FAA Oks drones over Alaska oil area

The Associated PressAugust 25, 2013 

— The FAA has cleared the way for unmanned aircraft, or drones, to fly for the Alaskan oil industry.

The Petroleum News reports approval for two remote-controlled aircraft to fly over the Arctic Ocean is an aviation milestone.

ConocoPhillips requested permission for the drone flights. But the company says it's not quite ready to put them to use.

The FAA announced approval for flying either the ScanEagle X200 from Insitu Inc., a Klickitat County subsidiary of The Boeing Co., or the Puma AE from AeroVironment Inc., of Monrovia, Calif.

Federal officials say the application talked about ship-launched flights to survey ocean ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas, as well as emergency response monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea.

The FAA-certified unmanned aircraft are small, each about 4½ feet long with wingspans of 10 feet or less.

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