I’m a drone owner. I have been studying, practicing with it and learning the ins and outs of aerial photography from an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.) It has been expensive with no real idea of when it might become commercially viable. Today it has. The FAA (Federal Avation Administration) has proposed new rules that allow the commercial use of drones.
Note: Like all things governmental, there will be an approval timeline for the rules to fully roll out and be implemented.
The restrictions include that the drone must weigh less than 55 pounds (a Phantom 2 with camera is less than three,) pilots will have to maintain a visual line of sight of the craft or work with an observer who will keep it in view. The speed restriction is one hundred miles and hour. Altitude is restricted to under five hundred feet. That’s one hundred more than allowed under the hobbiest guidelines currently in force for drones. Drones will have to be registered with the FAA. Overflights of people are prohibited. Overall visibility has to be over three miles.
There will be licensing. Pilots will have to demonstrate knowledge of flying a drone, the rules and so forth by passing a written test. Actual flying skill will not be considered at this time. The new drone operator license will have to be renewed every twenty-four months. License holders must be at least 17 years old. They will also have to be vetted by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration.)
The really good news…
The FAA will not require drone pilots to get a private (pricey) or commercial (outrageously expensive) pilot’s license nor will they have to pass a medical exam.
It is heartening that the FAA recognizes the value that drones bring in a commercial setting. Their ruling allows photographers like myself to add new services in a very competitive world. My sincere hope is that drone pilots like myself, will be very conscientious in following the new rules. By doing so we can enjoy creative freedoms while getting paid in the pursuit.