Politics

Commercial Drones Buzz Over Metro Atlanta With Caution

Credit Justin Tomczak / State Farm
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Last year, State Farm became the first insurance company to gain Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly commercial drones.

Over the last few weeks, Start Farm has been using the Atlanta area as its testing site. It’s conducting hundreds of test flights in metro Atlanta through the end of May, testing out the commercial drones to inspect roofs in the Atlanta area before the company considers deploying them nationwide in disaster areas.

In addition to State Farm, the United Services Automobile Association and AIG have also gotten approval to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration. Matt Sloane, president of Atlanta Drone Consultants, said local film and TV networks are also flying drones commercially. 

Sloane said flying drones can be tricky in metro Atlanta since it has five regional airports. Drones must be five miles away from towered airports and three miles away from airports without towers.

“You want to make sure that you’re not trespassing on anybody’s property and that you have permission of all of the people you’re flying over, so you don’t want to be flying over large crowds of people who haven’t agreed to be flown over,” Sloane said.

Another rule: no drones are allowed to fly within five miles of the state Capitol building’s heliport and the Governor’s Mansion. But the FAA says that the Georgia Building Authority’s ban put in place last year can’t be enforced.