FAA issues final rule on commercial use of drones

The rule covers commercial uses for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds, and it takes effect Aug. 29.

July 13, 2016 |
FAA issues final rule on commercial use of drones

Photo: Paul Cooper/Creative Commons.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a final rule on the operation and certification of non-hobbyist drones. 

The rule covers commercial uses for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds, and it takes effect Aug. 29. 

Operational limitations include:

  • Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only 
  • Drone must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer.
  • Drone must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
  • Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle.
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure.
  • No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
  • The final rule includes the option to apply for a certificate of waiver on some of the operational limitations if the proposed operation can be performed safely.  An online portal will be made available by the FAA to apply for such waivers.
Overlay Init