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FAA OKs commercial drone flights over land

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators say they've granted the first permission for commercial drone flights over land.

The Federal Aviation Administration has given approval to energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft manufacturers AeroVironment to conduct aerial surveys of pipelines, roads and equipment at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The first flight, by a Puma drone, took place Sunday.

Made by AeroVironment, the Puma is a small, hand-launched craft about 4 1/2 feet long with a 9-foot wingspan.

The FAA had approved the use of the Puma and the ScanEagle drone, made by a Boeing subsidiary, over the Arctic Ocean last summer.

Last week, the agency said it's considering giving permission to seven filmmaking companies to use drones, a potentially significant step that could lead to greater relaxation of the agency's ban on commercial drone use.

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