FAA clears more commercial drones for takeoff

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted eight more companies exemptions from regulations that prohibit the use of commercial drones. 

Total Safety U.S. Inc. has been approved for flare stack inspections, and Slugwear Inc. dba LikeonaTree Aerial has been approved for aerial photography and surveys.

Team 5 LLC; Shotover Camera Systems LP; Helinet Aviation Services, LLC; and Alan D. Purwin have also been approved for film and TV production. The FAA also amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision Inc. and Aerial MOB LLC to let the companies fly additional types of small drones.

Each drone operation, however, must follow certain FAA requirements. A pilot and an observer must be present for each flight; the pilot must have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate; and the drone must remain within a line of sight at all times.

The FAA has now granted a total of 24 exemptions for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems. The administration has received 342 requests for exemptions for commercial entities and individuals. 

The agency is expected to release draft regulations this week that allow businesses to fly small drones weighing less than 55 pounds 

Last week, a small drone crashed onto the White House lawn. Though the recreational use of small drones is generally permitted across the country, FAA restrictions ban drone flights in the area surrounding Washington, D.C.