Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) released its small drone rule, which will take effect on August 21, 2016. The rule applies to drones weighing less than 55 pounds and used for commercial purposes. These drones may fly 400 feet above the ground at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Operators should have a remote pilot certificate with a small drone rating while using the devices for business reasons. Notably, operators may be in a moving vehicle if the drone use occurs in a “sparsely populated area.”
The FAA rule still presents on-going challenges to the business community, which hoped to maximize the effectiveness of drones. For instance, drones cannot fly over people who are not involved in their operation; must be flown within the visual line of sight of the operator; and must be airborne in the daytime or within 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset.
Hopefully, the FAA will recognize these restrictions are ordinarily unnecessary and will ultimately eliminate them. Until then, a waiver process exists for businesses to seek an FAA exemption from some of these limitations. If you need any assistance with a waiver, or have questions regarding the new rule (entitled Part 107), please call us.