This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a new set of rules, governing the use of drones by commercial operators. The new regulations, which are a step towards fully integrating unmanned systems into the national airspace, could create 100,000 new jobs over the next decade and generate $82 billion for the U.S. economy, the FAA reports.
“We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Part 107, which will take effect in late August, applies to non-hobbyist drone owners and aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds. Prior, any for-profit operators were required to have a pilot’s license; now, individuals must pass a drone-specific, aeronautical knowledge test at FAA-approved testing centers—granting for-profit entities a cheaper, faster way to employ drones.
“This is a major development for the future of drones in America,” DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg told the Verge. “It means that businesses and farmers and government agencies and academic researchers can put drones to work without having to get an airplane pilot’s license or follow other onerous rules. Those were pretty high barriers to entry.”
Additionally, under the new provision, aircraft must always remain within the operator’s line of sight, be flown during daylight hours (unless the drone has anti-collision lights), and is restricted to a top speed of 100 mph. Drones are allowed to fly in sparsely populated areas without FAA approval, however operators must still work with air traffic control should they wish to conduct missions over crowded airspace.
“With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense