Tech

Operating A Drone For Profit Is Illegal Unless You Satisfy Tons Of Govt Rules

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new rules on commercial drone use go into effect Monday and will criminalize many different uses of the groundbreaking technology.

The government agency released the “operational limitations” at the end of June, but they weren’t scheduled to be fully implemented and enforced until this Monday. (RELATED: The FAA Is Fining A Man $55,000 For Flying His Drone)

According to the guidelines, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones:

-Must weigh less than 55 pounds

-Must be operated within the visual line-of-sight of the pilot

-Must be operated during daylight

-Cannot fly at an altitude of 400 feet above ground level

-Cannot operate within 400 feet of a structure

-Cannot operate over people “not under a covered structure”

While part of the rules provide some clarity to the once dubious legality of this advanced technology, many business leaders are not too pleased with these restrictions.

“This is a step in the right direction for the FAA. A number of industries can benefit from these rules the instant they go into effect, such as surveying, real estate photography, constructing, or cell tower inspection,” Logan Campbell, CEO of Aerotas, a UAS designing and manufacturing company, told the Verge. “The big one though, delivery, is definitely getting left out in the cold with these rules.”

Companies fear that requiring the pilot to have direct eye contact with the UAS largely defeats the purpose of using drones for delivery services. Restricting flights at night also hampers the shipping industry’s use of drones and it is not exactly clear how a drone can legally operate at all if it is forbidden to fly over people. (RELATED: Regulations Force Amazon To Take New Technology To Europe)

That is likely the reason why FAA officials said they went back to the drawing board just minutes after they announced the start of the law.

The FAA came out with restrictive regulations regarding the recreational use of drone prior to last year’s holiday seasons.

The FAA estimates that the combined total of UAS sales (both hobbyist and commercial) will rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International published a report predicting that in “the first three years of integration” more than 70,000 jobs will be produced while also yielding a $13.6 billion “economic impact” for the U.S.

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