One the first rules from the FAA is that no drone can fly near an airport. For the first time, the agency granted a waiver to operate a drone at a major airport where the airspace falls under a special classification called "class B." Seven flights were conducted by Berkeley, Calif.-based 3D Robotics on Jan. 10 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the busiest airport in the world.
The reason for this rule have to do with safety. Drones can collide with planes and even distract pilots. Even the slightest interruption can set delays, emergency landing, and more.
The waiver was given in order to collect data on two four-story parking structures at the airport.
“The only other way to capture data at this level would be with a full-size aircraft,” said Tristan Randall from Autodesk, the software company that helped gather the information. The data will be used to help the construction firm create a work plan.
The permit required three spotters to be watching the drone during its flight and to coordinate closely with air traffic control. The FAA only started approving applications for waivers to fly drones near busy airports on Dec. 5 of last year.