Permitted small business uses for unmanned air systems, or UASs, are a somewhat gray area, but their implications are compelling.
Last June, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Amazon PrimeAir’s plans for a drone delivery system. But two weeks before the Amazon decision, the FAA granted energy corporation BP permission to fly a drone over Alaska’s North Slope to better survey roads and pipelines. That marked the first condoned use of a commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) over U.S. soil and, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted, “another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft.”
Despite its reticence on UASs, the FAA is not blind to the demands and priorities of businesses. The agency’s ban applies only to commercial use, except in instances where a waiver is granted. Six such waivers were given to movie and television production companies in September.