North Dakota agency gets waiver to fly drones over people

The North Dakota Department of Transportation last month became the first state government agency granted a waiver to fly drones over people, a distinction officials say isn’t that unusual except that it extends for four years.

The first waiver the state received from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly over people was for two months, when the Red River was flooding.

Matt Dunlevy, president and CEO of SkySkopes, a North Dakota company that operates drones for the DOT, says it shows that the FAA might be “opening its arms to a select few” to receive special privileges for a longer period of time.

Dunlevy says the waiver will improve safety for his company, which builds transmission lines for Minnesota-based Xcel Energy and others.

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