U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao implemented a directive signed by President Trump, and the resulting program will hopefully be used to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and to realize the benefits of unmanned technology in our economy.
It wasn’t too long ago that the US finalized it drones laws. While not exactly the most supportive of new drone businesses, they were defined. Now, the rules seem to be in flux again.
Flying a drone in the U.S. is tricky. Thanks to regulations passed two years ago there are a number of new rules that all drone pilots have to abide by. These include flying below a certain altitude, flying away from airports and military bases, and having a line of sight to the drone at all times. While these regulations do make sense for hobbyists, they make it hard for companies like Amazon to get their drone delivery businesses off the ground.
While those regulations aren’t going away anytime soon, the government is beginning the process to make it easier for companies to circumvent them. Just last week, President Trump signed a memo to the Department of Transportation, directing them to begin the process of developing rules to allow commercial drone operators to fly more freely in the U.S.
The question is open. In the end, will this be a good thing or a bad thing? If you believe the White House, then it sounds like a positive.
Whatever Americans think about drones filling the big blue skies of these United States, the president is jazzed about the idea of increasing air traffic—and he’s working to make it happen. On Wednesday, Donald Trump signed a memo directing the Department of Transportation to create a plan to make it easier to fly a drone for commercial purposes in US airspace.
The official fact sheet, from the FAA, is available here.
These changes could excite a lot of companies, and with good reason.
This new initiative will likely excite companies such as Amazon and 7-Eleven, but this is bigger than getting a quick delivery of Soylent or Slurpees. Drones—officially known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—have shown their worth in farming, insurance, oil and gas inspections, and aerial photography. They take on tasks that are time-consuming and even dangerous for humans, like when they were used to aid search and rescue efforts during Houston’s Hurricane Harvey. “Drones are proving to be especially valuable in emergency situations, including assessing damage from natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes and the wildfires in California,” secretary of transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement. They also could provide a notable economic infusion by creating up to 100,000 new jobs and adding $82 million to the US economy by 2025, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which lobbies for quadcopters and their ilk.
To be clear, I have some concern. My concern isn’t with the concept, but rather the application. This new Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program will ask state, local, and tribal authorities for their input on how to craft rules for drones that please everyone— from city authorities to professional drone pilots to private citizens. Logically there is some sense, they are all stakeholders who want a say in what happens in, or over, their backyards. However, this could easily lead to a confusing patchwork of rules.
Regardless, our industry receiving more attention is a good thing. It will translate into investment, innovation and new job opportunities for commercially trained drone operators; be prepared by passing your FAA Part 107. We offer FAA Part 107 training and we even guarantee you’ll pass*. If you’d like to take thenext step and and start a new career as a drone operator, then click here to register today.
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