Federal guidelines for commercial-drone use may be even harsher than expected, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The WSJ apparently got hold of the FAA’s drafted rules through anonymous sources. Among other restrictions, the prospective rules would require drone operators to hold a pilot’s license and would ban drone flights outside of daylight hours.
Currently, the FAA requires would-be commercial-drone operators to obtain case-by-case basis approval. Efforts to lift the restrictions have been slow. The FAA has been working on guidelines for the better part of two years and plans to have them finalized by September 2015.
However, recreational drone use has surged. Aircraft pilots are increasingly reporting drone sightings alongside planes, and are concerned about collisions. However, some drone supporters believe the FAA’s intense restrictions, including the need for a manned pilot’s license to operate a small drone, have gone too far. For example, the ruling would group all drones weighing 55 pounds or less under one set of rules. That would impose the same rules on hobbyist machines and significantly larger commercial drones alike.
“[The rule will be] so divorced from the technology and the aspirations of this industry … that we’re going to see a loud rejection,” Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, an advocacy group for drone makers, told the WSJ.
To be fair, the WSJ story has the hallmarks of a leak from drone proponents, quite likely one intended to help organize opposition to the FAA rules. We may not be getting the whole story, and we won’t know for sure until the FAA discloses its final decision.
Photo by Don McCullough