- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - The Lafourche Parish administration is waiting on clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its drones again.

The parish purchased three drones last year to take video and pictures of storm damage, assist in situations involving hazardous materials and document progress on construction projects. They were used last week to check on storm and tornado damage in Sugar Ridge and Choctaw.

But FAA spokesman Les Dorr tells The Daily Comet (https://bit.ly/1bCTBo6) the parish will have to hold off on using the drones until his agency grants a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization, which the parish has applied for.

Lafourche Parish Administrator Archie Chaisson said he is working with FAA officials to complete the application.

Authorization for local governments and businesses to use drones is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The authorization includes information about where the drones can fly and special safety rules related to the proposed operation.

Dorr said when the FAA learns of violations, it contacts local officials to help sort out the rules.

Chaisson said parish officials thought they had met all FAA requirements and had properly registered the drones.

The situation is an example of the disconnect between what the federal government expects and what local officials think they need to do when dealing with developing regulations, he said.

Dorr said the FAA does not track these situations.

“When we find out about such cases, our goal is simply to get the operator to comply with regulations,” he said.

The next step for the parish is securing aircraft registration numbers, which act as a sort of license plate for aircrafts, before the application in completed, Chaisson said.

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Information from: Daily Comet, https://www.dailycomet.com


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