FAA reviewing drone approval process for commercial use

Nate Swanner - May 19, 2014
FAA reviewing drone approval process for commercial use

The FAA is re-visiting their policy on drones, and will possibly allow some to take flight via a streamlined approval process. The FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Division chief, Jim Williams, made overtones about the changes at a conference in Orlando on Friday.

The use of small, unmanned aircraft used for things like film making, farming, or other low-risk activities may see their approval process be streamlined to allow them to take to the air quickly. There are no current permitted flights of that nature, but with the widespread growth of drones, it’s something that needs a touch of oversight.

The FAA rule change would likely apply to drones less than 55 pounds, and take effect by November of this year. The FAA is still examining just how to proceed with the specified requests of those in industries that don’t pose a public safety concern in flying the drones.

Widespread applications can be imagined for such drones, with the FCC noting agriculture and land speculation among those industries. Sans regulations, it could lead to widespread abuse, polluting the skies with drones. The FAA would likely restrict flight altitude, area of coverage, and who may operate such drones.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which sponsored the event Wiliams spoke at on Friday, is pleased with such changes. In an emailed statement, President and CEO of the AUVSI Michael Toscano said “We applaud the FAA for working collaboratively with the industry and other stakeholders”.

Source: Bloomberg

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