing?

As we know, there are many people that are not following FAA regulations, but for a television network not to follow the rules is very disconcerting.

Thank you.


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From that single still shot taken off your tv, there is no way to even attempt a guess. If it was shot from a drone for broadcast purposes, yes it would be considered commercial.  Night waivers are very common and there is a good chance it was in play here, that is if it was a drone shot at all. As far as what to do - there is little likelihood that FAA will do anything about it so instead, I would watch the Georgia Alabama game Monday night. 

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That could be footage shot from a helicopter, it could be shot from a building, it might even be drone footage.  If it shot from a drone maybe they have a waiver, I believe the FAA has issued a lot of waivers to fly after dark, I don’t know, do you?  If you saw your competitors production vehicle speeding on the freeway would you report it?  

As far as what to do, show this to the management of your station pointing out how cool it is and you think you should be doing a similar thing for your company.  If they ignore you go to work for the competition. 

This type of question comes up often, there are people who think the community should police itself and report this type of activity.  If you know the circumstance of how they got this shot then its your decision.  The only way you might know how they accomplished this was if you witnessed them shooting it, if so why wouldn’t you just ask them what they were doing?  Anything  else is speculation.

I don’t like that people are willing to “break the rules” to be competitive, shows a certain lack of ethics.  I like it even less when 107 operators want to leverage their certificate to win business, to me it shows a certain lack of integrity. 

With a simple $150 test the FAA has turned this industry into a “granny state.”  I guess we all have to decide how to deal with this issue, personally I’d rather win business because I’m good at what I do.  

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