Today brings great news for commercial drone operators. The FAA has finalized the Part 107 rules, which bring with them relaxed requirements. Experts estimate the new rules could generate $82 billion and 100,000 jobs for the U.S. economy in the next 10 years.
Before today, becoming certified to fly a drone commercially was a lengthy process that required one to be vastly overqualified for the task. The FAA recognized this and has been working to create a new set of rules specifically tailored for the burgeoning industry. Today's release (set to go into effect in August of this year) represents a big step forward. Here are some key aspects of the new rules:
- Unmanned aircraft must weigh less that 55 lbs.
- The aircraft must remain in visual line of sight of the pilot or the observer. The line of sight must be accomplished using vision unaided by anything except corrective lenses.
- Aircraft may not fly over people not participating in its operation or in a covered structure.
- Operation is limited to daylight and civil twilight.
- First-person views are allowable, but do not satisfy the visual line of sight or see and avoid requirement.
- Right of way must be yielded to other aircraft.
- Altitude shall not be higher than 400 ft above ground level or if higher than 400 ft, the aircraft shall remain within 400 ft of a structure.
- Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles while operating.
- Operation in Class B, C, D, and E airspace is allowable with ATC permission.
- No careless or reckless operations.
- Most restrictions can be waived through the appropriate process.
The remote pilot in command will now be required to hold a remote pilot certificate, which will require a background check and an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center, or the possession of a pilot's license and completion of an online course.
Today's update represents a much more sensible approach to licensing and regulating commercial drone usage and should make it much easier for those looking to undertake such operations. You can read the full summary of the new rules here.