The Federal Aviation Administration is set to release long-awaited rules for commercial drone use by the end of the year. Those rules, however, may end up being terribly restrictive if a new report from The Wall Street Journal pans out.
According to people familiar with the rule-making process, commercial drones will be required to operate only during daylight hours and below 400 feet. What’s more, the restrictions could require the drone operator to have a pilot’s license awarded only after completing dozens of hours flying manned aircraft.
The FAA’s rules are likely to apply to all drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Many were hoping for more lenient rules on lightweight drones as they are less risky to people on the ground as well as structures they might need to navigate.
Drones from popular recreational drone maker DJI typically tip the scales at just a few pounds.
The FAA said it is working to integrate unmanned aircraft into the busiest, most complex airspace system in the world while simultaneously protecting the American people in the air and on the ground.
Airline pilots and other small aircraft owners have shown support for the FAA’s cautions approach while others – namely those in the drone industry like Michael Droback, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition – feel a colossal mess is coming.