FAA grounds journalism school drones at UNL, University of Missouri-Columbia - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 2:38 am
FAA grounds journalism school drones at UNL, University of Missouri-Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily grounded news-gathering drones used by a pair of journalism schools in the Midwest.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were using the airborne robots to shoot aerial photos and video from difficult-to-reach news scenes.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Thursday that the FAA ordered the universities to stop flying the drones outdoors until they obtain government authorization.

Scott Pham of Missouri's university-owned station KBIA-FM said the school would limit its newsgathering drone test to the indoors. He suggested the school won't pursue seeking federal permission for outdoor use.

“There is a process for flying over a natural disaster zone, one of the obvious positive uses, but it is a lengthy, difficult process that is not well-suited to journalism,” he said. “Indoor flying is still legal, and we will do that for testing.”

The crackdown comes as unmanned drones move from the battlefield to civilian and commercial use. Missouri was relying on rules for amateur use of remote-controlled model airplanes, but the FAA considers the university a public operator.

“Based on your university website, you are currently operating an (unmanned aircraft system) without proper authorization,” the agency wrote in a letter dated July 10.

“Operations of this kind may be in violation of the federal aviation regulations and result in legal enforcement action.”

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory called the notice sent to Missouri and Nebraska “very straightforward.”

“They have to comply with the same rules as everyone else,” she said

Under amateur rules, unmanned aircraft must stay under 400 feet and conduct flights away from populated areas. The more restrictive rules would require the university to designate a smaller area of up to two square miles while providing proof of the airworthiness of each vehicle, Pham said.

The Missouri School of Journalism program has produced stories on bird migration, archaeological excavations and the use of Missouri River water for fracking operations in North Dakota. Fewer than 10 students had signed up for a fall course that might now be canceled.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more related stories
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »