Following the long awaited FAA approval of Amazon’s commercial drone testing, the FAA has come around to allowing new drone operations for a very specific purpose. These newly approved drones won’t have a big impact on commerce or delivery of goods, but they could help save lives. Maine-based Down East Emergency Medical Institute is now permitted to use drones as part of their search and rescue missions.


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The Exception To the Rule With Some Exceptions
The non-profit medical evacuation techniques company is now the first non-military organization to have been grated drone restriction exemption by the FAA, but there are still several dozen stipulations that come with allowance. The exemption only applies VK FreeFlight multirotor drones and fixed wing Ranger Drones, which must exceed no more 55 lbs. including the weight of anything the drones will carry. The drones also cannot travel over 100 mph and more that 400 feet above the ground.

A Welcome Sight To Those In Distress
Since Down East already has airborne capabilities in the form a helicopter and propeller-drive manned airplane, the drones will expand the organization’s range and access to areas that are unaccommodating to traditional aircraft. Down East’s drones will make it much easier to survey and search an area through the use of remote video streaming. They could also be used to deliver light cargo such as medical supplies and other essentials in an emergency. To hikers in distress, they’re bound to be a welcome sight.


Closer To Unlocking Drone Potential
Apart from making the wilderness of Maine a somewhat safer place to trend, the drone exemption is yet another recent example of how the FAA may finally be swaying, slowly and conservatively, towards a future where drones have a wide range of applications beyond defense. Every drone allowance the FAA now permits brings us closer to the day when companies can better explore their potential.

Valid Concerns And Conservative Progress
Still, the FAA, conventional pilots, and other professionals have many concerns over a sky filled with drones, and the security and safety issues there. Many see those concerns as valid while others see them as a hindrance to progress.

While the idea of getting an ecommerce shipment in hours rather than days may seem like more of a luxury than a necessity, civilian search and rescue drones are another manner. For companies that can utilize drones in ways that are strictly helpful rather than commercial, perhaps the FAA will be more likely to make drone exceptions in for favor.

What are your thoughts on this new exception on drone use? Do you think the FAA will start issuing more just like it?

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