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Allowing UAVs for ag use

By Staff | Feb 14, 2016

DES MOINES – Since the Federal Aviation Administration is way behind schedule in releasing final rules regulating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the organization started taking applications for exemptions for commercial UAV flights.

According to Kristine Tidgren, a staff attorney with the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, the FAA granted the first commercial ag exemption on Jan. 6 to a crop-scouting company – Advanced Aviation Solutions, based in Spokane, Washington.

In April 2015, the FAA started streamlining commercial exemption requests under section 333 of the FAA Reform Act of 2012. Which provides:

A). FAA can grant an exemption if it determines the UAV characteristics, proximity to an airport or populated areas do not constitute a public safety hazard.

B). A 333 exemption eliminates the need for costly airworthiness certificates and allows owners to fly commercially.

C). Requiring a separate certificate to fly the UAV in a particular block of airspace

That month, FAA grant exemptions to 13 companies, including real estate, aerial and video production companies.

There were a total of 200 applications which were still pending, Tidgren said.

FAA has also streamlined certification process for flying UAVs for sport or recreation, including blanket certifications for flights under 200 feet.

Tidgren said that as of Feb. 1 a total of 399 exemptions from a total of 3,170 petitions have been granted.

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