Sinclair Broadcast Group has launched drone teams in six markets and plans to have 80 trained and FAA-certified drone pilots in 40 markets by the end of next year.
Currently, Sinclair has drone teams in Washington; Baltimore; Green Bay, Wis.; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; and Little Rock, Ark. The Federal Aviation Administration began testing and awarding Part 107 operator certificates for commercial drone use in late August.
The station group recently sent two of the teams to cover the flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it said.
According to Jeff Rose, chief pilot for Sinclair, the station group is emphasizing safe drone operation and has a policy of sending two operators with each aircraft in the field. One flies the drone, and the other focuses on photography.
Sinclair drone operators meet with local law enforcement as a matter of policy before launching a drone to coordinate with first responders and maintain safety, he said.
Sinclair participated in a technology and science fair on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27 along with others from the unmanned aerial vehicle industry to inform members of Congress and their staffs on the use of drones, it added.
(Drone footage of the Iowa flooding can be viewed online.)