What was that? A drone possibly.
We have all heard drone stories about the government using them in surveillance. Even firing missiles at terrorists. But how can companies use them for commercial use?
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) are inherently different from manned aircraft. Introducing UAS into the nation’s airspace is challenging for both the FAA and aviation community, because the U.S. has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world. The FAA is taking an incremental approach to safe UAS integration.
The Federal Aviation Administration just announced a drone program called “Pathfinder,” in which three companies including CNN will test the use of unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes. Yes these three companies can pave the way for all of us.
1. CNN will be researching how visual line-of-sight operations might be used for news gathering in urban areas.
2. PrecisionHawk, a manufacturer, will be surveying crops in rural areas using unmanned aircraft flying outside of the pilot’s direct vision.
3. BNSF Railroad will explore the challenges of using these vehicles to inspect their rail infrastructure beyond visual line-of-sight in isolated areas.
The FAA anticipates receiving valuable data from each of these trials that could result in FAA-approved operations in the next few years.
So what Can I Do with my drone?
There is a new FAA proposal that was to be reviewed by the public. It would allow drones weighing up to 55 pounds to fly within sight of their remote pilots during daylight hours. The aircraft must stay below 500 feet in the air and fly less than 100 mph.
People flying drones would need to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautics test and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration, but a certificate wouldn’t require the flight hours or medical rating of a private pilot’s license.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”
Of course drones can be flown “under the radar” and there are those that will bend the rules. So the next time you see a drone is someone spying on you? Most drones have cameras and video may be recorded. In addition it would not take a great leap in technology for a drone to record conversations if the drone noise can be tuned out. Look for the above proposed rules to be put in place soon. The final rules may be updated because of recent issues including the gyro-copter and drones at the Capitol and White House.