back to article FAA speeds up drone flight approvals for firms that don't need them

The Federal Aviation Administration has established an interim policy designed to "speed up" authorisations for certain commercial drone operators. The FAA has offered blanket authorisation for unmanned aircraft flights under 200 feet. These, however, will only apply to certain commercial unmanned aircraft (UAS) operators who …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drones should be very limited

    We certainly don't need or want a lot of drones flying around to cause both aviation and populace issues. Drones should be very limited in where and when they can be used and by whom. I don't see drones as viable delivery service vehicles contrary to what some folks might believe or promote.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Drones should be very limited

      "We certainly don't need or want a lot of drones flying around to cause both aviation and populace issues."

      Oh, They're coming. The biggest industry in The US will lobby like Hell, and then...

      At the vending machines outside a gas station:

      "{Bzzz} Hi! I see you're about to purchase a beverage. I'd recommend a Nice Refreshing Sparkle soda -The Soda with Style!

      At the bus stop:

      "{Bzzz} Hello commuters. Just a reminder that Rancor Motors is offering a sale on the fuel efficient, stylish 2023 Electron - The World's smartest Smart Car! If you owned one, you'd already be at your destination! Buy now, get Easy terms, and no money down!"

      Just out walking:

      "{Bzzz} Tired of your current wardrobe? Snooty's High fashion Apparel is on sale at Vlecks, just two blocks away!"

      "{Bzzz} Snooty's is sooo twenty teens! Be fashionable and comfortable in a new Kanor Wardrobe, for sell at all Titor department stores, Take a left at the corner for the closest one!"

      "{Bzzz} Bah, forget those clothes horse fad rags, Denton's store has comfortable, affordable clothing in styles that never go out of fashion! Just go back two..."

      {Bzzz} {Bzzz} {Bzzz} {Bzz..."

      At the accident scene:

      "Bzzz" Don't worry, emergency services have been called, Thanks to Dight, Dighter, and Dightest, Office of Reliable Liability Lawyers. When you're ready to sue, call Dight, Dighter, and Dightest!"

      I fear for the future.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking forward to the first lawsuit...

    ... when one of these UAVs hits someone.

  3. Duncan Macdonald

    Still sufficient for many inspection jobs

    200 ft limit still allows inspection of most roofs, transmission towers and also allows easy crop inspection for farmers.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    When a drone's a model....

    The restrictions are the same as we fly model aircraft under in the US (well, about that 200 feet height limit ... its very difficult to tell exactly how high your plane is...). So what they're doing is declaring their lack of interest in the gizmo bought from the hobby shop while reserving the right to keep things that might fly in real airspace on a short leash. The hobby ones are still useful -- 200'/line of sight covers a lot of everyday inspection and survey jobs.

    The FAA are actually quite a pragmatic organization for a large Federal bureaucracy. They understand the limits of government power so try to keep their reach within what's both practical and enforceable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When a drone's a model....

      I'm sure Georgia Power would love to replace their helicopter inspections of high-tension lines with two guys in a truck with 6 drones (so they can spend 8 hours flying without having to wait for battery packs to recharge).

      It will also make it quieter. Having a helicopter hover for 10 minutes less 100ft from the house is RATHER LOUD.

    2. Johndoe888

      Re: When a drone's a model....

      Over here on our side of the pond there is no height limit for models below 7kg in weight.

      Above 7kg it's 400 feet.

      1. ExSunDE

        Re: When a drone's a model....

        WOW! Unlimited altitude under 7 kg?

        Suppose I am flying at 160 knots and a 6 kg drone hits my windshield - I'm dead.

        There is no currently deployed technology capable of protecting manned aircraft from drones. You can't see them until it's too late.

        Thanks, FAA, for being cautious about allowing drones in our airspace. Birds are hazard enough as it is.

  5. keith_w

    Visual Line of Sight

    What is a Visual line of sight, as compared to non-visual line of sight?

    1. Justicesays

      Re: Visual Line of Sight

      I guess it's some kind of definition of actually being there and looking at it with the mk1 eyeball.

      As opposed to , say, flying two drones in tandem with camera's pointed at each other. Or a selfie stick on the one drone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Visual Line of Sight

      Drone operation is either VLOS ("Visual Line of Sight") or BLOS ("Beyond Line of Sight"). Typically you need multiple communications systems to operate in BLOS mode (e.g. long-range UHF coupled with satellite communications). At the moment no aviation authority allows small-drone BLOS operation, although the CAA is working on the rules.

  6. Whitter

    Line of sight

    This restriction does rather impact on roof inspections and the like.

    But what is "Line of sight"? Does that account for mirrors/lenses/remote screens?

    i.e. Could one use two drones (and two pilots); one drone you can see watching one you can't?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Line of sight

      Line of Sight flight rules

      The pilot of the aircraft must be able to see the aircraft being flown unaided (except by prescription glasses where required) at all times.

      fairly simple, you have to be able to see what you are flying directly with your eyes.

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    What is this raccoon flight of which El Reg speaks?

    1. Swarthy

      Indeed! I was under the impression that the LOHAN flight was a ballocket.

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