How The FAA's Proposed Drone Rules Will Affect What You Care About

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
February 15, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration announced its proposal this morning for what rules should govern small unmanned aerial systems, meaning drones 55 pounds or lighter. We do not know how long it will take for the rules to go into effect. When they do, the new rules will permit vastly more drone use in the United States, bringing us closer into line with other countries where drones can be commercially operated today.

What follows is a list of concerns and hopes many have followed by a brief analysis of how the proposed rules fare in addressing them. For more, I encourage you to read my Forbes colleague Gregory McNeal’s excellent blogging as well.

  1. Do you care about safety?

People worry about drones falling out of the sky or running into a plane. The rules take a number of “common sense” steps to address safety concerns. As an initial matter, they only permit lighter drones to be used commercially. The rules also prohibit use near airports and “careless or reckless” use in general. No pilot license is required, but operators must complete a safety training and take a test each year. Drones must be inspected before flight. Operators cannot operate at night and must keep the plane within line of sight at all times. The weather must be good enough. And drones cannot travel faster than 100 miles per hour.

  1. Do you care about security?

People worry about drones being used to commit crimes, including terrorism. The new rules require that operators be “vetted” in some way by the Transportation Security Administration. Of course, criminals and terrorists willing to transport contraband or blow something up are not going to check in with TSA first.

Read the full piece at Forbes.