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Local engineering firm first in KC with license to fly drones

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local engineering firm is now the first in Kansas City with a driver's license to fly drones.

Burns and McDonnell recently received a permit by the FAA to use unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes. The company is now using 10 drones to map out areas where they want to build.

For instance, before building transmission lines in a rocky, remote area, they typically send out workers to map the landscape. But now the drones can do it, making it safer and more efficient. They can also use different types of imaging cameras to get the data they need and have access to that information quicker than ever.

"For Burns And McDonnell, this is really a game changer," manager Steve  Santovasi said. "Over the next few years it's going to become a mainstay in all of the engineering companies just because the workflow is a lot cheaper than traditional methods and you have the availability to take that data immediately when you're done."

The drones cost between $10,000 and $40,000, and the company plans to buy many more to use for future projects around the U.S. and Canada.

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