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Crews Control Crew gets FAA Section 333 Exemption for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Posted by Guest Blogger on February 23, 2015

How did they get that aerial shot?  You know the one that is too low for traditional helicopters but too high for cranes. Often the look is achieved with radio controlled aircrafts with any number of professional to prosumer cameras mounted on them. Many filmmakers and video production professionals own and operate these RC copters for commercial production use but the FAA draws a clear line in the sky as to who can fly them and under what conditions.

There are many names used in the production industry for these aircrafts but please don’t call them drones. The FAA has a clear distinction between drones and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) one of the biggest being that UAS must be flown with a line of sight from the operator to the aircraft at all times. In an Online Listening Session on April 3rd, 2013 Jim Williams, Manager, FAA UAS Integration Office said “The U.S. operations that the FAA authorizes today serve the public good and promote jobs. Today, UAS come in all shapes and sizes, from those that are as big as a 737 to some that will fit in the palm of your hand. UAS are used for such purposes as firefighting, search and rescue, disaster relief, border patrol, weather monitoring, hurricane tracking, and crime scene documentation.” In September of 2014 the FAA ruled that unmanned aircrafts will be allowed on film and TV shoots if operated by six Section 333 exempt companies with another forty companies under review.


The FAA has continued to approve aerial production companies and Jordy Klein Jr., Crews Control represented DP, has received confirmation that his company will receive the Section 333 exception. “Acquiring an FAA 333 waiver is a lot of work. It requires about 200-300 man hours and lots and lots of research and knowledge of writing operations manuals and pilot operating handbooks. Every aircraft must have a 30 plus page manual accompanying it. It was one of the most difficult applications that my team and I have ever tackled” said Jordy. He stressed serval terms that Producers need to know “We fly Radio controlled aircraft and we only fly “line-of-sight, that’s it. We never fly farther than we can see the aircraft.”

As a long time commercial pilot and full sized helicopter gimbal operator Jordy intimately understands aviation. It was a natural next step to get involved with Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Currently he owns 5 radio controlled aircrafts and has just purchased a new DJI Inspire 1 and camera system.

  • (2) Identical X8, Quadcopters that fly with Panasonic Gh4 cameras.
  • (1) Hexacopter that fly’s a BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera.
  • (2) Identical Octocopters that fly with a Canon 1DC, Canon 5D MKII, Canon 5D MKIII, or Red Epic.

All the aircrafts are classified as multirotor’s which just means they have more than one rotor. The  octocopters  have eight rotors, the hexacopters  have 6 rotors, and quadcopters have, you guessed it, four rotors. All of Jordy’s aircrafts are custom built and have other unique capabilities. The Octocopters are outfitted with a full uncompressed HD downlink wireless transmitter for live TV that only has two milliseconds of latency. And an in-house engineer has developed and built their own FIZ box (focus, iris, zoom controls) with start/ stop camera controls.

The application for capturing images with radio controlled aircrafts is countless for reality TV, feature films, commercials, TV shows, and corporate internal videos. This bird’s eye altitude has excellent applications for golf games, outdoorsman reality shows, contest reality shows, internal communications for aviation and aeronautics companies, unique perspectives for car commercials and the list goes on.

This short list of FAA Section 333 exempt companies are in demand to offer exciting new points of view to all types of video production worldwide, video marketing, and digital cinema. If you would like to know more about UAS or how they can be utilized on your next project please comment on our blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Google+, or LinkedIn page.

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