The regulations are designed to limit the size and speed of drones while restricting where they can be flown. The proposal allows for remote-controlled aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds to fly as fast as 100 mph and as high as 500 feet. The proposed rules wouldn’t allow drones within 5 miles of an airport.
To legally fly a drone, you’ll need to pass an FAA test on aeronautics and a get a Transportation Security Administration background check. And operators will have to keep the aircraft within eyesight — which seems to make the type of drone delivery suggested by Amazon, impossible.
Though the proposed guidelines may seem restrictive, they are designed to open the door for greater commercial use. Right now, the FAA bans commercial drone use except in limited cases where the agency has issued a waiver. Media watchdogs believe the new rules will also allow journalists more freedom to use drones.
Privacy has been big issue of concern with unmanned drone operations. The FAA proposals call for the Commerce Department to work with government agencies, business groups and privacy advocates to develop guidelines. The American Civil Liberties Union calls this an important first step that still requires work.
Even if the White House approves the proposal, the FAA will open it up to public comment. And it expects it will get plenty of comments. As a result, it may be two or three years before the agency is able to issue any final regulations.