All Industry 21/06/2016

FAA confirms U.S. commercial drone rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today finalised the rules for the future commercial use of drones.

Since 2012, the FAA has been working to clear the path for the wider use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for governmental and commercial purposes. This saw the FAA propose a full set of rulesin February 2015, before the FAA today finalised these rules by publishing Part 107 of Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Part 107 will come into effect in late August.

“The finalisation of the United States’ drone rules is exciting news,” said Jean-Christophe Zufferey, senseFly’s CEO. “The Part 107 rules are pragmatic and safety-conscious, but simultaneously offer American businesses more flexibility than ever before, making it easier for them to employ UAS like our popular eBee mapping drones to collect the accurate data they need­.”

Under the Part 107 legislation, small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) operators will not be required to pass a medical exam, nor have liability insurance. No Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) will need to be filed prior to commencing a drone operation, and operators will only need to pass an aeronautical knowledge test, rather than acquire a pilot’s license.

The main notable difference between the FAA’s previously proposed draft rules and this week’s part 107 rules is the maximum above-ground flight height permitted. This has been set at 400 feet, the same as the existing ceiling for Section 333 exemption usage, rather than the previously proposed 500 feet.

According to industry estimates quoted in the FAA’s announcement today, the Part 107 drone legislation could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

“With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”

Read the FAA’s Part 107 announcement.

Read our Waypoint blog’s Part 107 guide.