The Federal Aviation Administration finally released its proposal for rules to regulate unmanned aircrafts 55 pounds and under. Revealed Sunday, the proposal would relax some restrictions on remote-controlled multirotor vehicles—popularly known as drones—but still forbids activities such as drone delivery and crop inspection.
The proposal looks remarkably similar to an FAA proposal leaked in late November. It would require drone operators to hold a pilot’s license and would ban drone flights outside of daylight hours. It also requires that drone operators keep their drone in their “line of sight,” which would make crop and pipeline inspection tough and package delivery impossible.
The FAA is seriously late with its drone proposal. Multirotor copters are already allowed in airspace across the world. And the FAA’s draft rules are coming out weeks after the issue crashed on the White House lawn.
See also: Why We Need A New Word For Drones
Meanwhile, small drone use has surged. Hobbyists have a wide selection of recreational drones to choose from. Aircraft pilots are increasingly reporting drone sightings alongside planes, and are concerned about collisions. Large companies like Amazon are looking into commercial uses for drones under 55 pounds, and just might have the influence to sway drone regulations from their current restrictive state into their favor.
Nearly ten years in the making, this FAA draft proposal must still undergo public comment and revision before becoming final, and that could take a year—which could make it unlikely that the FAA will meet its self-appointed September 2015 deadline for drone regulations.
Photo by Michael MK Khor