Cinematic Aerospace flies UAS at JFK International Airport to film for upcoming documentary

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Cinematic Aerospace has announced that on April 11, it completed the first commercial UAS flight at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in Queens, New York.

Cinematic Aerospace flew a DJI Inspire 2 UAS at the TWA Flight Center to film for an upcoming documentary on the construction of the new TWA Hotel, and the history of the airport terminal.

Five flights were performed in the span of the approved flight window by UAS Pilot-in-Command Christian Tucci and Visual Observer Kyle Hurley. The UAS reached a maximum altitude of 200 feet while operating in various arcs over the TWA terminal building.

All flights were conducted with continuous visual line-of-sight to the UAS, as well as a flight crew operating from a “stringent series” of procedures and checklists.

Operating without a tether, the Inspire 2 UAS was allowed to freely perform its mission within the approved flight area at JFK.

“Drones have been permitted for use in Class B controlled airspace in the United States a few very limited times before, but never untethered at an airport like JFK within the busy New York/New Jersey Terminal Area,” says David Windmiller, co-founder of Cinematic Aerospace.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with all the relevant agencies to make this flight a reality, something we weren't sure initially would happen this soon in the UAS industry.”

There were months of planning that went into these flights, which included several meetings at JFK with various entities including airport managers, the airport authority, law enforcement, the FAA, JFK Air Traffic Control, Risk Management Teams, JetBlue, and the documentary production crew.

Cinematic Aerospace says that the entire operation was planned around the central factor of safety.

Additionally, an approval process had to be followed to secure a Part 107 UAS airspace authorization from the FAA “and other various permissions from local stakeholders.”

Early on, it was established that the surrounding airport environment would not need to be shut down for this operation, being that the approved flight area for the UAS would remain over the construction site and TWA Flight Center area.

During the course of several onsite scout days before the actual flight day, the flight crew tested for radio and communications interference, visited the construction site and Air Traffic Control Tower, and planned out shots with Director Peter Rosen of Peter Rosen Productions.

The result of this thorough level of planning culminated in flights where the footage captured was “truly the first time anyone has been able to view this beautiful and historic site from a perspective too low and slow for manned flight, and too high and free for a crane camera or scaffold,” Cinematic Aerospace says.

Cinematic Aerospace adds that once the TWA Hotel is completed, the UAS will once again be used for filming, in 2019.