Photo via Flickr/Budi Nusyirwan.

Photo via Flickr/Budi Nusyirwan.

The Town of Hanover, Mass., has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its drone program, making it the first municipality in Massachusetts to have licensed pilots and an FAA-approved Air Wing for municipal operation of its unmanned aircraft, a drone pilots group announced.

Working in consultation with the Association of Professional Drone Pilots, the town has licensed and trained representatives of the police and fire departments, as well as Hanover Community Television to operate its unmanned aircraft. After a training and application process, the town received a Certificate of Authorization to legally operate its drone in town, according to the Association of Professional Drone Pilots.

"The public safety value of a well-defined drone program is immeasurable. We can safely scout out forest fires and inspect tall buildings without putting our firefighters in harm’s way. We are proud to be a leader in this important area,” said Fire Chief Jeffrey Blanchard, who was recently licensed as one of Hanover’s drone pilots.

Six Hanover employees have taken the initial training required for licensure, and more are expected to be trained. The town is developing a protocol for deployment. Since existing staff will operate the drones, there are no additional costs to the town.