FAA expected to announce rules for commercial drones this week

The rules may disappoint some proposed commercial operations like those of Amazon.com

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is expected to announce this week rules for the commercial use of drones, but the new regulations will limit their flights to daytime and to within the line of sight of operators.

The specifics of the rules, which will allow drones weighing about 50 pounds, could come as soon as Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting industry officials. But they are unlikely to please some proposed commercial operations of drones, which would like the aircraft to be allowed to operate at nights and outside the operator’s line of sight.

The FAA had proposed in February last year draft rules, which would allow commercial drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems, to operate, though under restrictions such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds (25 kilograms), flight altitude of a maximum of 500 feet (152 meters) above ground level, and rules that limit flights to daylight and to the visual line of sight of the operators.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in January that the much-delayed rules would be finalized by late spring. “By late spring, we plan to finalize Part 107, our small UAS rule, which will allow for routine commercial drone operations," Huerta said at an event in May, reiterating the proposed timeline.

But Amazon.com told the FAA last year that the rules as proposed would not allow its Prime Air package delivery service to take off. Pointing out that its drones require minimal human intervention, Amazon recommended that the rules “specifically permit the operation of multiple small UAS by a single UAS operator when demonstrated that this can be done safely.”

Perhaps recognizing that its rules need to evolve quickly with regard to the rapidly changing technology, FAA said in May it was setting up a long-term advisory committee, led by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, to guide it on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace. The FAA has already been permitting as exemptions some experimental uses of drones.

There have been concerns that the unfettered use of drones, particularly by hobbyists could have safety implications after reports that some of these drones were found flying close to aircraft. Some civil rights groups and legislators have also raised privacy concerns about the use of drones, including by businesses.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration released in May a list of voluntary best practices on personal data collections by drones that it said were arrived at in consensus by drone organizations and companies like Amazon and Google’s parent Alphabet.

New safety rules in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, passed by the U.S. Senate in April, propose a pilot program to develop and test technologies to intercept or shut down drones when they are near airports. To avoid conflict between the variety of laws enacted by the states and federal regulations on drones, the bill has proposed that the FAA rules on drones get preemption over local and state laws. But some legislators  are expected to oppose the rule that will prevent the states from making laws on drones as the bill goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?