WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2014 – The Transportation Department’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today granted five regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations to four companies for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring and oil-rig flare stack inspections.

The companies receiving the exemptions are Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc. The FAA earlier granted exemptions to seven film and video production companies. As of today, the agency has received 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

“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,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “We want to foster commercial uses of this exciting technology while taking a responsible approach to the safety of America’s airspace.”

Foxx found that the UAS, or drones, in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

The firms also asked the FAA to grant exemptions from regulations that address general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals, maintenance and equipment mandates. In their petitions, the firms said they will operate UAS weighing less than 55 pounds and keep the UAS within line of sight at all times.

“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.”


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