New FAA rules let US drone operators fly

Multiple drones

A new set of much-anticipated rules from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be opening up the US airspace for commercial drone operators. This is really great news for many businesses and organizations that want to use drones for a variety of uses – but don’t expect mainstream home delivery services, like Amazon, to benefit from the new rules just yet.

These new rules govern the use of drones for commercial purposes. According to the FAA’s “Part 107”, which lists the conditions for commercial drone operations within the US skies, operators will be allowed to fly small unmanned aircraft systems – or “drones” – weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilos) during broad daylight, provided that the operators maintain a clear line of sight of the drone’s flight.

In addition, drone operators will not be needing a pilot’s license to fly them. Part 107 states that operators must be at least 16 years of age, underwent screening from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and pass an FAA test leading to a two-year certification.

Previously before Part 107 was unveiled, it was quite difficult for commercial drone operators in the US to gain rights to operate. They had to acquire certain waivers, and the FAA had the task to screen these waivers and approve them on a case-to-case basis.

Many companies and organizations in the US are using drones for commercial purposes, and the FAA aligned Part 107 in meeting their usage criteria. Media groups, for example, use drones to capture aerial footage and wide-angle aerial photography. Other uses for drones in businesses that include infrastructure inspections and surveying, where human deployment might prove risky or dangerous; in scientific research; and in agriculture.

The FAA limits the operation of commercial drones to a maximum height of 400 feet (120 meters), and a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 kph). This is to ensure that drone operators will only use their equipment for its intended use, and safety is FAA’s top priority.

For online retailers like Amazon, FAA is looking into expanding its rules to these entities. Many other retailers, like Google and China-based Alibaba, are looking into the possibility of using drones as the future of home deliveries. It can be recalled that Amazon announced its plan of drone-operated deliveries, where anyone can put up their order on the Amazon website, and expect their parcel to be delivered at their doorsteps within 30 minutes.

Starting with the US opening up their skies for drone operations, it can be seen that other countries might follow suit, making drones a commonplace in many airspace’s across the world.