FAA Reportedly Has Plans to Adjust Commercial Drone Policy

With a few exceptions, the use of commercial drones in the U.S. remains an illegal practice. Of more than 750 requests, the Federal Aviation Administration has exempted only 48 companies from the nationwide ban. For those exempted, the use of drones is often delayed by a policy that requires companies to receive government approval before using a drone on every new project. This policy may soon cease to exist, as sources report the FAA has planned to waive the policy for some time now.

“The change in policy could be a positive signal to a wide swath of companies that are pushing for federal regulators to remove barriers to commercial uses of automated aircraft, and help foster growth of an emerging sector of manufacturers and service providers built around drone technology,” reports Reuters.


For those already exempted from the ban such as Chevron, Berkshire Hathaway’s BNSF Railway Co. and some media companies, eliminating the policy would allow these companies to fully experiment and test commercial drones on any given amount of projects. “Those companies could get more flexibility to use pilotless aircraft for rail and pipeline inspections, crop surveys and aerial photography for commercials or movies,” Reuters explains.

The current policy requires companies to receive a certificate of authority before every use of a drone. The process includes a two-page document outlying the in-air specifics of the drone’s flight duration and time and place of usage. In one extreme example cited by Reuters, one company “sought permission to fly over an area of land, but the FAA ‘wanted [them] to apply for every farm individually.'”

While the FAA is considering changes, the reality of removing the ban on commercial drone usage entirely does not seem to be an immediate possibility.

Amazon Says FAA Approval to Test Delivery Drones Already Obsolete, The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/15

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