The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its long-awaited, and somewhat-vague, list of proposed rules for how small drones for commercial use will share the skies in the National Airspace System on Feb. 15. The proposal is open for public comment for 60 days which could prolong the final rule making.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the proposed regulations:
- Small drones must weigh less than or up to 55 lbs.
- Pilots must remain within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the drone. (Sorry, Amazon. No deliveries for you.) Operators can’t use devices (e.g., binoculars) to help with monitoring.
- No flying over people not directly related to the drone operation.
- Daylight flights only.
- Flights would be limited to 500 feet and no faster than 100 mph.
- Operators must be at least 17 years old, would be required to pass an aeronautical test every two years, and must be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
- Additional operator certification won’t be necessary (e.g., private pilot license, medical rating).
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”
As such, the FAA has reached out to the public, asking for comments on the VSOL limitation and whether an additional, more lenient set of rules for “micro” drones (weighing up to 4.4 lbs.) should be an option.
While there will always be those unhappy with any sort of rule making, several feel that these regulations are more than obvious in terms of protecting their investments.
Tier10’s chief creative officer Scott Rodgers said “The sheer cost of our craft makes me always keep it in line of sight. Also, we have a dual operator setup, so a pilot flies it and then a camera operator controls the gimbal equipped with a camera for video. Pre-flight checks, environment scans for obstacles, and planning our shot/flight path before we get in the air are all no brainers. The great part about the consumer drone industry is that the manufacturers have been proactive with safety… which protects the beginners, non-commercial users.”
Rodgers says he is very happy about the proposed drone regulations, but feels disappointed at the same time, “If you look back on the past year of the media talking about regulating drones, they ran the gamut of instilling fear into the general public. Like anything in life, there will be complete idiots who will fly irresponsibly. There have been reports of actual drunk airline pilots, who are directly putting the lives of every passenger and lives on the ground in danger. That is irresponsible.”
The proposal is open for public comment for 60 days.
“Keep in mind nothing is concrete yet,” said Rodgers. “It’s just a very difficult thing to govern right now. We are part of a revolution that is moving much faster than our federal government.”
See the FAA’s official press release here:
DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
See the official proposal here:
Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
For more information on the FAA and UAS, visit: FAA.gov