WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosened restrictions on the commercial use of drones on Thursday, granting six television and movie production companies permission to use the small, remotely piloted aircraft to shoot scenes on closed sets.
"Today's announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial (drone) use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
"These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance," he said.
The six companies are Astraeus Aerial, Aerial MOB LLC, HeliVideo Productions LLC, Pictorvision Inc, RC Pro Productions Consulting LLC dba Vortex Aerial, and Snaproll Media, LLC.
The FAA said it has asked for additional information from Flying-Cam Inc, a seventh aerial video company that filed for exemptions with this group in June. The agency said it is working closely with the company to obtain the required information.
In their applications, the production firms said the operators will hold private pilot licenses and keep the drones within line of sight at all times, the FAA said in a statement.
In granting the exemption, FAA said it accepted these safety conditions, and added a requirement that the aircraft be inspected before each flight and prohibited operations at night.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler)