San Francisco, CA – Before this season started, we told you about a new drone video service partnering with ski resorts across the U.S. Now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted an amendment to Cape Productions’ existing Section 333 exemption for commercial drone operations in the U.S., making the company the first operator in the country authorized to fly drones within 500 feet of customers and in an area wider than a closed set. Operations will now begin this month at U.S. ski resorts partnering with Cape.
“As the first consumer drone video service to launch in the U.S., Cape is excited to move forward under the FAA’s new grant and continue to serve as a leader in the commercial drone industry,” said Jason Soll, CEO of Cape Productions. “This decision paves the way for Cape’s continued growth and reach into a wide variety of action sports, and also sets the foundation for an entirely new category of legal drone operations in the U.S. Cape now has the ability to offer applications for both consumers and businesses that were impossible under the standard aerial data collection and closed set filming Section 333 exemptions that other operators currently work under.”
Cape strikes revenue sharing agreements with participating ski resorts, and offers to film skiing or snowboarding guests for a fee.
The FAA’s amendment clarifies and streamlines the regulatory requirements governing Cape’s service and places the company’s operations in a unique class apart from other companies authorized to perform outdoor aerial data collection and closed set filming. Previous decisions forbade drone operations closer than 500 feet to anyone other than the pilot and visual observer (for aerial data collection exemptions) or persons on a closed set, all of whom have consented to be involved in and are necessary to the film production (for closed set filming exemptions). Unlike those decisions, Cape’s new grant explicitly allows the company to fly drones in an area wider than a closed set and near people participating in the intended purpose of the drone’s operation, including skiers, provided they are briefed beforehand on the operations and provide consent.
“We have worked closely with the FAA since 2014 to ensure regulatory compliance of our service and are proud of our 100 percent safety record to date across thousands of flights around the world,” said Louis Gresham, President of Cape Productions. “Safety and compliance have been our top priority since Cape began providing drone services to customers, and we highly encourage any business or individual considering working with a drone company to check whether its operations are within the limitations of the company’s 333 exemption, and that all local, regional, and federal aviation requirements are met.”
Cape has filmed skiers in Canada since December 2014 with Transport Canada permission and in the U.S. since October 2015 under the closed set Section 333 exemption held by the company’s Director of Production, Jason Toth. Cape received its initial Section 333 exemption from the FAA in April 2015 for aerial data collection, and this amendment expands the original scope of that exemption.
Cape is currently operational at Squaw Valley Resort (Calif.), Homewood Mountain Resort (Calif.) and Fernie Alpine Resort in British Columbia, Canada. In the coming months, Cape also plans to be operational at Winter Park Resort (Colo.), Powder Mountain Resort (Utah), Timberline Lodge & Ski Area (Ore.), Mount Hood Meadows Resort (Ore.), Mountain Creek Resort (N.J.) and Schweitzer Mountain Resort (Idaho).