Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted five additional regulatory exemptions for commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Complementing the initial batch of exemptions granted to seven film and video production companies in late September and early October, this round of exemptions went to four companies intending to use the technology for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections: Trimble Navigation Limited, Woolpert, Inc., Clayco, Inc., and VDOS Global, LLC.

These latest exemptions include various now-familiar conditions and limitations to ensure safe UAS operation in the National Airspace System. Several features of this group of exemptions, however, are noteworthy: (i) the aircraft covered include both “fixed-wing” and “multirotor” UAS; (ii) one exemption potentially allows for UAS flight operations above other than private or controlled-access land; (iii) the FAA rejected requests to use other than “certificated airmen” (i.e., FAA licensed pilots) as the operator of the craft; and (iv) the exemptions cover a variety of operational settings and industry contexts.

As a whole, these additional exemptions demonstrate the FAA’s strong desire to expand the scope of commercial use of UAS while still honoring its overarching mandate to ensure the safety of users of the national airspace and of people and property on the ground.

To date, the FAA has received 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.