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FAA Proposes Relaxing Drone Restrictions

News & Politics

FAADroneOn Sunday, February 15th, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a new set of rules for drones under 55 pounds for use in non-recreational operations.

Under the new framework, operators would have to be at least 17 years old and pass an FAA test with re-certification every two years. Drone operators would not have to obtain a pilot’s license or other certifications. The regulations also provide rules of the road, including altitude and speed limits for drones. Read the full text here (PDF Link).

One section that may raise concerns with journalists, photographers, and sportscasters is:

107.39 Operation over people. No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft over a human being who is: (a) Not directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft; or (b) Not located under a covered structure that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft.

No one wants a drone haircut, but a strict interpretation of this rule could prevent use in journalism and aerial photography. Amazon has also objected to the new regulations as the FAA intends to apply the same rule that prohibits dropping objects from aircraft to drones. See the company’s response, courtesy of Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times.

The requirement that drones remain in the operator’s line of sight may also complicate Amazon and Google’s plan for drone deliveries. The proposed rules specifically disallow a system of daisy chained observers and drone camera based operation.

The proposed rules will be published soon in the Federal Register, and will have a comment period of 60 days. The FAA will also be holding a series of public meetings, the The Sandbox News will report on these when they are announced in the Federal Register.

This story was originally published in the St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab Resource Bundle on Medium.

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