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Prepare for Take-Off: The FAA Finally Lays Out Rules for Drones

Posted on Feb 19, 2015 by in SPOTLIGHT | 0 comments

After four years of delays, the Federal Aviation Administration has finally unveiled a set of rules for “Unmanned Aerial Systems,” popularly known as drones — and, considering it has taken them this long, the regulations are surprisingly lenient.

Key restrictions included a maximum altitude of 500 feet, a maximum weight of 55 lbs, and a top speed of 100 mph. Additionally drone operators must be at least 17 years old, and will be required to pass a written exam on airspace regulations every two years in order to stay aloft (so to speak).

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All told, the new rules are favorable to drone enthusiasts, who feared much tighter restrictions in light of the inherent risks, including potential collisions with manned vehicles, covert surveillance, and the use of drones by terrorists or other criminal groups. It should mean that the production of extraordinary photographs and epic videos of our cities — which have been tearing up the internet over the past year – will continue unabated.

However, it has ruffled the feathers of the big boys — namely Amazon, who issued a statement lamenting a key rule, which stipulates that all small unmanned aircraft must remain with the sightline of its operator, with their vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses (that would be glasses or contacts).

This effectively rules out Amazon’s grand plans for Prime Air, the company’s much anticipated drone delivery service, and the retail giant expressed their grievances accordingly in a statement: “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers. We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need.”

So, fantastic architectural photography remains unobstructed, but major commercial usage has hit a proverbial ceiling — for now. How much freedom would you grant to drones?

Yours on autopilot,

The Angry Architect

*http://architizer.com/blog/rules-for-drones/

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