FAA deals blow to use of drones for farming, other business

McCownGordon Construction recently purchased a DJI Phantom 2 drone. | Courtesy of Macomb Paynes/Creative Commons
Courtesy of Macomb Paynes/Creative Commons

In a notice made last month, the Federal Aviation Administration has more clearly restricted drone use for commercial purposes, a change that could affect businesses and farmers across the state.

The FAA has made clear drones used for purposes such as farming, aerial photography, delivery services and other businesses must have approval before use. In the past, the agency only generally outlined rules for hobbyists.

Farmers, in particular, see drones as a tool to monitor the health of their crops and their land. Researchers at the University of Missouri, where drones have been used for research, say the FAA notice may alter the way farmers use the tool.

Despite the notice, courts are still deciding the fate of drone use. In 2012, an aerial photographer was fined $10,000 by the FAA for using a drone. In court, a federal administrative judge ruled against the agency’s actions. The agency is appealing the decision and also working on additional regulations for unmanned flights, as directed by Congress.

The drone industry is projected to have an $82 billion economic impact from 2015-2025, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, but some fear the new notice could change that.

Read more from the St. Louis Post Dispatch




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