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Businesses Transportation United States

New FAA Rules Allow US Companies To Fly Drones Without a Pilot's License (faa.gov) 124

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced new rules for commercial drones. It states that drone pilots can now fly without waiting to get permission from the government. Previously, commercial operators were required to apply for a waiver from the FAA to operate small drones for commercial purposes. According to the new regulation, a drone must weigh less than 25kg, and it must fly under 400 feet (122m) and at a maximum speed of 161km per hour. DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg said: This is a major development for the future of drones in America. It means that businesses and farmers and government agencies and academic researchers can put drones to work without having to get an airplane pilot's license or follow other onerous rules. Those were pretty high barriers to entry. Part 107 is a vote of confidence from the FAA that drones can be safely integrated into the national airspace, and that a wider adoption of drones for all sorts of non-recreational uses will bring real benefits to America.More coverage on The Verge, and Reuters.
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New FAA Rules Allow US Companies To Fly Drones Without a Pilot's License

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  • http://www.faa.gov/uas/media/P... [faa.gov]
    Is that not the point of the remote pilot airman certificate?
    • by bytestorm ( 1296659 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @11:16AM (#52359765)
      Nevermind, it's not clear from the summary, but all of the articles mention this. Yes there is still licensing, no the rules are not as strenuous as a full pilot's license (no medical, etc).
      FPV flight is still dead without a waiver. Interestingly, you can fly above 400' as long as you are within 400' of a structure (eg, for remote visual inspection of tall buildings).
      • by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @12:31PM (#52360331)

        Nevermind, it's not clear from the summary, but all of the articles mention this. Yes there is still licensing, no the rules are not as strenuous as a full pilot's license (no medical, etc).

        FPV flight is still dead without a waiver. Interestingly, you can fly above 400' as long as you are within 400' of a structure (eg, for remote visual inspection of tall buildings).

        Licensing is for commercial operations. Recreation / hobby use remains unchanged.

        FPV is fine provided some means of situational awareness (eg. a spotter) is maintained. The wavier is needed if you don't intend to use a spotter.

        The biggest disappointment is maintaining the Line Of Sight (LOS) requirement, although with the situational awareness requirement I do see the (gasp!) consistency in the regulations.

  • 50 pound drones filling the skies flying to and fro. My, I am going to carry my umbrella more often...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would very much like to see a picture of this umbrella you have that will protect you from a 50 pound object falling from 500 feet.

    • Quoting the new regulation:
      Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons
      not directly participating in the operation

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        So pretty much limited to a farmers field then without overshooting the property boundaries.
        • Yeah it's limiting. One popular use is for high value real estate. That will be allowed, if for example you're selling a home with land, or any retail/ office real estate with a parking lot. Block the driveways some time when the business is closed and you're good to go.

          I shoot fireworks shows. Fireworks shows have been popular with drone operators. In fact, there is a real nice professional looking drone video of one of my shows on Youtube. It just so happens that when we launch explosives into the ai

  • Note the clause: "FAA is not requiring small UAS to comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification". There is nothing pertaining about use of drones in concert which ironically, is being researched by MIT because groups of smaller drones working together may be more efficient than having a single larger drones, and this includes lifting medium to heayweight objects. Oh, and the job opportunities? What about the jobs that this new freedom allows drones to replace. This isn't ab
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @11:44AM (#52359963)
      So, we currently have millions of people flying millions of drones with many, many millions of hours in the air. How many have you heard of actually hurting people ... compared to, say, wet restaurant floors, police vehicles in high speed chases, poison salad bars, suicidally crazy airline pilots, or medical errors in hospitals?

      And, handing out licenses in the name of "corporate profit?" Like, say, when a guy who runs a landscaping business wants to take some photos of his work? Or when a guy who does roofing for a living wants to check some gutters that are 40' off the ground? Eeeeevil corporations being all corporate and evil and trying to make money!

      How do you even function, from minute to minute, as furious as you are at all of the people around you who are trying to make some money? Also, how is it that you feed yourself without making money?
      • In response to that, doing something is one thing. Doing it without proper precautions and oversight is another. There is plenty of discussion about how much regulation of drones is required. That is a separate debate. what is crucial to this is it's about industrial uses for these devices. Generally household drones only have a camera. Although...some very clever (and dangerous) people have mounted flamethrowers and firearms on homemade drones. Now technically this is not illegal, but it probably should be
        • In response to that, doing something is one thing. Doing it without proper precautions and oversight is another.

          People have been flying RC aircraft for many decades now, without the nanny state being involved. And the FAA is still allowing hobbyists to fly all they want without "oversight" and certification, etc. You do get that part, right?

          what is crucial to this is it's about industrial uses for these devices

          And the new small UAS rule they published will be of only moderate use to industrial users. Why? Because it limits the size, weight, and (please pay attention, here) requires that all operations are line of sight only. The operator can't be a computer, or someone sitting in an

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Well, not many because the vast majority of those people are flying toy quadcopters that weigh about 1-2 kg. Picture drones that are near the top of the spec range listed above -- 55 pounds traveling at 100 mph and 400 feet of altitude. There aren't many people flying drones like those -- yet. But if there were millions of them drone fatalities would be a commonplace event.

        Clearly there should be unlicensed (but still regulated for things like privacy) drones at the low end of the mass/energy scale, and

        • Heh, there should be a requirement to have a man walk in front with a red flag, and if a horse or skater comes near, it should be required to land and let them pass before continuing.
    • There is nothing pertaining about use of drones in concert

      I guess you missed the bit in the regulations about not flying over people:

      The new regulations also address height and speed restrictions and other operational limits, such as prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who aren’t directly participating in the UAS operation.

      • A 'net' over the concert wouldn't be that odd, and could they then be classed as 'protected' ?

        Also, could they class them as part of the UAS Operation ;)

      • There is nothing pertaining about use of drones in concert

        I guess you missed the bit in the regulations about not flying over people:

        What does flying in concert have to do with flying over people? You're confusing "in concert", as in "multiple devices cooperating to accomplish a task", which is what the rest of that sentence clearly talked about, with "at a concert", which is something completely different.

    • Re:Look out below!! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @12:29PM (#52360321)

      What about the jobs that this new freedom allows drones to replace.

      Yes, Mr. Ludd, what about the jobs this new freedom allows drones to replace?

      Oh, and while you're thinking about that, consider the jobs that were replaced when those new-fangled computers came on the scene. And cars. And refrigerators. And railroads. And the cotton gin. And sailing ships. And plows...the list goes on and on, eh?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @11:25AM (#52359805)

    It's ok to fly whatever drones you want if you're doing it commercially, but flying it for leisure is a nono.

    Glad we established that business is more important than having fun.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @11:47AM (#52359985)

      It's ok to fly whatever drones you want if you're doing it commercially, but flying it for leisure is a nono.

      What makes you say that? It's been a no-no for commercial operators (without real pilots' certs and 333 waivers) to use them while the very same people, using them recreationally, have been perfectly legal all along. You have it exactly backwards, until this change, and now both groups can use them. Of course they're still subject to all sorts of rules related to where, how, over what, how high, etc., and all of the machines have to be registered with the DoT.

      • If these new speed limits apply to hobbiest the feds are about to be inundated with complaints.

        I spent good money on that pulse jet. Damned if it's grounded. Pulse on demand quad pulse jets will be here soon. That will sound really cool.

        You don't even want to know what a mini turbine costs.

        They're not even allowing 200mph? Pylon racers are hanging from the motor, building speed at 200mph.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @11:25AM (#52359809)
    when can i get a waiver for driving on the ground, and they let these people fly drones commercially, what happens when the Coca Cola bottling company uses drones to deliver cases of coke to the local stores and they drop them on top of people? there needs to be accountability and liability for commercial drones flying over populated areas
    • Coca Cola isn't going to be using line-of-sight drone operations to deliver cases of liquid drinks with an aircraft weighing under 25kg. Laws of physics and whatnot.
    • by tsqr ( 808554 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2016 @12:39PM (#52360437)

      when can i get a waiver for driving on the ground, and they let these people fly drones commercially, what happens when the Coca Cola bottling company uses drones to deliver cases of coke to the local stores and they drop them on top of people? there needs to be accountability and liability for commercial drones flying over populated areas

      From the FAA press release: "The new regulations also address height and speed restrictions and other operational limits, such as prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who aren’t directly participating in the UAS operation." Also, see SceentCone's comment regarding the laws of physics.

      Amazon's drone delivery dreams aside, the vast majority of commercial drone usage is going to be infrastructure (power grid, railway bridges, etc.) or agriculture (crop monitoring). Plus (maybe) inspection of hard-to-reach areas of homes such as roofs and rain gutters.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Dropping cases on people would kind of require flying over people, which is not allowed.

      • You could launch the case ballistically and hit someone without ever flying over them. You would have to fly 'at them' at least momentarily.

    • You're ignoring efficiency issues. Coca-Cola is going to continue using trucks for delivery because it's more energy efficient and lower maintenance than using drones. Even if the cost of a drone comes down to $200 for one that can carry a case (about 10 pounds for a 12-pack), the ability to carry even 10,000 pounds involves an astronomical cost of $200,000 for a thousand drones, plus the time of operation for one pilot per drone ($7,250 per hour at federal minimum wage), plus maintenance and replacement

  • Good! (Score:1, Troll)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    We let any Tom, Dick, or Harry walk around with a high speed killing machine strapped to his hip. In terms of safety, drones aren't even remotely on my list of concerns.
  • There is a song for this, Pennies from Heaven.

    On the first day of Yuletide, Santa sent for me, a drone carrying a fancy camera ... Pull!
    On the second day of Yuletide, Santa sent for me, a drone carrying a fancy suit ... Pull!

    Pennies. From Heaven.

  • Think of it as a favor. OR crony corporatism, if you prefer. Same thing. Corporations can do this, but John Q. Citizen has different rules, because, business.

    • Think of it as a favor. OR crony corporatism, if you prefer. Same thing. Corporations can do this, but John Q. Citizen has different rules, because, business.

      You don't actually have any idea what you're talking about, do you?

      Recreational users have been allowed to fly the exact same stuff the whole time. It was only the commercial operators who were banned, unless they went through some seriously onerous and expensive steps, and had people with traditional pilots' certificates operating a machine that a hobby user could operate with no certificate at all. This doesn't impact hobby fliers in any way. They can just keep doing what they've been doing.

      Nice at

      • 0. "Out of curiosity, is it safe to assume you've never actually owned or been involved in running a business?" It is not. I have been both, though starting a business may not count, right?

        1. I feel the Bern, right in my back pocket. His brand of cronyism will destroy us all, even businesses. Hillary will try at least to save Wall Street, despite her protests. Trump will of course change little in this regard.

        So help me here. By relaxing the commercial operator restrictions to those similar to hobby restr

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          Well, for starters, the rules are not similar to hobby restrictions.

          A commercial operator must be 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate. A hobbyist is not under such restrictions.
          A commercial operator may not fly over people. A hobbyist is not under such restrictions.
          A commercial operator may only fly during daytime, or at twilight with proper lights. A hobbyist is not under such restrictions.
          A commercial operator must maintain line of sight. A hobbyist is not under such restrictions.

          In fact,

          • A commercial operator must be 16 years old

            That's an annoyingly specific restriction.

            You've got one year to make it as a professional drone pilot, kid; then you're out.

            A commercial operator may not fly over people.

            I should hope not. But what about their dones?

          • You might want to recheck the rules for hobby flying, because VLOS certainly is a requirement for hobby flight, and the preceding two are also part of the "knowbeforeyoufly" list.

            The only major difference twixt hobby and 107 is the RPC, and the commercial authorization.

        • So help me here. By relaxing the commercial operator restrictions to those similar to hobby restrictions, this is reasonable in you view? Why?

          Yes, it's very reasonable. Although that's not what they're actually doing, is it? Recreational users don't have to pay for and pass, every two years, an FAA certificate test, as the new rules require.

          Regardless: this is reasonable because right now millions of people are flying millions of "drones" and other RC aircraft (as they've been doing for decades), with untold millions of hours in the air. The number of injuries is statistically meaningless - essentially zero - especially compared to other rout

  • And all the rules go out the window. The secret service will step in and forbid all drone flights within 100 miles of someone they are protecting.
    • The Secret Service already requests the FAA to issue NOTAMs surrounding VIP movement. Being in the DC area, I get regular updates telling be when it's suddenly illegal to operate a 12-ounce plastic toy copter within wide ranges of where Obama or another VIP is attending a fundraising dinner at a fancy house along the Potomac in suburban MD or VA. Happens all the time. And of course it's long been illegal to operate any sort of RC machine of any kind in a 30-mile-wide circle around the White House/Capitol Hi

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