The European Commission wants to make it easier for lightweight drones to fly autonomously in European airspace -- with logistics, inspection services and agricultural businesses set to benefit. Simpler regulations will be welcomed by multinational businesses such as gas giant Engie, which is developing drones for tasks such as pipeline or building inspection or for cleaning the insulators on high-voltage overhead power lines. Other businesses, including some exhibiting at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget this week, will see common rules as a way to simplify the development of drones and related services. While the drone air traffic control rules won't have much effect on its tethered drone, which is intended for inspecting the interiors of large industrial buildings, they could make life simpler for another drone it is developing to clean the insulators on overhead power lines.
After months of delays and much anticipation, the Federal Aviation Administration finally released its final rule on small drones. Industry experts have argued for years that the United States risked falling behind in the burgeoning drone market and missing out on countless opportunities for growth.
Drones in national parks are a safety hazard and nuisance to visitors and wildlife, said Jonathan Jarvis, the park service's director. WASHINGTON -- Routine commercial use of small drones was cleared for takeoff by the Obama administration Tuesday, after years of struggling to write rules that would both protect public safety and free the benefits of a new technology. The Federal Aviation Administration has created a new category of rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The long-anticipated rules would mean drone operators would be able to fly without special permission. Currently, commercial operators have to apply for a waiver from rules that govern manned aircraft, a process that can be time-consuming and expensive.
Amazon and Google announced two years ago that they are working on drone delivery systems for goods purchased online, and Google officials have said they expect deliveries to begin sometime in 2017. Earlier this year, the Senate passed an aviation bill that would require the FAA to issue regulations within two years to enable drone deliveries. But the FAA's slow pace led frustrated lawmakers to include a provision in a major aviation bill four years ago setting deadlines for the agency to issue regulations to safely integrate small drones into the national airspace by August 2014 and other drones by September 2015. In April, FAA officials said they are working on regulations that would permit small, commercial drones to fly over people and crowd based on recommendations from an industry advisory committee.
For companies that want to use small drones, a new era began Monday. That's when rules kicked in that free them from having to request special permission from the federal government for any commercial drone endeavor -- a waiver process that often took months. Although industry experts say the Federal Aviation Administration's new rules on commercial drones largely make it easier for companies to use the unmanned aerial vehicles, there are still a lot of constraints. Under the new commercial-drone rules, operators must keep their drones within visual line of sight -- that is, the person flying the drone must be able to see it with the naked eye -- and can fly only during the day, though twilight flying is permitted if the drone has anti-collision lights. Drones cannot fly over people who are not directly participating in the operation or go higher than 400 feet above the ground.