Idaho Company Using Drones To Help Local Ag Community

dronesinfarmingAn Idaho company is one of the first in the nation allowed to fly drones… For-profit. Many companies are making money on the unmanned aircraft… But very few are legal. KBOI (Treasure Valley, Idaho) Eric Gonzales explains why a Treasure Valley man was given an exemption to let his company soar.

It’s an industry waiting to take off. Drones aren’t just a hobby anymore. Many companies are waiting for clearance to make money using unmanned aircraft systems. One company, whose owner lives in star was given the go ahead.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “We can actually conduct flights over your farm from the soil preparation phase to the harvest phase, and during the course of that growth crop cycle we can help find the stress points in the crop.”

Advanced Aviation Solutions is the only agricultural business in the U.S. allowed by the FAA to fly drones commercially. The owner believes the drone Ag industry, combined with cutting-edge technology, will be a multi-billion dollar business over the next fifteen years.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “There is a lot of science behind this too. This is not just, put a camera on an airplane and go out and fly around.”

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “Cotton’s been growing around here since before the Civil War.”

Brandon Moore is a farmer in Toney, Alabama. He hires dozens of workers to survey his crops. They’re checking for water, bug, weed and soil problems.

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “Using some of the unmanned aircraft would allow us to almost have real time information. We would be able to cover large acreage’s in just a fraction of the time. with the fraction of the people that it takes.”

But Moore isn’t legally allowed to use drones for his business. The government’s only allowing 24 companies to fly them – and nearly all of them are movie production businesses.

Advanced Aviation Solutions is the only company allowed to fly over Ag land. Advanced aviation solutions got the gig, in part because of the owner’s expertise in the cock pit.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “All of our guys are former military pilots, former commercial pilots, air traffic controllers. We’ve been in aviation all of our lives.”

Edgar flew the F-117 stealth fighter in combat. He also manned drones for the air force sitting at a command center in California while his aircraft was zoning in on targets in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a six to nine month application process with the FAA, he’s now in business. Snagging one of those exemptions, is nearly impossible.

So far the FAA has been giving exemptions but with strict rules to qualify for an exemptions. For example, a business that has a drone pilot has to have at least a private pilot’s license; two, a third class medical certificate And three. a separate observer to watch where the drone is going at all times.

Brandon Moore, Farmer, “To have some hoops to go through is a good thing but on the other hand to go through that is total unnecessary, when any 18 year old can go down to the local hobby shop and purchase one and be up and flying in the next hour or so.”

Moore says while his farm could save a lot of money on drones, a pilot’s license would be a costly investment. For the FAA it’s not just whether you can fly a drone, but more about safe operations in national airspace.

Steve Edgar, Advanced Aviation Solutions Owner, “But we are out there to do it the right way. We also know, as manned pilots the last thing I could ever say to somebody is, I am sorry if somebody was hurt or killed because an unmanned vehicle hit a manned vehicle.”

Originally printed at:  http://www.kmvt.com/news/regional/Idaho-Company-Using-Drones-To-Help-Local-Ag-Community-291214361.html

 By KMVT News

February 8, 2015

 

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