When FAA declared the new set of guidelines on Wednesday, June 21 for commercial UAVs or drones, drone enthusiasts and the companies breathed a sigh of relief.
It is estimated that the rules will generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and offer more than 100,000 new jobs over the next decade. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) believes that $13.6 billion along with 70,000 jobs will be created in the initial three years alone. Everybody seems to be excited with the news, having been lobbied by the Academy of Model Aviation (AMA), Amazon, Google, Walmart, and others, the FAA allowed the commercial use of UAVs.
With one swoop of regulations, Amazon’s plans for 30-minute drone-delivery may become reality sooner rather than later. The rules leave more to be desired, but for now, it is still a great leap.
There was a need of these rules as the industry witnessed a lot of mid-air collisions. The Airline Pilots Association commended the way the rules prevent such potential accidents. Also, without these rules the UAV market wouldn’t have had a chance to grow beyond hobbyists and a very limited number of per-use waiver holders.
Following are the highlights of the rules:
- The UAVs which are weighing up to 55 pounds, travelling with the speed of 100 mph for non-hobbyist operations will be allowed.
- Flying altitude should not be higher than 400 feet.
- Operations are limited to daytime, line-of-sight use, in which the pilot can see that UAV at all times.
- Operations are allowed in uncontrolled airspace (Class G) without air traffic control (ATC) permission, but require ATC permission if flying in controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D, and E), the airspace around commercial airports.
- FAA requires commercial UAV pilots to be licensed, and will offer online courses and tests.
- Pilots have to be at least 16 years old.
- The UAV has to be registered, but need not be certified for air-worthiness, unlike full-size air-planes.
- The responsibility for preflight check lies with the pilot.