FAA grants additional exemptions for commercial UAVs

Last summer, the FAA granted permission for BP and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer AeroVironment to fly the first commercial UAV to fly over land for the purposes of aerial surveys over Alaska’s North Slope.

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Last summer, the FAA granted permission for BP and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer AeroVironment to fly thefirst commercial UAV to fly over land for the purposes of aerial surveys over Alaska’s North Slope. A few months later, it issued six additional permits, for purposes of aerial video capture for film and television production.

In its latest round of granting exemptions, the FAA hasissued seven permits for varying purposes. In December, five permits were issued to companies representing several industries that promise to benefit from being able toUAVs. These companies were seeking an exemption in order to fly UAVs for purposes of aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections.

"Unmanned aircraft offer a tremendous opportunity to spur innovation and economic activity by enabling many businesses to develop better products and services for their customers and the American public," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We want to foster commercial uses of this exciting technology while taking a responsible approach to the safety of America’s airspace."

The commercial entities that received exemptions are Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, LLC, Clayco, Inc., and Woolpert, Inc. (two exemptions).

Weeks later, in January, the FAA thenissued two more exemptions for commercial UAV operations. The first exemption, for Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tuscon, AZ, USA, will enable the use of a DJI Phantom 2 Vision UAV (pictured) for real estate photography. The second permit, given to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, WA, USA, will be used to make photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture. 

Thus far, these are the only exemptions granted from a total of 167 requests from commercial entities that the FAA has reportedly received. While there is still much to be figured it out when it comes to the "right way" of addressing safe and fair commercial UAV usage, at least the FAA is issuing these permits.

"The FAA’s first priority is the safety of our nation’s aviation system," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "Today’s exemptions are a step toward integrating UAS operations safely."

View theFAA exemptions.

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