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FAADrone191214The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would allow four private companies – Trimble Navigation, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc., and Woolpert Inc. – to operate drones in U.S. airspace.

The drones will be used to survey land, inspect remote oil rigs, perform agricultural and environmental research, monitor construction projects, and collect geographical data. In their requests to be exempt from the ban on private and commercial drone usage, the companies agreed only to fly drones weighing less than fifty-five pounds and to keep them in sight at all times.

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The FAA has banned most drone flights as they pose a risk to the safety of manned aircrafts, and in some cases to privacy. Airline Pilots Association International, a pilot union, has warned the FAA that commercial use of drones in densely populated regions could be a risk to air travel.

Privacy advocates are worried that private citizens could be targets of illegal surveillance.

According to HomeLand Security News wire, many individuals and companies continue to fly drones until they receive an order from law enforcement or regulators to cease drone operations.