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FAA releases first rules for commercial drones

The Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation have finalized the first operational rules for commercial drones, opening the door for the unmanned aircraft to be used for disaster relief, to perform certain jobs, and to gather information in areas that might be difficult to navigate by foot.

The new rule book takes effect in late August and includes safety regulations for unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds that are being flown for commercial purposes (the rules don’t apply to hobbyists). Rules require the pilot to keep the drone in their line of sight, only fly during daylight and twilight hours (only if the drone has collision lights), and make height and speed restrictions for drone flights.

“With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA’s mission to protect public safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”EP