US Government regulations update

Hello all,

I wanted to make a post to keep you abreast of the current government regulations and the changes we will be seeing over the next few years. Currently, the regulatory climate in the US is quite hostile to the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. In general, the regulations are as follows:

  • No commercial use is allowed without special exemption from the FAA, which is very difficult to obtain
  • Permitted operations must remain within unaided line-of-sight of the pilot and under 400 ft AGL
  • Commercial users must apply for specific authorization for each geographic area in which they want to fly

Fortunately, the FAA is working (slowly) to produce sensible regulations regarding the use of unmanned aircraft in US airspace. Within the next 1-2 years we expect to see the following regulations in place:

  • Commercial use of small unmanned aircraft (under 55 lbs) will be routinely permitted
  • Pilots will be required to pass a knowledge test and be licensed by the FAA
  • Operation will still be limited to unaided line-of-sight and below 400 ft AGL
  • Operations will not be limited geographically, except for areas in already-restricted airspace

These proposed regulations will provide a great deal more flexibility to commercial operators, but will still severely limit the development of more advanced aircraft capable of safe beyond-line-of-sight operation and many mapping and surveying applications.