DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Drones

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration have unveiled proposed rules for drone flights. The plan maintains aviation safety standards, but may make it difficult for companies hoping to use drones for delivery service.

According to the proposal, unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds would only be allowed to fly between sunrise and sunset. Operators would be required to keep drones within line of sight and prohibited from dropping cargo.

The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:
–A small small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.
–The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.
–A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.
–A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.
–Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.
–Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).
–Operators must be at least 17 years of age and obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate.

The rules would effectively shut down Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery plans. While the proposed rules wouldn’t allow companies to deliver orders using unmanned aircraft, it could open further opportunities for drones to be used in search and rescue, and in farming.

The proposal will be opened to public consultation before it is implemented, which could take up to two years. Until that process is completed, the current rules governing unmanned aircraft will remain in effect.

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