Amazon may still have lofty ambitions to one day make deliveries via drones, but if new proposed regulations go into effect, those ambitions may be just pie in the sky.
The Federal Aviation Administration is looking to place restrictions on commercial drones that would be much stricter than most were expecting, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new rules, which would apply to all drones weighing 55 pounds or less, would require operators to have a pilot’s license (which requires dozens of training hours), limit flights to the daytime, and keep drones below an altitude of 400 feet and within the operator’s sight at all times.
Current FAA rules decide on proposed commercial drone uses on a case-by-case basis, but that model isn’t sustainable in the face of the massive interest in unmanned flight. And while the Journal reports that the FAA “wants to open the skies to unmanned commercial flights,” the agency’s current track record of infrequently approving requests combined with these possible new regulations fly in the face of that assertion. “I feel like there’s a colossal mess coming,” Michael Drobac, a drone advocacy executive, told the Journal, adding that the new rules are “so divorced from the technology and the aspirations of this industry…that we’re going to see a loud rejection.”
Those familiar with the FAA say the regulations likely will be announced at the end of this year but may take up to one or two years to finalize and implement. Following a recent court victory, it is also probable the FAA will create regulations for recreational use relatively soon.