Cinematic Aerospace Completes First Commercial Drone Flight at JFK Airport

Cinematic Aerospace Completes First Commercial Drone Flight at JFK Airport
Stunning Aerial Footage of TWA Hotel Construction Captured

JAMAICA, New York, June 7, 2018 -- Long Island, New York has a rich heritage peppered with aviation firsts, and Cinematic Aerospace is proud to announce its involvement in another milestone on man’s road skyward. On April 11th, 2018, the first commercial UAS (unmanned aircraft system, more commonly known as a drone) flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport took place. The UAS was flown at the heart of JFK, the TWA Flight Center, to film for an upcoming documentary on the construction of the new TWA Hotel, developed by MCR and MORSE, and the history of the vintage airport terminal.

UAS Pilot-in-Command Christian Tucci and Visual Observer Kyle Hurley performed five flights in the span of the approved flight window. A DJI Inspire 2 climbed to a maximum altitude of 200 feet while maneuvering in various arcs over the historic TWA terminal building, designed by world-renowned architect Eero Saarinen in 1962. All flights were conducted with continuous visual line-of-sight to the UAS, and a flight crew operating from a stringent series of procedures and checklists. The Inspire 2 leveraged for this operation was operated without a tether, and permitted to freely perform its mission, within the approved flight area at JFK.

A few months of planning went into these flights, including multiple meetings at JFK with airport managers, the airport authority, law enforcement, the Federal Aviation Administration, JFK Air Traffic Control, Risk Management Teams, JetBlue, and the documentary production crew. The entire operation was planned around one central factor, safety.

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

Over the course of numerous 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.

“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. 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,” says David Windmiller, co-founder of Cinematic Aerospace.

The end result of all this time and effort speaks for itself. The footage the team was able to capture is 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. Filming with the UAS is planned to take place again, in 2019, upon the completion of the TWA Hotel.