FAA Rules For Drones Finally Proposed

Drones will be publicly legal within a few years.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has at last issued proposed rules for drones. The list of proposed regulations for drones, which wouldn’t go into effect for a couple of years, includes things like not flying at night, not going out of the operator’s sight, and not buzzing around near airports.

There are also different categories of rules for drones of different sizes, categorized by weight. Anything under 55 pounds is considered a small drone and can theoretically be used for tasks like looking at crops and and taking photographs. Smaller drones will have correspondingly fewer restrictions. Drones that weigh less than a sack of flour, under 4.4 pounds, will probably have more freedom to get around.

Flying over crowds of people likely won’t be allowed for drones of any size.

The FAA told the Associated Press on Sunday that they wanted to create a set of rules for drones that could accommodate the largest number of people.

“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

“We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”

It has taken the FAA several years just to draft legislation and proposed rules for drone use in the U.S. It will cover how everyone from cops to real estate agents use the small unmanned aircraft. People who operate drones would also have to pass some kind of written test and pay the government nearly $200 in registration fees.

There is currently no rule that drones would have to flown only by people with some type of flying experience, though.

As with all proposed government rules of this type, rules for drones now have stay open for public review and comment by law. That review and comment period alone will probably take until 2017, followed by another period of ramp-up of study, training, testing, registration, and processing of fees for drone operators.

According to the Washington Post, the FAA expects at least 7,000 businesses will go through the steps of getting licenses to fly drones in the first three years that the rules go into effect. The real number could be significantly higher.

For those worried about privacy, the proposed rules also include some stipulations for protection of personal data and information. Federal agencies that use drones will be required to follow a variety of rules related to privacy and civil rights, including discarding information identifying individuals within 180 days.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]