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FAA: Group must get new planes to guide cranes

Published On: Jun 15 2013 05:59:03 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 15 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT
Whooping crane has no whoop

Mike Ahlers/CNN

MADISON, Wis. -

A conservation organization that uses ultralight planes to lead endangered whooping cranes south for the winter has to replace its aircraft by next spring to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Operation Migration co-founder and pilot Joe Duff said the pilots will also be required to obtain private pilot licenses. The three aircraft will cost $20,000 each.

Operation Migration ran into trouble with the FAA because it pays salaries to pilots. FAA regulations dictate that sport planes -- a category that sometimes includes aircraft of exotic design -- can only be flown for personal use.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported the FAA allowed Operation Migration an exemption from the ultralight rules until April 30, 2014. The group hopes to have its new planes by January or February.

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