Commercial Drone Regulations: Limitations and Hopes for the Future

UAV

Credit: Richard Unten / flickr.com/photos/unten44/9631706311

The drone technology has been rapidly developing in the past few years since media and resourceful businessmen have been eager to popularize the use of the unmanned aircraft. Why aren’t we seeing the drones everywhere, since they are already so advanced and have such a great commercial potential? The answer is simple – limitations stemming from national regulatory frameworks.

The Regulations
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just issued new regulations on the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. Prior to the new announcement, many have feared that FAA would require an expensive and lengthy certification process for the commercial drones and oblige drone operators to have a pilot’s license. It turns out that the agency set smaller regulatory obstacles. However, they are still strict enough to keep the businesses grounded.

FAA suggested that people who have passed a basic aeronautical test can fly well-maintained and tested drones that weight less than 25 kilograms (55 pounds) without a certificate. Still, those that operate drones will have to keep them at a height lower than 150 meters (500 feet), fly them only during the day and not over people.

The use of personal drones are however unaffected by these rules, as they only apply to the commercial use of UAV:s.

The Implications of the New Rules
What do these new regulations mean for businesses eager to use the drone technology? For some, the new law is a relief. Farmers for example, would be able to use aircraft to monitor their crops. Real estate agents will be allowed to take pictures from the air of the houses for sale.

For other businesses, however, the freshly-issued regulations mean bad news. Amazon, for instance, has been planning to launch a drone delivery service. The ecommerce company already offers this service in Europe but will have to wait some more time until the possibility becomes available in the U.S.

The Future
FAA has already announced its willingness to have these regulations revised in the future. The agency’s position is that the rules will change as businesses evolve, operators gain more experience and the collision-avoidance drone technology develops further.

The truth is that drones advance at a faster pace than the regulations supposed to guide their usage. These aircraft are rapidly becoming less and less expensive and much lighter. The government is cautious because of the security and privacy invasion issues that drones might bring but it will have to catch up with the high demand for this exciting and promising technology.

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