Wednesday, June 22, 2016
FAA OKs Drones With Restrictions
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared the way for routine use of small commercial drones in the Obama administration’s first major step toward integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.
The long-anticipated rule, which was finalized on Tuesday, applies to commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds.
The Hill reports commercial operators currently must apply for a special exemption, known as a “section 333” waiver, in order to take flight, a process drone advocates have lamented is timely and costly.
Under the new rule, the waiver process will no longer be needed. Instead, operators must be at least 16 years old, register their drones online and pass an aviation knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct background checks on all remote pilot applications.
Unmanned aircraft systems must stay in the operator’s visual line of sight and can fly up to 400 feet and 100 miles per hour, similar to the guidelines under section 333 waivers.
But to the welcome surprise of drone advocates, the new rule permits drones to fly during twilight hours, meaning 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset, as long as the aircraft is equipped with anti-collision technology that provides lighting for three miles. Operators can also apply for nighttime flights under the rule.
The new regulation will take effect in 60 days, but officials emphasized that those with a section 333 exemption are entitled to keep their waiver until it expires.
Under the new rules...you’ll have to be 16 years old, understand English and, most importantly, you have to have a Part 107 operators certificate. What does it take to get one? You have to take a knowledge test “that includes knowledge of airspace, airspace operating requirements, and the use of aeronautical charts,” among other things. Generally, the FAA’s tests are 40 questions, multiple choice, and you have to get a 70 percent to pass.
Posted 3:08:00 AM