Flying drones at night might soon be easier. (Greg Clarke)
The public comment period closed this week on the FAA's proposed rule change to allow more flying drones at night and over people.
"The preliminary tally for public comments is 1,821 for the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and 899 for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," the FAA told Avionics International. "We have to review, analyze and develop responses to the NPRM comments and include our responses in the final rule. In the case of the ANPRM, the comments may help us develop additional proposed rules."
The ANPRM was a general request for public comment on whether or what new operational limitations the agency should consider for drones, such as "stand-off distances, additional operating and performance restrictions, the use of UAS Traffic Management (UTM), and additional payload restrictions."
The lengthy NPRM details the FAA's plans regarding night flying and flights over people. To wit, the agency proposes certifying drone pilots, with online recertification every two years, and allowing those operators to routinely conduct flights over people and at night without the need for specific waivers. Removal of the waiver process for two of the most-approved Part 107 operations could save money, increase efficiency and allow the FAA to more quickly get to other applications.
According to an FAA representative, there is no firm timeline on getting to the next step of the process — it just depends on the content of the comments and how long it takes to go through and account for them.