On May 28, 2015, Mountain High Aviation LLC (MHA) received the okay from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly its drones in U.S. airspace under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. MHA is a wildlife monitoring service based in Oregon that applied for an exemption under the FAA framework to use four drones to serve companies in remote sensing, mining, mapping, precision agriculture, real estate, and energy industries.
MHA said in its application to the FAA that it provides an opportunity for wildlife monitoring with aircrafts that eliminate many of the risks associated with manned aircrafts, such as reliance on flammable fuel. Of course, much like Amazon’s exemption approval from the FAA, MHA cannot use drones weighing more than 55 lbs. or at heights above 400 feet, and cannot fly their drones faster than 100 mph. MHA is also prohibited from flying their drones at night or above closed-sets for TV and movies. While this is certainly a step in the right direction for MHA, the FAA will need to loosen its standards to permit more use of these unmanned drones that can certainly be beneficial in many ways; however, the standards can only be loosened after the FAA sets forth some better privacy standards for these aircrafts.