FAA offers framework to legalize commercial — but not delivery — drones

Ben Fox Rubin for CNET.com  15 Feb 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration took an important step Sunday toward legalizing and regulating routine use of commercial drones — though don’t expect a delivery drone to bring you a fresh pizza anytime soon.

The agency released its proposed requirements for unmanned commercial aircraft, saying the drones must weigh less than 55 pounds and be operated in daylight within the line of sight of the drone’s operator. Additionally, the drones must fly under 500 feet, no faster than 100 miles per hour, and away from manned aircraft. They must never fly over people except those directly involved with the flight.

The FAA for now doesn’t allow for regular use of commercial drones, so Hollywood studios and others have needed to gain special waivers to use the devices today. While the new rules provide for broad use of drones to shoot TV shows or movies, survey agricultural land or inspect a bridge, they nix the potential use of delivery drones, like those being developed by Amazon and Google, an FAA representative confirmed. However, the rules are still subject to change before being finalized.

In response, Amazon released a statement Sunday, saying it’s not giving up on its goals for its “Prime Air” drone-delivery service.  Read more here.

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