Feds lessen rules on drones; several Arizona groups can already fly them

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 23:01:13-04

It's not a bird or a plane, but a drone.

Commercial owners no longer need a waiver to fly drones after the Obama administration announced Tuesday that the special permission needed will be lifted

“With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta said in a news release. 

The FAA already maintains a database of who has the authority to fly drones, which even includes a state agency. Here's a partial list:

  • APS had their drone exemption issued May 18. According to the FAA's approval letter, the purpose is to "conduct visual inspections of energy infrastructure." APS did not return a request for comment. 
  • Tucson Aerial Photography, a company that offers panoramic photos at events, had their drone exemption issued Jan. 15. Their stated purposes include aerial inspections, cinematography and agriculture surveying. 
  • Eastern Arizona Ag Center, an agriculture goods store in Thatcher, had their drone exemption issued May 20, 2015. Their purpose is aerial photography.  

The FAA said the new rule will take effect in late August.