Drone owners and hobbyists can rejoice! A new set of regulations approved by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration will remove a few previously existing restrictions on how people can fly their drones.
What’s in the New Rules?
The new regulations, which are set to officially go into effect in January, allow drone pilots to both fly their drones above people and during the night, provided that certain conditions are met. Previously, neither of these things were allowed.
To be able to legally fly drones over people, pilots must use drones that “contain no exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin,” according to the FAA’s new rules. To fly at night, drones must be uncrewed and must have anti-collision lights that are easily visible at a distance of at least 3 statute miles.
Since these new rules are almost certain to increase the total number of drones being flown through U.S. airspace, the FAA has also required that all drones be equipped with a remote ID. This is a relatively new technology that will allow each drone’s location, control station, and specific ID to be broadcast to the FAA, allowing it to keep tabs on all drones.
Who Is Most Pleased by This?
Given the vast increase in home deliveries caused by the stay-at-home orders that have been issued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that the new rules have something to do with enabling Amazon and other companies to more easily cope with carrying out a large volume of deliveries. However, the new rules will also grant greater leeway to individuals who just like flying drones for fun.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted that drone delivery would be far more widespread than it currently is. Since the FAA has been slow to change its rules, the new regulations likely come as a welcome change to companies like Amazon.
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns. They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
All drone operators will be required to have their remote pilot certificates on their persons at all times.
Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin creating machines with remote ID, and pilots will have another year to start using drones that have the technology.