In an attempt to expand the world of the US airspace for drone flights for the business purposes, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday granted exemptions to four firms for the commercial use of drones for the purposes of aerial surveying, oil rig flare stack inspections and construction site monitoring.
The four companies that have received approval include: VDOS Global LLC, Clayco Inc, Trimble Navigation Ltd and Woolpert Inc.
In their petitions to the FAA, the firms said they will be operating drones weighing lower than 55 pounds (25 kg) and maintain them within view at all times.
The exemptions were granted to the companies by the FAA in September and October, allowing seven film and television firms to use drones for aerial filming as well as photography.
With the latest FAA green signal, the usage of commercial drones has broadened. The federal agency has prepared to release a draft rule on drones by December-end.
According to the reports, the companies have been mounting severe pressure on the FAA to grant them permission for using drones for various surveillance purposes, including inspect remote power lines, survey crops, flare stacks and pipelines and deliver packages as well as conduct search-and-rescue operations among several other uses.
According to a research work by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the American drone industry is expected to generate USD 13.6 billion in economic development as well as creation of 70,000 employment opportunities in the three years following the removal of restrictions on commercial use.
The federal body has presently banned the most commercial drone flights, but is required by the US Congress in order to integrate drones into the American airspace by September 30 next year.