FAA considering accelerated approval for low-risk commerical use of drones

This sounds like good news, but we'll have to see the details to know for sure. From Bloomberg:

U.S. aviation regulators said they are considering a streamlined approval process for flights of small unmanned drones for film making, utilities inspections, farming and other low-risk operations.

With the first regulation allowing commercial drone flights at least a year away, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking at ways to grant approvals for limited applications before then, said Jim Williams, chief of the agency’s unmanned aircraft division. The FAA is already fielding requests, he said in a speech in Orlando, Florida, today.

While such flights aren’t yet permitted, businesses have already been using drones to film sporting events, promote real estate and map land. Industries including agriculture, film making and inspections of utilities and oil and gas facilities have now approached the agency and are considering asking for a formal process for expedited approvals to fly, Williams said.

It expects to propose a rule allowing commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) by November, according to a schedule of rulemaking efforts.

Read the rest here

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Comment by John Dennings on May 16, 2014 at 11:19pm

... "While such flights aren't yet permitted" ...

Keep lying, Mr. Williams.  On tax payer's money no less.

But hey ... this is not bad news overall.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on May 16, 2014 at 11:52pm

Remember he said at sUSb Expo that was going to be in four areas and mentioned that the airframes approved so far (Scaneagle and Puma) were allowed under the military surplus rules, ie they complied with things like STANAG 4586 and that made them OK.

Comment by Harry on May 17, 2014 at 5:33am

At least they recognize that some operations really are low risk.  Flying over rush hour for the local TV station isn't my idea of low risk, flying over some grapes is.

Comment by Dwgsparky on May 17, 2014 at 6:46am
This high limit and this type of operation will simply allow the big company's to get 2 yrs ahead of the little guys in terms of exposure and market share, crazy.
So it's ok for 50# plane to bump into a 747 but not 3# foam wing at 400ft
You guys need new law makers!
Comment by Patrick Egan on May 17, 2014 at 7:46am

If they use the ASTM standards it will be very hard for anyone but DoD manufacturers to comply. 

Comment by Craig Bussel on May 17, 2014 at 8:24am

Yeah Patrick, and from the sound of it, that is exactly what they plan on doing, ohe well, once a pirate always a pirate

Comment by Oliver on May 17, 2014 at 9:25am

This is far from good news. It is another step in the attempt by this corrupt, captive bureaucracy to eradicate any even remotely commercial use by anyone who doesn't buy and maintain their aircraft from a DoD-class manufacturer. As soon as it's in place they'll have something on the books that 99% of current non-recreational UAV pilots will be violating, and they'll be looking to call it "game over." 

This is their primary function, boys and girls, to make sure money flows in the right direction and to slam the door on everyone but their corporate pals. It always has been, and it's why you and I can't afford a Cessna. That's why all their babbling and posturing is anchored in talk of commercial vs non-commercial, rather than in, say, terms of demonstrable safety differences between different types of uses.  It's exactly the same as suddenly telling earth-bound photographers that they cannot sell photos unless they are taken using, say, an $18000 Canon lens, and makes exactly the same amount of sense.

The 55 pound nonsense is there so they can bleat about their phoney safety concerns, never mind that they are loading a 4 pound and even a 4 ounce quad onto the same tired old donkey. These people need to be put to useful work somewhere, for example as greeters at Walmart.

Meanwhile on the development side we need to push for smaller and smaller but more and more capable quads. Aerial thrashing machines such as most of us now fly and that are pictured in every negative "drone" news story need to be replaced by super-high performance (in terms of stability/control) palm-sized aircraft that are about as threatening and dangerous as hummingbirds.


Comment by Pedals2Paddles on May 17, 2014 at 9:37am

Unfortunately the only winners in this will be whatever politician gets the most campaign contributions from whatever lobbying group wishes to purchases his vote the most.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 17, 2014 at 9:49am

Although Agriculture and the (closed set) giant studios and the public utilities will perhaps benefit from this (if they don't make the compliance issue a complete boondoggle), where does that leave the bulk of the real public need - nowwhere.

We really need to be able to have rules that stress individual responsibility over Draconian regulations so that competent journalists, documentarians, reporters, advertising agencies, search and rescue operations and civil groups can be using these for what they do best photos and videos.

You don't make this work by requiring people to buy unaffordable equipment from military contractors and requiring them to become fully trained pilots.

You make it work by making it clear to them what there responsibilities are and what they need to know in order to operate responsibly. 

It isn't the quality of the equipment or the capability of the individuals that create the problem, it is their judgement and their understanding of what is required of them to operate safely and legally.

And you can never force them to do that, all you can do is let them know what will happen to them if they don't.

From all accounts, the FAA is using scare tactics (The Australian marathon runner) using the remarkably few incidents to illustrate the huge danger presented.

What is remarkable aren't the incidents, but rather how few of even the tiniest significance and how little actual damage has been caused.

And even if this is a new technology, eventually an acceptance of "acceptable risk" will have to be entertained.

There are always risks and dangers, but you never get anywhere by demanding that they be zero.

What we have right now is silliness by a repressive and Draconian federal agency who itself thinks it is above the law.

The only legal confrontation we have had so far has said the agency had no legal basis for its actions and yet the agency is still claiming that because it was stayed that they are in the right and their actions are legal.

So let me follow that logic.

Agency - issues one ruling - it loses in court with the finding that it had no legal basis and yet the agency still claims it was legal and that failing to follow them is illegal.

What nonesense, one ruling - one court case one finding that it had no legal basis.

At this point, the FAA is zero for 1 and the actual outcome is that at this time there is absolutely no legal evidence at all that what the FAA is saying is legal is correct, in fact quite the opposite.

Basically they are lying to the public by saying that that to break their guidelines is illegal.

It is Big Brother double speak and completely Orwellian in fomenting the fear of the masses so they can be properly controlled by their betters.

Comment by Pedals2Paddles on May 17, 2014 at 9:54am

Unfortunately telling people to be responsible for their own actions is not good for politicians wallets or their political party's motives.


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