New FAA Rules and Regulations for Commercial Drone Use
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If you are new to sUAV and small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) or drones’ as popularly known, it about time you got updated with the new rules as drafted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are not entirely new regulations anyway, there has been unwritten version of the same, so to speak. Since 2008, there have been rules and restrictions in place that the Federal Aviation Administration has been referring to. These restrictions have made it nearly impossible for industrial, commercial, search and rescue, agricultural, fire fighters, and forest service to get proper, full authorization to use drones at their work.
According to Peter Sachs of the Drone Law Journal blog, the following have been basic standing rules and guidelines FAA has been using, although not enforceable directly;
- Do not fly above 400 ft above ground level
- Keep your craft within line of sight
- Fly your craft 3 miles clear of landing/airport
- Obey all the Flight Restricted Zones/Temporary Flight Restrictions
- Do not fly in NOAA regions
- Fly safely away from wildlife, pedestrian, property, buildings, etc.
The New Updated Regulation
As at 21st June, 2016, FAA finalized and published the first operational rules and regulations for commercial use of drones. This has therefore opened pathways for full integration of UAS into the airspace. According to FAA, the rules are aimed at safely promoting innovations, save lives, advance scientific research, and create more jobs. It is also estimated that the new rules will generate over $82 billion for the U.S economy while creating over 100, 000 jobs in the next 10 years.
The updated rule is scheduled to take effect late August this year and will be targeting drones weighing 55 pounds or less contacting commercial operations. The provisions in the rule are basically designed to lower risks to people, property and other aircrafts. Just like on the old version guidelines, the regulations in the new rule require operators to keep the drones within visual line of sight. You are allowed to fly during daylight, but you will need anti-collision lights to fly during twilight. The rule also addresses speed and height restrictions as well as other limits including prohibiting flying over unprotected people not directly involved in the UAS operation.
The rule also restricts the age of a persons flying the drone to be 16 years or more and will need to remote pilot certification directly an individual with such a certificate. To get the certificate, you must either need pass the aeronautical knowledge test approved by FAA or have an existing non student Part 61 certificate.