FAA unveils proposed rules for small drones

Over the weekend, the agency released its proposed framework for how nonrecreational drones will integrate into the national airspace.

After months of delays, the Federal Aviation Administration pushed out its framework of regulations for how it plans to integrate nonrecreational small unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace Sunday.

The new proposed rules come after states like Virginia, Oklahoma and, most recently, Florida looked at passing their own laws governing drones.

“As UAS are integrated into the NAS, the Federal Government will take steps to ensure that the integration takes into account not only our economic competitiveness and public safety, but also the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties concerns these systems may raise,” Obama said in a memorandum to agencies that accompanied the proposed rules.

The proposed rules offer safety regulations for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. According to the rule, UAS operators would be required to:

  • Operate their craft within their line of sight and only during the daylight hours.
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge test every two years.
  • Obtain an FAA authorization certificate.
  • Fly no faster than 100 miles per hour.
  • Fly no higher than 500 feet.
  • Stay out of any airport flight paths.

“Today’s proposed rule is a big step forward in outlining the framework” for UAS integration, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said on a Sunday press call. “This proposed rule offers a very flexible framework, while also accommodating future innovation in the industry.”

The notice of proposed rulemaking is not yet a rule — in fact, it must go through several more stages before its official roll out. The first stage is a posting on, which will open the rules up for a 60-day public comment period that starts 60 days from when the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Until the rule is established, drone users must adhere to the previous criteria, which require nonrecreational operators to apply for an exemption or a certificate of authorization with the FAA. The agency has already released more than two dozen commercial exemptions for UAS operations, according to Huerta.

The FAA’s drone rules are scheduled to be put in place by the end of 2015, according to the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reauthorization Act. However, the FAA’s inspector general has said that the agency will miss that deadline.


Read more at FedScoop.

Jake Williams

Written by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is a Staff Reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop. At StateScoop, he covers the information technology issues and events at state and local governments across the nation. In the past, he has covered the United States Postal Service, the White House, Congress, cabinet-level departments and emerging technologies in the unmanned aircraft systems field for FedScoop. Before FedScoop, Jake was a contributing writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has had work published in the Huffington Post and several regional newspapers and websites in Pennsylvania. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, Jake graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. At IUP, Jake was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Penn, and the president of the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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