Disaster Zone

New Rules Coming for Drone Operators

This reflects progress and allows for enhanced usage of the technology

by Eric Holdeman / March 11, 2018

See these notes shared by Jennifer Grosman:


HAVE A FEW TIERS: The FAA is planning a four-tiered approach to remote drone identification and tracking, outlined at a drone conference this week. Small drones flown in pre-approved sites wouldn't need any special equipment, while all other models would, either on the ground or on the drone itself, to broadcast its identification or location. It's a potential solution to concerns raised by law enforcement about drones being flown where they shouldn't be, innocently or otherwise. A White House official also announced this week that they're working on legislation allowing DHS and law enforcement agencies to take down drones on their own if they pose a threat.

No soup for you: The hope is that this approach will satisfy both recreational users, who point to a "model aircraft" exemption in drone law, and commercial drone operators who want everyone obeying the same rules of the road. That exemption may not be long for this world: Both acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell and a staffer from the Senate Commerce Committee mentioned at the conference that they hope to "revisit" it in the pending FAA reauthorization bill, S. 1405 (115).

Step up: In a video message to the conference Thursday, Chao called the response to the drone integration pilot program, which has attracted 149 applications, "especially gratifying." She said the department is on track to announce the first 10 participants in May. The program allows cities and states to loosen drone laws on their own. Chao also urged the audience to "step up and help educate the public about the benefits of this new technology and to address legitimate public concerns."

PAYING THEIR WAY: The Drone Advisory Committee is meeting today to discuss, among other things, how to fund the FAA's work. Drones don't pay fees to the agency like manned aircraft do, but they're taking up an increasingly large share of its bandwidth.