New FAA Drone Rules to Have Limited Impact on Business Users

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-12-14 Print this article Print
FAA Drone Rules

It's worth noting that the flight rules for commercial drones also are similar to those for private users, including the fact that they can't fly higher than 400 feet, must be flown within sight of the operator and that various no-fly restrictions must be honored. In addition, commercial drone operators are required to have a pilot's license.

The reason for the added requirements for commercial drones are fairly obvious, considering the level of complexity required for some commercial drone operations. "Imagine being able to move a defibrillator faster than ever," said Hulsey Smith, Chairman and CEO of Aero Kinetics, explaining how drones can save lives.

"Or imagine construction workers not having to climb ladders to inspect a roof after a hail storm, or to do tower inspections or to inspect bridges, cranes or wind turbines. Imagine not having to ask someone to do those things and not having to be in harm's way," Smith said.

Aero Dynamics manufactures commercial drones that typically weigh under 55 pounds. The company was the first to apply for type-acceptance of such devices and follows the commercial registration rules already in place. Smith said that while many companies are using consumer and hobby drones for commercial work, such a choice can be extremely dangerous.

However just because it's a bad idea, that doesn't mean that some companies won't do it. In fact, consumer drones are routinely used by some companies to inspect cell towers, construction sites, mining sites and wind turbines, among other uses. While there's probably no way for you to know for sure whether the drone that a contractor is planning to use when performing work for you is registered for commercial use, there has to be a registration number of every drone you're likely to see, which means you should ask to see it.

Unfortunately, the new drone registration rules aren't necessarily going to make you safer or your job easier and even if everyone follows the law, it won't have an immediate impact on your business. But it will give you a way to find out if the drone someone is planning to use at your site meets at least some minimal requirements.

In addition, the new drone registration rules give you a good idea of what to expect for the soon-to-be announced commercial registration rules. However, at this point commercial registration requires the submission of a paper form and a request for exemption from existing drone rules. Once the commercial rules are published, at least it will be easier and faster, as long as your drone meets the new requirements.


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