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ArrowData Looks To Fly Drones Over Las Vegas

If you talk with executives with ArrowData, they’ll tell you Nevada is going to be a leader in the emerging unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as drones, industry. That’s the reason the company is located inside a hanger at North Las Vegas airport.

But until drones are legal, ArrowData intends to use existing technology in an innovative way to build its business in Southern Nevada. ArrowData straps sensors and a camera to Cessna aircraft to gather data from the air, analyze the information and send it to customers.

“Right now drones are not legal to fly in our national airspace, but the sensors commonly associated with drones are legal,” James Fleitz, vice president of sales at ArrowData, told KNPR’s State of Nevada. “We fashion ourselves as a company that is taking these sensors to market in a way that is legal.”

Fleitz said as drones become legal, ArrowData will transfer this technology onto unmanned aerial vehicles.

But for now, Fleitz is happy flying Cessnas with cameras and sensors.  A major company goal is to transmit three-dimensional and thermal images in high definition that can use used by various industries.

But the transition to drones will have to wait awhile. Or at least until 2017, under rules proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration that will allow their legal use for business purposes.

The FAA’s rules define drones as devices that weigh less than 55 pounds and require them to be operated at heights that are less than 500 feet and speeds that are less than 100 miles per hour. The rules make drone operators responsible for avoiding collisions with manned aircraft, and prohibit drone flights over people or residents not directly involved with the flight.

“It’s great … it gives us a roadmap,” Fleitz said of the new FAA rules. “Currently, we are having to do what they call triple three exemptions, where you work with the FAA. The new rules coming out allow us to plan for the future.”

Fleitz expects the final rules to take about 12 to 18 months to be approved. “But, it allows a company like ours to plan for that small (drone), and work with our clients to end up with a full suite of services,” the former U.S. Air Force pilot said.

Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.knpr.org/.

James Fleitz, vice president of sales, ArrowData

Geoff Barnes, chief pilot and flight operations director, ArrowData

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