On June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) released its much-awaited operational rules for drones. We have been tracking these rules for the last year. The biggest change from the proposed rules to final rules is that the final rules eliminate the need for commercial drone operators to obtain a manned aircraft pilot's license. Instead, drone operators will have to pass a knowledge test for unmanned aircraft. The test will be administered at FAA approved testing centers nationwide.
Otherwise, the final rules track the proposed rules in many respects. Drones must weigh less than 55 lbs and operate at speeds less than 100 mph. Furthermore, flights are still limited to daytime hours, operators must still maintain a visual line of sight, and drones cannot fly over people who are not participating in the drone’s operation.
The rules take effect in late August. We will continue to follow the new rules and provide updates as the new rules are implemented.