In this May 8, 2014 file photo, a Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration event in San Francisco. The government is issuing the first two permits to agriculture and real estate companies to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale.
Jeff Chiu—AP
By Jack Linshi
January 7, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued Tuesday its first-ever drone permits for use in the agriculture and real estate sectors.

Exemptions to the ban on commercial drones were made for Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Wash., for “crop scouting,” and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Ariz., for enhanced aerial footage of buildings, according to an FAA statement.

Advanced Aviation Solutions will use a 1.5-pound eBee drone to take photographs of farm fields for measurement and inspection purposes, while Trudeau will use a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to “enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos,” the FAA said.

Among other rules, the permits require commercial drones to have an on-the-ground “pilot” and an observer, and that the drone must not leave the operator’s line of sight.

Previously, the FAA had granted drone permits to 11 companies in filmmaking, oil and gas and landfill industries, according to the Associated Press. Congress has pressured the FAA for years to establish guidelines permitting commercial drone use, and has mandated the agency to integrate drones into U.S. airspace by September 2015.

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