WASHINGTON (AP) – Jan. 7, 2015 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.

The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for "crop scouting," and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

Trudeau's exemption authorizes him to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to "enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos," the FAA said.

Real estate companies have been eager to gain permission to use drones to photograph and make videos of pricey properties.

Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use its 1.5-pound, fixed-wing eBee drone to make photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and look for pests. The aim is to save farmers time walking through fields. The drone also can carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye, which can help determine which fields need watering.

The permits require that drone operations include both a ground "pilot" and an observer, that the pilot have at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and that the drone remains within line of sight of the operator at all times.

Before these approvals, the FAA had granted 12 exemptions to 11 companies involved in the oil and gas, filmmaking, landfill and other industries.

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved