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FAA preparing strict drone regulations for US?

The future of drones has been a thorny subject ever since the first quad copters started buzzing around, and Amazon revealed its Prime Air drone delivery scheme.

Officials in the US haven’t been able to pin any regulations on drone usage thus far, leading to a raft of questions on how exactly these craft will be legislated when they become more prevalent. Obviously drones can pose a danger to normal aircraft, particularly the bigger sort of fixed wing drones.

There’s some movement in the US now, though, and the latest news we’ve heard from CNN is that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is about to reveal some proposed regulations which will cover the flying of small drones that are used for business purposes.

And the news isn’t good for those who want to use drones for any sort of commercial purpose, like Amazon, as the FAA is reportedly going to take a strict line – to the point where you might even need a pilot’s license to fly one.

That seems pretty Draconian, and as Jesse Kallman of drone software developer Airware told CNN: “How you operate a 737 is pretty different from how you operate an unmanned aircraft.”

Other rules set to come into force will limit drones weighing under 25kg to daytime flying only at less than 400 feet, with the craft to always be in view of the operator. Automated flights going to out-of-sight destinations would be out in that case.

Remember that these are rules for businesses, who currently can’t use drones at all over in the US, not without special permission (they’re perfectly legal for personal use, though – right now, that is).

Can we expect similar legislation to come into force in the UK? We certainly wouldn’t think that a pilot’s license would be a requirement over here, but there could well be similar daytime only usage limits.

Amazon is getting ready to test its Prime Air drones this side of the pond in Cambridge, so the Civil Aviation Authority will have to make a call on that, although as we recently reported, Terry Holloway, the MD of the Cambridge Aero Club, called the whole idea “barking mad”.

Holloway noted: “From a legislative point of view the Civil Aviation Authority rules as they currently exist means it’s just totally unfeasible to even consider doing this.”

“Maybe the CAA will relax the rules, but then that begs all sorts of questions from the everyday man on the street. I have real concerns about how they will deliver parcels safely…”