Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. today joined leaders in government and industry to examine the commercial applications for unmanned aircraft systems. Sinclair was the only broadcaster to be invited to the White House workshop, "Drones and the Future of Aviation."
At the event, Sinclair committed to support drone safety through the "Know Before You Fly" campaign by broadcasting public service announcements on its stations nationwide. The "Know Before You Fly" campaign was created by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of drones.
Sinclair was an early leader among broadcasters seeking to advance the use of drones by journalists. In 2014, the company began working with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) at Virginia Tech to develop safety protocols for newsgathering and to train its journalists how to fly drones in real-life scenarios. This program grew to involve 16 media companies working with Virginia Tech, one of six test sites established by Congress to collect aircraft and flight data from small drones.
Earlier this year, Sinclair joined national stakeholders and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop best practices for commercial drone use. Sinclair worked to garner consensus on the final "Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability" in May 2016, which appropriately balances privacy concerns and the First Amendment freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
With the adoption of the FAA's final rules for small drones in June 2016, Sinclair will expand its training program to 22 pilots, focusing on the safe operation of drones for newsgathering by journalists. Sinclair also plans to collaborate with Virginia Tech on advanced equipment safety and share with them compilations of flight data from news-based drone operations.