Federal Aviation Administration authorizes 43 drone operators to assess Hurricane Harvey aftermath: 4 things to know

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration authorized 43 drone operators to support recovery and information efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey Aug. 31, USA Today reports.

Here are four things to know.

1. In recent years, police and firefighters have used drones to conduct dangerous missions, such as inspecting crash sites or damaged buildings. The remote-controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles have also come in handy when searching for missing persons.

2. The FAA authorized federal, state and local officials to use drones to assess damage and prioritize initiatives following the tropical storm. It also extended authorization to news organizations, such as the USA Today Network, and railroad, oil and energy companies to investigate train tracks, fuel tanks and power lines.

3. However, the FAA also released restrictions on drone use. It issued temporary restrictions for private pilots flying drones around Houston, in an effort to prevent conflicts with government recovery efforts, such as private drones interfering with rescue helicopters.

"As much as possible, if we could keep civilian drones out of the crowded skies that are already crowded with people doing response and recovery efforts, that would certainly be helpful," Air Force Maj. Gen. James Witham, director of domestic operations for the National Guard, said in a Pentagon briefing Aug. 29, according to USA Today.

4. Prior to the temporary restrictions, the FAA allowed private drone pilots to operate the vehicles during daylight hours, up to 400 feet in the air and at least five miles away from an airport, among other regulations. 

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