FAA issues proposed rule on regulations for commercial UAVs

Speaking about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) a few weeks back in January, U.S. President Barack Obama told CNN: "These technologies that we're developing have the capacity to empower individuals in ways that we couldn't even imagine 10-15 years ago.”

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Speaking about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) a few weeks back in January, U.S. President Barack Obama told CNN: "These technologies that we're developing have the capacity to empower individuals in ways that we couldn't even imagine 10-15 years ago.”

He also pledged to work to create a framework that “ensures we get the good and minimize the bad.” Less than a month later on February 15, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small UAVs in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations

The proposal offers safety rules for small UAVs (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations and would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits. Additional highlights from the proposed rule include:

  • The FAA seeking comments on whether the rule should permit operations beyond the line of sight, and if so, what the limits should be.
  • An operator needing to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. (Operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months.)
  • An operator must make sure than an aircraft is safe before flying.
  • The rule bars an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAV.

In addition, the rule included operating limitations designed to minimize risk to other aircraft and people/property on the ground. These include:

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