Friday is your last chance to comment on the FAA's drone regulations

Commercial drones could take widespread flight as early as 2016

The U.S. will take another step towards regular commercial flight of drones on Friday when the Federal Aviation Administration closes a two-month public comment period on proposed rules.

Over 3,600 comments have been submitted as part of the process, which seeks feedback on regulations that would allow companies to fly drones, provided they remain within line of sight, stay below 400 feet and don't fly over people. Drones also can't be flown within 5 miles of an airport, unless the airport has been notified and given clearance for the flight.

Currently, commercial operation of unmanned aircraft is banned unless a company applies for and gets a special waiver, but the new rules will change that. They are expected to enter force in late 2016 or early 2017.

The comments received, available for viewing on the web, are a mixed bag. Some question why it's taking the FAA so long in coming up with these rules, some ask for less restrictions and others request more restrictions. Many come from members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, worried that model aircraft might end up being bound by the more restrictive flight rules for drones.

In the closing days of the period, some companies and organizations have been having a say.

NASA asked the FAA to remember that it has special dispensation as a government agency to approve its own flights and wants that recognized in the final regulations. And the National Transportation Safety Board offered some suggestions on how notification and investigation of drone accidents might be worked into the overall plan.

"This is a good first step," said Brian Wynne, president of The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUSVI), a trade group that counts more than 600 companies as members. "However, we need to permit more expansive uses of [drones] than those contemplated in the draft rules, otherwise we risk stunting a still-nascent industry, and restricting the many great uses of this technology."

In a conference call with reporters, Wynne said he wants to see the FAA adopt a risk-based, technology-neutral approach that manages restrictions on drone flight based on what wants to be done, where it will be done and how it will be done.

He also criticized the FAA's restriction on line-of-sight, saying it is vital for industries like agriculture to allow drones to fly beyond the view of the operator, and the restriction on daytime flight, saying drones have lights and are easier to see at night.

Once the comment period is closed, the FAA will begin examining the submissions for possible inclusion in its proposed regulations.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentlegislationroboticsU.S. Federal Aviation Administration

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

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?