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Disney’s Flixels Drone Plans Include Many Safety Features

Disney’s Flixels Drone Plans Include Many Safety Features

by DeVore Design, January 8, 2016

Tinker Bell, Mary Poppins, Dumbo and Aladdin may get some more company in Disney’s aerial arsenal. The Walt Disney Co. has filed for an exception to FAA rules in order to use drones for entertainment purposes at Walt Disney World.

In the application, which was filed Oct. 30, Disney makes reference to its “Flixels,” machines that are “based on traditional UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] platforms and include advanced control and positioning technology, onboard sensors (gyroscopes, accelerometers, GPS, barometers, magnetometers), and advanced wireless communication solutions.”

The form includes some of Disney’s safety precautions and planned operations for the drones, including a restriction as to where it would not fly the crafts, including not within 100 feet of guest areas at all times. “Their flight paths will largely take place over water elements and restricted areas,” it reads. The Flixels would max out at 150 feet above ground level, according to the application.

They would be used for park entertainment productions, including fireworks, the document says.

Other details within the 42-page filing:

+ Each Flexel weigh less than 10 pounds. Its airspace would be no more than 600 feet in diameter. Maximum flight time would be “roughly” 10 minutes. The drone system would not be operated unless constant wind speeds are less than 10 mph and gusts are less than 15 mph.

+ The document makes reference to the company’s history of innovations, going back to early movies and Disneyland’s Matterhorn, and its “unparalleled safety record.”

+ The drones “will not interrupt national airspace activity because the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts airspaces are registered no-fly zones.” Later, the document says each zone has a 3 nautical mile radius.

+ “Flixels staff must wear safety glasses, a hard hat, and high visibility vests.”

+ Could that dragon that flew over the new Fantasyland event pave the way for drones? The filing reads: “In fact, in December 2012, Disney made several flights of an Imagineers-designed “fire breathing dragon,” which was actually an elaborate glider and parachute obscured by the night sky, over The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney Wolrd to celebrate the grand opening of Fantasyland.”