FAA Grants More Exemptions for Commercial Use of Drones

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had granted eight more exemptions for commercial use of small drones as the industry eagerly awaits new agency rules on the remote-controlled aircraft.

The agency said it issued new exemptions to Total Safety U.S. Inc for flare stack inspections; to Slugwear Inc for aerial photography and surveys; and to Team 5 LLC, Shotover Camera Systems LP, Helinet Aviation Services LLC, and Alan D. Purwin for film and television production.

The FAA also amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision Inc and Aerial MOB LLC to let the companies fly additional types of small drones.

The FAA is developing specific regulations for unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds (25 kg). The agency has effectively banned their commercial use except when operators are granted special exemptions.

The FAA, which has received 342 requests for exemptions for use of commercial drones, has granted a total of 24.

Businesses have been clamoring for rules to allow commercial drone flights, fearing the United States is falling behind other countries in developing a multibillion-dollar industry.

The FAA turned a draft of the rules - the first major overhaul of the regulations - over to the White House on Oct. 23, and had said it expected them to be published in 2014.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters the rules were close to being issued.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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