Regulators have said they expect to propose rules before the end of the year intended to clear the way for flights by drones weighing 55 pounds or less. However, it will take months and perhaps years before such regulations become final.

Lisa's leaks - 'Madness in the Magnolias'

PUMA

FAA OKs commercial drone flights over land

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it has granted the first permission for commercial drone flights over land, the latest effort by the agency to show it is loosening restrictions on commercial uses of the unmanned aircraft.

Drone maker AeroVironment of Monrovia, California, and BP Energy Company have been given permission to use a Puma drone to survey pipelines, roads and equipment at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, the agency said. The first flight took place on Sunday.

Made by AeroVironment, the PUMA is a small, hand-launched craft about 4 1/2 feet long and with a 9-foot wingspan. It was initially designed for military use.

Drones are often less expensive to operate than manned aircraft and easier to maneuver. Equipped with 3D cameras, the Puma will provide images of hard-to-reach places not currently available, BP and AeroVironment say.

AeroVironment CEO Tim Conver said the…

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