DOT Finalizes Drone Regulations

FAA said that, according to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs during the next 10 years. The new rule takes effect in late August.

The Federal Aviation Administration finalized its first operational rules on June 21 for the routine commercial use of drones, saying the rules open pathways toward fully integrating these unmanned aircraft into the nation's airspace. "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 Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world."

FAA said that, according to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs during the next 10 years. The new rule takes effect in late August and specifies safety regulations for drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations.

The provisions are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. "The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. Operations are allowed during daylight and during twilight if the drone has anti-collision lights. The new regulations also address height and speed restrictions and other operational limits, such as prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who aren’t directly participating in the UAS operation," according to FAA's news release.

"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."

The final rule says the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate, and then that pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.

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