In response to seven recent requests for permission, the FAA will reportedly allow flights by drones that weigh less than 55 pounds, fly no faster than 57 mph and go no higher than 400 feet.

FAA To Approve Use Of Drones On Film Sets

The seven companies that requested permission include Flying-Cam Inc., which has previously used drones abroad to film segments of the James Bond film Skyfall.

In the U.S., the drones will only be used on closed film sets, and not flown over populated areas. Filming overhead shots will become far easier and vastly cheaper than using helicopters and planes.

Wider ramifications

Should the requests be approved it would open the door to further development of drone technology in other businesses, such as delivery services.

Douglas Marshall, division manager of unmanned aviation regulations and standards at New Mexico State University, said in an interview that the action is a “huge step”. Interim approvals could follow because formal regulations on the use of unmanned aircraft in business is reportedly at least a year away.

DHL recently announced a drone delivery service in Germany, which is the first time that drones have been authorized to carry goods in Europe, and insiders are enthused by the possibility of developing similar services in the U.S.

Economic opportunity created by use of drones

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, or AUVSI, forecast that in the first ten years after the FAA approves commercial flights, drones will create 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in economic impact.

The Arlington, Virginia-based trade group is understandably excited by the predicted ruling, with president and chief executive officer Michael Toscano stating that “the (drone) industry is very supportive of this”.

Support for the ruling has also come from the Small UAV Coalition, whose members include Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) and camera-maker GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO). UAV stands for unmanned aerial vehicle. Google has also been developing a delivery drone, with testing undertaken in the Australian outback due to U.S. regulatory restrictions.

If analysts predictions are correct and approvals are granted over the coming weeks and months, we could see a rapid growth in the sector.