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FAA approves fleet of 324 commercial drones

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NEW YORK — It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved a fleet of 324 commercial drones — the largest fleet ever OK’d at one time.

Measure, the company that owns the drones, said in its petition to the FAA that the drones would be used for “aerial data acquisition.”

According to the FAA, commercial drones are commonly used in movie making, “precision agriculture” and real estate photography.

Measure provides its services to companies in several industries including agriculture, disaster relief and insurance, infrastructure and energy. The company says its drones can be used to monitor pipelines and aid in search and rescue operations.

Among the companies using Measure’s drones are Boeing, IBM, UPS, the American Red Cross and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Measure compared the use of drones to satellites. With drones, the company said, visual images are better and the data is collected in real time.

The FAA has approved over 1,000 commercial drone requests. Measure’s approval far exceeds the others; the company said the next largest was for a fleet of about 20 drones.

Measure said it is the first Washington, D.C.-based company to get FAA approval to use drones commercially.

By Ahiza Garcia