On Sunday, Feb. 15, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled its long-anticipated proposal for regulating small commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The proposal indicates that UAVs weighing up to 55 pounds would be allowed to fly within the sight of their operators only during daylight hours, must stay below 500 feet and fly less than 100 mph. Other proposed criteria include that all operators must be at least 17 years of age, be evaluated by the Transportation Security Administration and pass an aeronautics test. However, a certificate would not require flight hours, a pilot’s license or medical training.
The new proposal doesn't apply to hobbyists because a policy has already been released for recreational UAV use. This policy calls for flying below 400 feet, in the sight line of the operator, notifying airports of planned activity within 5 miles of their operation and keeping clear of all other aircraft. The FAA has asked for 60 days of public comment regarding the new proposal, and there is expected contention, especially over the certification requirement. The release of the proposal is seen as a step by the FAA to comply with the Congressional order it has received to integrate UAVs into national airspace by September 2015.
For more information, click here to see the Washington Post's coverage of the proposal.