Drone delivery one step closer to reality with new FAA rules

For the first time, the FAA will allow small commercial drones to fly short distances over people and at night without waiver. Small drones are also allowed to fly over moving vehicles under limited conditions.

In a change from an earlier proposed draft of the rules, drone operators must also Keep your remote pilot certificates with you and be able to view them when the authorities ask you to.

The rules apply to drone operators who use their unmanned aircraft for work or business in accordance with the provisions of Part 107 of the FAA. Up to 1.7 million drones have been registered with the FAA, as well as more than 203,000 drone pilots, the agency said.

“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety concerns,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “They bring us closer to the day we will see routine drone operations like parcel delivery.”

The agency announced that it has filed the rule changes in the federal register and expects to be published in January. The new regulations come into effect 60 days after publication.

The new rules are a significant step forward for the US government towards a future of commercial drone shipments, a vision Amazon outlined back in 2013. Since then, the FAA’s development of drone regulations has advanced, causing critics to fear that other countries could gain a critical first-mover advantage in the drone trade.

Industry officials said there are still many steps to go before drone delivery can become mainstream in the U.S. – for example, opening rules to allow routine drone flights out of an operator’s line of sight.

These types of “advanced operations” are critical to fully realizing the promise of [drone] Technology to achieve myriad economic and social benefits, “said the Small UAV Coalition, an industry advocacy group.

Still, the changes could give a boost to companies that have all studied shipping goods by unmanned aerial vehicle.

Last year, UPS and Wing – a sister company of Google – became the first to receive FAA approval to operate a drone airline. In August, Amazon received the same certificate of approval. Amazon’s goal is to complete drone delivery within 30 minutes or less of placing the order. Under the new FAA rules, small drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights and other technology in order to be able to remotely identify the aircraft and its operators. This emerges from an FAA leaflet.

Pilots no longer have to undergo a personal training test every two years. Instead, they can complete the test online.

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