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Federal Aviation Administration Issues First Drone Permits for Agriculture and Real Estate

Federal Aviation Administration Issues First Drone Permits for Agriculture and Real Estate

STAR, ID - The Federal Aviation Administration issued the first-ever drone authorization permit to a company in the agricultural industry on Tuesday. Advanced Aviation Solutions, a Star, Idaho-based company, was granted a permit to use drones for “crop sourcing.”

With this permit in hand, President and CEO Steve Edgar has big plans for the future of his company.

"I envision we can take this model nationally, globally," he said. "It's scalable and something we can replicate or even grow into a franchise model."

For now, Edgar possesses an important advantage over potential competitors, whose operations have not yet been approved by the FAA. He knows this time is fleeting, however.

"It's going to be incumbent upon us act quickly, to capitalize on that six-month lead time," Edgar told the Idaho Statesman. "The competition will be there."

Edgar's first step is a partnership with Empire Aerospace and drone pilot Robert Blair. Together, the three will form Empire Unmanned LLC, under which they will bring the drone business to life.

The business model is an appealing one. According to ABC News, Edgar intends to use a 1.5 pound fixed-wing eBee drone to take photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and inspect for pests. The eBee is even equipped with sensors capable of detecting which fields need watering, allowing resources to be allocated more efficiently.

The permit does stipulate that all drone operations must be monitored by an observer in addition to a ground pilot who must keep the drone within sight at all times. At minimum, the pilot will also be required to have an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, according to ABC News.

This news is significant in that Advanced Aviation Solutions is the first company in the agricultural industry to be extended a drone permit, although 13 exemptions to 12 companies outside the agricultural industry have also been granted. Given that the FAA has already received 214 additional requests, this number is expected to grow. 

Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to monitor the development of this exciting new technology.