Commercial Drone Flights OK’d Over Land

    A 'Phantom 2' drone by DJI company flies during the 4th Intergalactic Meeting of Phantom's Pilots (MIPP) in an open secure area in the Bois de Boulogne, western Paris, March 16, 2014. Drone operators in France are required to complete a training course to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle and also receive written approval for flights in urban areas. Picture taken March 16, 2014.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3HM12

    Charles Platiau/Reuters

    It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a commercial drone! On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it gave permission for the first commercial drone flights over land. The first flight actually already took place. On Sunday, the FAA allowed BP and drone maker AeroVironment to fly a Puma drone over Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to survey pipelines, roads, and equipment. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “These surveys on Alaska’s North Slope are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft.” Congress directed the FAA to allow commercial drones to fly over the U.S. by September 2015, but the agency is still struggling to write safety rules that satisfy the Transportation Department and the White House. Many countries, including the United Kingdom and France, have allowed commercial drone use for years.

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