The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put new rules into effect today regulating the commercial use of small, unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.
The rules apply to drones that weigh up to 55 pounds and that are being used for business purposes, whether that’s scientific research, education, media, or inspection and surveying of land, traffic, prisons, stadiums or anything else.
The Part 107 rules, which were released in late June this year, require that drones used for business purposes in the U.S. must be registered with the FAA and operated:
- During daylight hours only, 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset local time.
- Up to 400 feet above ground, generally, and at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour.
- Yielding the right of way to other aircraft, like planes and helicopters.
- Remaining within the visual line of sight (VLOS) of a remote pilot in command of the drone, and the person manning the flight controls of the drone.
The rule alleviates the need for commercial drone operators to attain a 333 exemption, or case by case exemptions and authorizations from the FAA to fly, as long as they are operating within the new rules.
But Part 107 does not allow for: drones to be flown at night for commercial purposes; in bad weather or other visibility-limited conditions; over people; or beyond the visual line of sight. The rule also disallows one pilot from managing a fleet of drones, which is technically feasible today.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a press conference today that government agencies are waiting to attain more data on the security, privacy and safety risks of drones in the national airspace before rolling out more rules and allowances that could help the industry flourish.
They made clear that actions may be taken against those who fly without obeying the Part 107 rules, including a loss of the operator’s license to fly commercially.
The FAA forecasts there may be as many as 600,000 aircraft used this year, following the implementation of Part 107.
According to estimates from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the drones industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate at least $82 billion in revenue in the first decade following the integration of drones into domestic airspace.