Part 107 is out, which means that any drone operator can legally make money in drones without the onerous restrictions of getting a manned pilot’s license, applying for a Section 333 and waiting for it to be approved.
Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration finalized the first operational rules for commercial use of drones.
“We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world.”
Here are some of the requirements for pilot’s wanting to fly a drone commercially:
- Operator must hold a remote pilot airman certificate or be under supervision of someone who does
- To get that certificate, operator must pass an inperson test or if the operator holds a pilot certificate, must complete a training course online
- Report incidents causing injury or damage greater than $500
- Ensure the drone complies with existing registration requirements
Still there are limitations. Here are some of the standout ones:
- Aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs
- Visual line-of-sight only
- No flying over people
- Daylight-only operations
- Maximum groundspped of 100 mph
- Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level
The rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years, according to industry estimates.
“This is a step in the right direction for the FAA,” said Logan Campbell, founder of drone consulting firm Aerotas. “A number of industries can benefit from these rules the instant they go into effect, such as surveying, real estate photography, constructing or cell tower inspection.”
Previously, commercial drone use was illegal unless businesses received a Section 333 exemption from the FAA, which was a complicated and lengthy process that required operators to have a manned pilot’s license. Since 2014 the FAA has granted more than 6,100 of those exemptions, and another 7,600 are waiting for approval.
In its latest announcement, called Part 107, those restrictions are eased.
“It’s a good first step and a good early precedent for what a balanced approach looks like,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs. “But there is still a lot of work to be done on other types of operations and other categories.”