The FAA will soon release new rules on the use of drones in the US, and they might be more restrictive than the current ones, potentially making the use of a flying robot much more difficult. Drone pilots will need a license, will only be able to fly during the day, and can only operate below 400 feet, and in the operator’s line of sight, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Monday. The FAA is reportedly also going to group all unmanned aerial vehicles under these rules, meaning that flying a small toy drone will be subject to the same restrictive rules as flying a bigger commercial one.
Highly anticipated federal rules on commercial drones are expected to require operators to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls, according to people familiar with the rule-making process. The drone industry has awaited commercial rules for about six years, hoping the rules would pave the way for widespread drone use in industries such as farming, filmmaking and construction. Current FAA policy allows recreational drone flights in the U.S. but essentially bars drones from commercial use. While the FAA wants to open the skies to unmanned commercial flights, the expected rules are more restrictive than drone supporters sought and wouldn’t address privacy concerns over the use of drones, people familiar with the matter said. The agency also plans to group all drones weighing less than 55 pounds under one set of rules. That would dash hopes for looser rules on the smallest drones, such as the 2.8-pound Phantom line of camera-equipped, four-rotor helicopters made by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co. Similar-sized devices are seen as the most commercially viable drones and have surged in popularity in the last two years.