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Orlando-based CineDrones recently got the blessing of the FAA to operate drones at low levels for filming.
The new certification is believed to be the first in the U.S. for a drone model used by Cinedrones, the DJI INSPIRE 1, at or below 200 feet above ground level
“The FAA has said that commercial drone flight is illegal. So we applied for this to make sure we are fully legal,” said Mike Fortin, president and CEO of CineDrones. “This adds legitimacy to the business.”
Unfortunately, Fortin said filming in Florida is scarce right now because the state incentive dollars have dried up, so he is taking on new work in Atlanta, Louisiana and Los Angeles instead.
Fortin said CineDrones received a Certificate of Authorization, or CAO, for aerial cinematography for commercial, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flights. It allows them to shoot drone aerials on TV and movie sets without the need to apply for permission in advance.
Clients of CineDrones have included MTV, ABC, CBS Sports, NBC, and Volvo.
Fortin began as a hobbyist flying remote-control helicopters, and later drones with cameras. He started taking on paid work before the FAA declared commercial operation of drones illegal. Now he’s fully authorized for the work, and employs five people. He said two of them are licensed pilots.
“We’ve spent absurd amounts of money on the drones, training, insurance, offices and vehicles,” Fortin said.
Fortin said about 70 percent of his revenue comes from selling drones that are custom built for customers. The sales often include training also. The remainder of his revenue, about 30 percent, comes from aerial film production work, he said.
Copyright 2015, Orlando Sentinel