Committee recommendations pave way for drone deliveries

The FAA has been working for months to iron out drone regulations, being forced to toe the line between public safety and the needs of innovation. Drones hold a lot of promise in many fields, but current restrictions mean many companies aren't able to use them — forcing some like Amazon to head to other countries for testing. According to a new report, that could change soon, as the government is said to be working on changes that could allow commercial drone flights over populated regions.

The information comes from the Associated Press, which reports that it has learned about a committee — sponsored by the government — that is creating standards for allowing drones to be operated over populous areas. This contrasts present regulations, which require operators to avoid flying over areas where people are located...the idea being that a fallen drone could cause serious injury if it lands on someone.

Such regulations are too restrictive, though, and would make things like Amazon's drone delivery dreams an impossibility, at least in the U.S. Drone deliveries aren't the only thing hampered by current regulations; insurance companies and more anticipate using drones to survey equipment and properties, something that's currently only possible in rural, unpopulated areas.

These new commercial standards recommendations were reportedly sent to the FAA last Friday, and according to the AP, which saw a copy, they seek the creation of four categories of drone sizes that commercial entities could fly over populated regions. These drone sizes would range from as small as under half a pound, and would have permissions and restrictions based on size and safety.

Should these recommendations implemented, manufacturers would need to demonstrate the odds of their drone causing serious injury in the event of a crash as being no greater than 1-percent. While some critics and organizations are seeking a formal aviation education requirement to operate drones, a source claims that most lawmakers aren't seeking anything greater than the knowledge necessary to pass an online drone operation test.

These are only recommendations, however, and the FAA can choose to change or discard them as it sees fit.

SOURCE: Detroit News