Sinclair Commits to Drones

By Kevin Eck 

Sinclair Broadcast Group has launched what it’s calling drone teams in six of its 81 TV markets.

WJLA in Washington, D.C., WBFF in Baltimore, Md., WLUK in Green Bay, Wisc., WSYX in Columbus, Ohio, KATV in Little Rock, Ark. and KTUL in Tulsa, Okla. are already using drones.

The station group says it will have 80 trained and FAA-certified drone pilots in 40 markets by the end of 2017.

“Our drone program is off to a great start, with safety being the top priority,” said Jeff Rose, chief pilot for Sinclair’s drone operations. “Our policy is to have two operators for each aircraft; one to fly the drone and one to focus solely on the photography. We also meet with local law enforcement as part of our training and before we begin operations. We think establishing coordination protocols at the outset with police, fire and other first responders is critical for the safety of our communities as we incorporate the use of this new technology.”

Sinclair says it started working with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) at Virginia Tech to train its journalists in flying the unmanned aerial vehicles and come up with safety protocols for news gathering.