DRONES

Texas among nation's leaders in commercial drone exemptions

Posted April 13th, 2016

It seems Texas businesses are excited about the possibilities of using drones.

Texas is among the nation's leaders in having companies receive exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aircraft systems, according to a study from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry advocacy group. Unmanned aircraft systems is the technical industry term for drones.

FAA rules require that if you live in the United States and make income flying a drone, you are required to petition the FAA for an exemption allowing you to operate the drone. To receive the exemption, the FAA must determine that you are a safe and reliable pilot.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International released an interactive analysis that tracked more than 3,000 FAA exemptions. According to these numbers, businesses in Texas have received 268 exemptions that allow unmanned aircraft systems to fly in the National Airspace System. That's third in the nation, behind only California and Florida, with 360 and 328, respectively.

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems InternationalA map from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International shows the number of FAA drone exemption each U.S. state has received.

“The UAS industry is poised to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. and these numbers demonstrate that Texas businesses are eager to take advantage of this technology,” Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said in a written statement.

Many of the 268 Texas companies with exemptions are small businesses. About 90 percent make less than $1 million in annual revenue and more than 88 percent have fewer than 10 employees, according to the study.

Companies in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, have received exemptions to fly dronges. According to the data, most companies use unmanned aircraft systems for aerial photography, but 38 different types of business operations were named in the report.

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