FAA Releases Commercial Drone Rule Plan
Guidelines would dictate flight and pilot qualifications
On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unveiled its proposal for rules governing the flights of small commercial drones. The administration’s proposal would limit how high and fast drones can fly and set up a vetting process to decide who can pilot them.
According to the FAA’s statement, operators must always be able to see their drones, as well as other aircraft, while in flight. If a collision looks possible, the drone pilot must move the drone out of the way first. Altitude will be limited to 500 feet, and speed cannot exceed 100 mph. Operators cannot fly drones directly over other people or allow the devices to drop anything while in flight. Pilots also must keep their drones out of airport flight paths.
Anyone wishing to fly a drone must be at least 17 years old and pass an aeronautical knowledge test to obtain an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operator certificate. The FAA isn’t requiring drone pilots to get a private pilot’s license.
USA Today reports that the proposal doesn’t apply to hobbyists—only commercial users. The FAA already has a recreational use policy with many of the same guidelines as the commercial proposal, except drones can’t fly higher than 400 feet.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in the statement. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”
The FAA is now asking for a 60-day public comment period before the proposal is made final, but even then industry experts say the comment analysis could take 18 months, according to USA Today.