The rules for commercial drones, proposed in February 2015 and subject to a 60 day review period, would require that drones weigh less than 55 pounds, that they be operated only during daylight hours, and that they fly under 500 feet and below 100 miles per hour.
Current FAA rules prohibit all commercial drone use without a waiver.
The newly proposed rules would allow limited commercial use of drones.
What New Drone Regulations Would Require
• If the proposed drone regulations go into effect, here’s what would be mandated:
• Operators must be at least 17 years old
• Operators must pass a basic aeronautical knowledge test, obtaining an FAA operator certificate.
• The drone must always be in the line of sight of the operator or potentially a ‘visual observer’ who would maintain constant visual contact with the drone.
• No flights over human beings other than those involved in the drone’s flight.
• Weather conditions, airspace restrictions and people must constantly be assessed.
• Drones must stay away from airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas. FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions must be observed.
The old model aircraft guidelines would remain in place for hobbyists and drones would no longer be restricted by the decades old advisories under Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95.
Drone Regulations: What Would and Would Not be Allowed
The proposals prohibit dropping objects from what are technically called ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ or UAS. That and other provisions would not allow for Amazon.com and other companies’ plans to make deliveries by drone, including pizza deliveries.
Amazon officials promise they have not abandoned plans for “Prime-Air” delivery, and note that technology and the regulatory process are both evolving.
Commercial drone flights would be allowed for aerial photography, crop monitoring, and inspections of bridges and cell towers.
FAA officials point out they have tried to be flexible in writing the proposed regulations. Their job requires balancing two key concerns: one is allowing the use of new technology, the other is guaranteeing aviation safety.
Next Step for Drone Regulations
While the proposed drone rules are said to be subject to a 60 day comment period, the proposals were six weeks late in their release, and regulatory experts estimate the FAA review could take a year or more before any new drone rules are implemented.
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