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CNN buys NZ-made Altus drone for aerial news-gathering trial

CNN buys NZ-made Altus drone for aerial news-gathering trial

By Jonathan Underhill

Sept. 29 (BusinessDesk) - Time Warner's CNN news channel has bought an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Napier-based Altus Unmanned Aerial Solutions as part of a trial of aerial news gathering under a US Federal Aviation Administration programme.

CNN is one of three 'Pathfinder' organisations selected by the FAA to evaluate the functionality and safety of UAVs. It acquired a Delta X8 from Altus after a meeting in May. Altus will provide technology and support, while existing partner Blue Chip Unmanned Aerial Solutions, will provide operators and training to CNN.

Blue Chip holds current US section 333 exemptions for commercial UAV flight operations across multiple industries, one of which is aerial filming and photography, according to a statement on the Altus website. All three parties will report back on the system to the FAA’s Pathfinder Program, it said.

Blue Chip is also overseeing testing of the system airworthiness, capabilities, safety and procedures of the Delta X8 at the National Institute of Aviation Research in Wichita, Kansas. The Delta X8 is an industrial grade survey multi-rotor with a 140 centimetre wingspan and maximum takeoff weight of 22.5 kilograms, according to the Altus website.

Shaun Mitchell, co-founder of Altus, told BusinessDesk last year that market research has forecast the economic impact of UAV technology in the US alone to be $82 billion by 2025.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has overseen development of regulations for UAV's by New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority that are intended to be permissive and to allow innovation with UAVs, sometimes called drones, in primary industries such as farming and forestry.


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