The FAA's anticipated new rules on commercial drones reveal several changes to the originally proposed provisions, including ones concerning pilot age and max flight altitude, according to a drone lawyer who claims to have leaked the document.
The official release of the new Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) is expected as soon as Tuesday.
The agency initially proposed in February last year draft rules that would allow commercial drones to operate under particular restrictions, such as a maximum weight of 55 lb and a flight altitude of 500 ft agl.
Peter Sachs, a drone lawyer and writer for www.dronelawjournal.com, reportedly obtained a copy of the May 2016 version of the FAA's "Summary of Major Provisions Under 14 CFR 107," (as the new FAR is formally known). According to Sachs, those provisions now call for a remote pilot in command to be at least 16 years old and flight to be limited to a maximum altitude of 400 ft agl. Drone pilots also would have to have the ability to read, speak, write and understand English, and current Part 61 manned aircraft certificate holders would have to take an online test for certification.
This new rule, according to Forbes, will "eliminate many of the most cumbersome and expensive requirements currently imposed on commercial drone operators." These requirements include the 333 exemption, a manned aircraft pilot's license, a visual observer, a certificate of authorization and notifying airmen before each flight.
The FAA in May said it appointed an Intel Corp. executive to lead a new drone advisory group, tasked with advising the agency on integrating drones into civil airspace. Three other FAA-led groups set up in the past year addressed integrating micro UAS into national airspace, exploring the safety of drones and registering such aircraft.
Photo by Mark Colborn