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Drone business is big in Georgia, industry group says

Georgia's drone business is one of the top 15 in the nation measured by the number of exemptions for commercial drone operations granted by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to an industry group.

Businesses in the state have received from the FAA a total of 84 exemptions to fly unmanned aircraft, giving Georgia the 12th-highest number in the country, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. California has received the most exemptions, at 360.

Businesses have been using drones for everything from aerial photography -- the most common application -- to inspection of utilities or construction sites, to filming for movies or television shows.

Among the firms in Georgia with clearance from the FAA to operate commercial drones is Phoenix Unmanned, which is pursuing the use of drones in the film industry. But many of the companies with exemptions are small businesses.

The FAA has been granting the exemptions since September 2014, and nationwide has approved more than 4,600 of the 15,000 petitions it has received, according to AUVSI.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.