FAA Clears Airspace For Commercial Drone Use

FAA Clears Airspace For Commercial Drone Use

Quadcopter Drone UAV 310x

New rules favor small, independent commerical drone use, but could squash Amazon's drone delivery service before it gets off the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration has finally taken the wraps off of its proposed rules and regulations for commercial drone/UAV/UAS usage, and larger commercial operations could be left out in the lurch.

The proposed regulations allow for relatively lax rules when it comes to commercial drones under 55 pounds. Operators would have to pass a relatively simple written exam, and upkeep of drones would be unregulated. This means the workers that would benefit from drones the most -- farmers, Hollywood camera operators, etc. -- would encounter very little red tape after the initial paperwork was completed. The test would need to be passed again every two years.

Operator certification aside, there are several key regulations when it comes to flying the drone. Operators would need to maintain line of sight at all times, and the flight ceiling is capped at 500 feet. Furthermore, drones will not be able to fly over crowds of people, "...not involved in the drone's flight," according to The Wall Street Journal. This means flying your drone over the town square isn't kosher, but a camera operator could fly over a crowd of extras or actors on a movie set without incurring the wrath of the feds. Additionally, any drone use in urban areas would need a flight plan, and approval before launch.

Additional rules could also be crafted specifically for "micro drones," or those weighing under 4.4 pounds.

While the proposed regulations should allow for smaller businesses and ventures to use drones as they see fit, the hotly-anticipated drone delivery service market (see: Amazon Prime Air) could be permanently grounded. The service would undoubtedly fly over people un-involved in the venture, and its automation means there's no pilot that would maintain line of sight.

Similar to the FCC's net neutrality proposals, the FAA has now opened a 60-day window for public comment on the proposed regulations. You can find the comment page here, if you're so inclined.

There's still no word on when my neighborhood is getting its laser-based drone defense system, unfortunately.

What do you think of the (long overdue) drone regulations? Let us know in the forums.

Source: FAA | WSJ

Permalink

To be honest I think its quite reasonable. It allows people to use them in niche areas that will not impact on safety or privacy of the average individual. You can use them to check your crops and get the aerial shots but not have 1000s cluttering up the airspace.

albino boo:
To be honest I think its quite reasonable. It allows people to use them in niche areas that will not impact on safety or privacy of the average individual. You can use them to check your crops and get the aerial shots but not have 1000s cluttering up the airspace.

Agreed wholeheartedly. While the thought of getting small packages via drone delivery is appealing, imagine how many drones Amazon would need in order to run an effective delivery service. Amazon's Prime service is already running at capacity, as evidenced by its offering eBook/music credit to those who choose longer shipping options.

-Devin Connors

This could be good first steps to drone use regulations. See if there are issues that spring up, complaints, etc.
baby steps.
Then when the waters are suitably tested the kinks ironed out that Amazon get the green light?

List:
This could be good first steps to drone use regulations. See if there are issues that spring up, complaints, etc.
baby steps.
Then when the waters are suitably tested the kinks ironed out that Amazon get the green light?

As a pilot I'm not sure that amazons drone system will work too well. They'd have to presumably be out of A-C airspace and there are so many airports around that people don't realize are there they'd have to stay away, not to mention E to the ground areas. In big cities where it might be usable there are probably multiple overlapping airspaces and approaches that a drone would have to fly way low or extremely roundabout flightpaths.

Not to mention the 2020 adsb in/out mandate which certified gear is about 7k installed.

TLDR please keep your drones below 500 ft and out of controlled airspace I don't want to die to someones DJ Phantom II while on the ILS :)

sneakypenguin:

List:
This could be good first steps to drone use regulations. See if there are issues that spring up, complaints, etc.
baby steps.
Then when the waters are suitably tested the kinks ironed out that Amazon get the green light?

As a pilot I'm not sure that amazons drone system will work too well. They'd have to presumably be out of A-C airspace and there are so many airports around that people don't realize are there they'd have to stay away, not to mention E to the ground areas. In big cities where it might be usable there are probably multiple overlapping airspaces and approaches that a drone would have to fly way low or extremely roundabout flightpaths.

Not to mention the 2020 adsb in/out mandate which certified gear is about 7k installed.

TLDR please keep your drones below 500 ft and out of controlled airspace I don't want to die to someones DJ Phantom II while on the ILS :)

Yeah, uh, that's kind of my thoughts too. I'm a student pilot, and I don't wanna be hit by one of these things... Because that would be bad...

Besides which, in my country there was an incident where a commercial jet flight came very close to hitting a drone on takeoff... Which would have had much the same effects as a bird strike, and could've caused a major disaster...

That is not a fun thought.

I can agree that Amazon's unlikely to be able to run a drone program on the first count, but I vehemently disagree with your second assertion. Thanks to satellite imaging software, there's nowhere Skynet CAN'T see.

CrystalShadow:

sneakypenguin:

List:
This could be good first steps to drone use regulations. See if there are issues that spring up, complaints, etc.
baby steps.
Then when the waters are suitably tested the kinks ironed out that Amazon get the green light?

As a pilot I'm not sure that amazons drone system will work too well. They'd have to presumably be out of A-C airspace and there are so many airports around that people don't realize are there they'd have to stay away, not to mention E to the ground areas. In big cities where it might be usable there are probably multiple overlapping airspaces and approaches that a drone would have to fly way low or extremely roundabout flightpaths.

Not to mention the 2020 adsb in/out mandate which certified gear is about 7k installed.

TLDR please keep your drones below 500 ft and out of controlled airspace I don't want to die to someones DJ Phantom II while on the ILS :)

Yeah, uh, that's kind of my thoughts too. I'm a student pilot, and I don't wanna be hit by one of these things... Because that would be bad...

Besides which, in my country there was an incident where a commercial jet flight came very close to hitting a drone on takeoff... Which would have had much the same effects as a bird strike, and could've caused a major disaster...

That is not a fun thought.

Sweet a fellow pilot, just got my ticket in December. You in US? or other country.

I'm not too paranoid about drones if they keep them below 500 ft and a few miles from the airport its not a big deal but i'm sure there will be plenty of people who will ignore the rules.

CrystalShadow:

sneakypenguin:

List:
This could be good first steps to drone use regulations. See if there are issues that spring up, complaints, etc.
baby steps.
Then when the waters are suitably tested the kinks ironed out that Amazon get the green light?

As a pilot I'm not sure that amazons drone system will work too well. They'd have to presumably be out of A-C airspace and there are so many airports around that people don't realize are there they'd have to stay away, not to mention E to the ground areas. In big cities where it might be usable there are probably multiple overlapping airspaces and approaches that a drone would have to fly way low or extremely roundabout flightpaths.

Not to mention the 2020 adsb in/out mandate which certified gear is about 7k installed.

TLDR please keep your drones below 500 ft and out of controlled airspace I don't want to die to someones DJ Phantom II while on the ILS :)

Yeah, uh, that's kind of my thoughts too. I'm a student pilot, and I don't wanna be hit by one of these things... Because that would be bad...

Besides which, in my country there was an incident where a commercial jet flight came very close to hitting a drone on takeoff... Which would have had much the same effects as a bird strike, and could've caused a major disaster...

That is not a fun thought.

As a flight instructor I wholeheartedly agree. I hate to say it, but I think the regulations on flying drones should be more strict and more in-line with a sport pilot's license, or a limited private pilot's license in terms of earning the right to fly a drone. I mean, as you pointed out Sneakypenguin, there is a lot of airspace out there that has differing operating rules within them dependent on what airspace you're flying in. Learning where this airspace is and how to identify it is not something you can learn simply by taking a written test. It's hard enough to teach student pilots what it is, and they spend hours upon hours trying to learn it.

As someone who's career depends upon the regulations and safety of air traffic I hope the FAA isn't too cavalier about drones (luckily it doesn't seem they are yet). I dread the day a general aviation aircraft or god forbid a commercial carrier aircraft is brought down accidentally by a drone collision.

sneakypenguin:

CrystalShadow:

sneakypenguin:
As a pilot I'm not sure that amazons drone system will work too well. They'd have to presumably be out of A-C airspace and there are so many airports around that people don't realize are there they'd have to stay away, not to mention E to the ground areas. In big cities where it might be usable there are probably multiple overlapping airspaces and approaches that a drone would have to fly way low or extremely roundabout flightpaths.

Not to mention the 2020 adsb in/out mandate which certified gear is about 7k installed.

TLDR please keep your drones below 500 ft and out of controlled airspace I don't want to die to someones DJ Phantom II while on the ILS :)

Yeah, uh, that's kind of my thoughts too. I'm a student pilot, and I don't wanna be hit by one of these things... Because that would be bad...

Besides which, in my country there was an incident where a commercial jet flight came very close to hitting a drone on takeoff... Which would have had much the same effects as a bird strike, and could've caused a major disaster...

That is not a fun thought.

Sweet a fellow pilot, just got my ticket in December. You in US? or other country.

I'm not too paranoid about drones if they keep them below 500 ft and a few miles from the airport its not a big deal but i'm sure there will be plenty of people who will ignore the rules.

No, Australia. Still in the early stages. I have I think 3.1 hours of flight time at this point...

Kontar:

As a flight instructor I wholeheartedly agree. I hate to say it, but I think the regulations on flying drones should be more strict and more in-line with a sport pilot's license, or a limited private pilot's license in terms of earning the right to fly a drone. I mean, as you pointed out Sneakypenguin, there is a lot of airspace out there that has differing operating rules within them dependent on what airspace you're flying in. Learning where this airspace is and how to identify it is not something you can learn simply by taking a written test. It's hard enough to teach student pilots what it is, and they spend hours upon hours trying to learn it.

As someone who's career depends upon the regulations and safety of air traffic I hope the FAA isn't too cavalier about drones (luckily it doesn't seem they are yet). I dread the day a general aviation aircraft or god forbid a commercial carrier aircraft is brought down accidentally by a drone collision.

Yes. As I said, it almost happened here. A commercial flight in Sydney almost hit one on take-off... Which is really one of the worst possible moments for something like that to happen. Though obviously it's never good.

And yep. Airspace is confusing. Australian airspace is a bit less finicky than US airspace. (We only have class A-D airspace really, and the rest is class G), but it's still hard to get to grips with.

I'm lucky in that I get lessons at a non-towered airport in class G airspace (though it has mandatory radio reporting), The space near the airport itself is class D, but past that...

Even so, just knowing that within reasonable flying distances there is a major city which has a lot of class B and C airspace, a major international airport, a military airfield, and some military controlled airspace (with some weird quirks of it's own), low altitude restrictions, and obviously the usual high-altitude ones as well...

Also several nearby airfields have extensive glider operations, though that's a somewhat different issue. XD

It's a lot to take in. And to think of all these drones just flying around in all that with so little control over it... Wow.

Kontar:
snip snip
As a flight instructor I wholeheartedly agree. I hate to say it, but I think the regulations on flying drones should be more strict and more in-line with a sport pilot's license, or a limited private pilot's license in terms of earning the right to fly a drone. I mean, as you pointed out Sneakypenguin, there is a lot of airspace out there that has differing operating rules within them dependent on what airspace you're flying in. Learning where this airspace is and how to identify it is not something you can learn simply by taking a written test. It's hard enough to teach student pilots what it is, and they spend hours upon hours trying to learn it.

As someone who's career depends upon the regulations and safety of air traffic I hope the FAA isn't too cavalier about drones (luckily it doesn't seem they are yet). I dread the day a general aviation aircraft or god forbid a commercial carrier aircraft is brought down accidentally by a drone collision.

Hot damn who knew the escapist had pilots on the board. General aviation is dead in my part of the country so the only pilots I know are all 50+years old and fly on CAVU weekends for a lap around the pattern. I'd like to get my CFI but I gotta go through this instrument rating crap 40 hours of hoodtime ugh I hated the 3 hours for my PPL.

CrystalShadow:
No, Australia. Still in the early stages. I have I think 3.1 hours of flight time at this point...

Sweet well stick with it I know I hit a rut about 25 hours in not to mention money sometimes gets scarce for me when those 1500 dollar bills come in lol. I kinda lucked out though did my training at a little grass strip 60 bucks an hour c150 rental and CFI was 40 an hour so came in after checkride and all that about 5k.

sneakypenguin:

CrystalShadow:
No, Australia. Still in the early stages. I have I think 3.1 hours of flight time at this point...

Sweet well stick with it I know I hit a rut about 25 hours in not to mention money sometimes gets scarce for me when those 1500 dollar bills come in lol. I kinda lucked out though did my training at a little grass strip 60 bucks an hour c150 rental and CFI was 40 an hour so came in after checkride and all that about 5k.

Yeah, the cost is a big issue. I don't have a whole heap of money to work with. XD

Fortunately I'm at an airfield outside controlled airspace. It's pretty busy, and relatively large, but if I were in a major city, you might be facing landing fees on top of everything... XD

I think I pay about $240 (australian) for lessons with my instructor. Would be about half that for solo flights...
But there have been some random costs already that quickly add up. Various membership fees are due, textbooks... And later it'll get worse, I'm sure. XD

Australia undoubtedly has it's own quirks of course, but for the most part, the rules are based on international regulations, so... It works out pretty similarly in the end.
(I guess the biggest thing, which I run into reading stuff online, and dealing with sims and such) is we measure aircraft loading in KG and fuel loads in litres...

Of course, we still have to measure altitude in feet, which is a bit of a convoluted thing to wrap your head around when you live in a country using the metric system... XD

Oh well. Flying around at 4000 feet doing 100 knots IAS in a tiny little plane is... An interesting experience, to say the least. XD

Devin Connors:

albino boo:
To be honest I think its quite reasonable. It allows people to use them in niche areas that will not impact on safety or privacy of the average individual. You can use them to check your crops and get the aerial shots but not have 1000s cluttering up the airspace.

Agreed wholeheartedly. While the thought of getting small packages via drone delivery is appealing, imagine how many drones Amazon would need in order to run an effective delivery service. Amazon's Prime service is already running at capacity, as evidenced by its offering eBook/music credit to those who choose longer shipping options.

-Devin Connors

Its even worse than that. If the drones stack up economically, then all the big delivery companies will use them too. The sky would full of Amazon, DHL and Fedex drones.

As someone trying to break into the film industry and who might someday be using drones regularly for his job; this seems quite fine to me. Special stipulation about flying over the public has been stated but using them at all when recording contracted actors/extras is fine. The line of sight thing is also interesting. Probably cool that if anyone makes a big deal out of the drone's flight, the operator will not be far away to talk to in order to explain things.

I imagine there will be a lot of pushback on this anyway just because 'Drones are teh evil'. Not all drones are created equally and like any tech there are many positive possibilities for them. I'm still vehemently opposed to UAV military strikes however.

so FAA is planning to introduce these rules, but my immediate, and possibly paranoid question is how will this be enforced?

so given standard aircraft operations of plains, and copters when say Airforce1 is in air at radius of 300 miles is considered military airspace, and say that even a standard enthusiast (unlicensed) is in the park goes a little too high will we be seeing F16s scrambled to possibly open fire?

then we have a worse situation considering the ease (financial, and availability) to obtain, construct, and operate a drone that can easily carry up to 50 lbs. even a person who for nefarious reasons does so. there are a lot of highly dangerous things that could be carried that weigh under 50 lbs, and this is without even starting to talk about your truly weaponized pathogens, or even someone figuring out how to mount a lighter weight turret to one, and flying that into say Time Square we are talking of dozens, or even hundreds dead before a reasonable response could even happen.

 

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