Remote-controlled cars and planes have been popular toys for decades. But, the past five years have seen a huge rise in popularity for drones, the remote-controlled aircraft that can fly to extraordinary heights and fast speeds. These devices can be bought from a variety of retail establishments including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Amazon.
In fact, Amazon has toyed with using drones as a means of delivering their packages to customers. Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a change to the rules that govern the use of drones.
The last set of regulations, released in July 2018, specify a few different operating requirements that include:
- Operators of a drone aren’t to use the vehicle in a careless manner. Drones must always be within unaided sight of the operator. (In other words, they must use their naked eye and not use binoculars to track the drone.) If you’re using a First Person View to pilot the drone, you must have a visual observer who can watch the drone for you to make sure it stays in your general area.
- Pilots can fly a drone only during daylight hours. This means that you can only fly from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. You must also have at least three miles of visibility and your drone cannot fly higher than 400 feet with a maximum speed of 100 mph.
- Users are restricted from flying a drone over individuals who are not participating with its operation and you cannot fly them indoors. Additionally, you may not use a drone to transport more than 55 pounds of total payload and cargo.
- Users must also register with the FAA and receive a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.
Since these restrictions were put in place, the FAA has amended some of them and added new classifications. These have just been proposed in January 2019 and include the following:
- Drone pilots will now be able to operate drones over crowds of people if the individuals are notified that a drone will be flying overhead. This would allow for drones to be used at concerts and athletic events, including being able to fly indoors in concert arenas and stadiums.
- The new regulations call for a classification system to be established based on weight and maneuverability to help prevent injuries. Manufacturers of drones will have to demonstrate how materials and restrictions such as speed and altitude limits can prevent injuries.
- These recommendations call for a stream-lining of the waiver process to make it easier for drone operators to get exemptions for certain rules.
- New regulations are being suggested requiring anti-collision lights to be installed on drones.
- Finally, the FAA is seeking recommendations for changes to the 100mph limit and for allowing more than 55 pounds of cargo to be transported. At this time, these are just options and have not been formally put into writing.
Remember to be safe with security around your drone. Reports that the Federal Aviation Administration are concerned about the possibility of cybersecurity threats related to drone usage have surfaced in previous months. As drones become more and more popular, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between caution and moving technological advancements forward.
When drones started to become popular, the FAA was caught a little off-guard and have been playing catch-up ever since trying to put some regulation to these machines. They can be a great tool for fun and education, but if left unchecked they could be potentially dangerous and destructive.
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