Earlier this week, the FAA posted two grants of exemption for Niceville, Florida-based Pravia LLC to operate the eBee Ag and E384 small unmanned aircraft systems for precision agriculture applications for a domestic agricultural seed company.
“We are excited to be among the first to receive FAA approval to operate commercial UAS in the United States national airspace system,” says Pravia Managing Partner Tim Ray in an email to AUVSI. “Pravia will now be able to bring precision agriculture imagery and automated analysis services to smaller fields at a more affordable price thanks to the efficiencies gained with SUAS over traditional manned aircraft.”
The proposed operations will include biomass analysis and estimation, yield monitoring, leaf area indexing, and reporting of geographical data and overall crop health.
Pravia submitted a petition for exemption on Sept. 30, 2014, and the exemptions will be in effect from Jan. 29, 2015, to Jan. 31, 2017, unless superseded or rescinded.
As in other exemptions, operations must be within visual line of sight with an observer and pilot with a private pilots license and a current medical certificate. The company must not fly faster than 54 knots and cannot fly at night. The operator must also receive an Air Traffic Organization-issued certificate of authorization for operations and request a notice to airmen between 48 and 72 hours prior to operation.
The company is currently working on imaging and automated analysis using multi-spectral and thermal sensors for the 2016 growing season.
Pravia is the third company approved for precision agriculture and the 22nd company to receive an exemption.
To date the FAA has approved 26 exemptions out of over 350 applications.