The Federal Aviation Administration is poised to propose new rules for commercial drones by year's end, and if they look anything like what the Wall Street Journal is reporting – it's going to be a rough day for businesses and drone enthusiasts.
According to the report, the FAA is planning some rather restrictive new rules for commercial drones under 55 pounds. Apparently, the FAA wants all drones operators to be real pilots.
"[P}ilot certifications likely to be proposed by the FAA would typically require dozens of hours flying manned aircraft, according to people familiar with the rule-making discussions," reports the WSJ.
There will also be other restrictions on the drones' actual flight. The FAA wants limit commercial drone operation to daylight hours, make sure that drones never fly higher than 400 feet, and require that the drone operator never lose line of sight with the drone.
This would make it very tough for a company like Amazon – who's currently looking to get a fleet of delivery drones off the ground.
And Amazon's not the only one.
Also a bummer for small drone enthusiasts – there might be no differentiation between super-lightweight drones and those weighing up to 55 pounds. From the WSJ:
The agency also plans to group all drones weighing less than 55 pounds under one set of rules. That would dash hopes for looser rules on the smallest drones, such as the 2.8-pound Phantom line of camera-equipped, four-rotor helicopters made by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co. Similar-sized devices are seen as the most commercially viable drones and have surged in popularity in the last two years.
Until the FAA sets new rules for commercial drones (which could take a couple years even after proposing them), the agency will continue to issue exemptions on a case-by-case basis. Back in September, the FAA approved drone use for certain film/TV production companies. These rumored regulations could put a damper on that end of drone use, as well.
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