Expect heavy FAA drone regulations

DroneBy year’s end, the Federal Aviation Administration will unveil proposed rules that apply to anyone flying a small drone that’s even remotely for business purposes.

The FAA is leaning toward strict oversight, according to several people in the drone business who have met with the FAA to discuss regulations.

Among the expected rules for any drone under 55 pounds: only daytime flying, within physical view of the operator, and below 400 feet.

Such rules would be tough on the drone industry. They increase the cost of using a drone, limit its geographical range, and lump together heavy, fixed-wing drones with the tiny quadcopters you sometimes see buzzing around on college campuses.

Jesse Kallman, who leads business development at drone software startup Airware, explained that the pilot’s license requirement would be perceived as an unreasonable challenge.

“How you operate a 737 is pretty different from how you operate an unmanned aircraft,” Kallman said.
The FAA declined to share a copy of the draft regulation. But an agency spokeswoman said, “We expect the rule to make a start toward expanded commercial use of [unmanned aircraft].”