US opens up skies for commercial drone operators

US opens up skies for commercial drone operators

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The Federal Aviation Administration has unveiled long-awaited new rules that clear the way for small, commercial drones to operate across US airspace – but don’t expect an aerial delivery from Amazon just yet.

Under the FAA’s rules, drone operators will be allowed to fly commercial craft weighing less than 25 kilograms during daylight hours, provided they can maintain a clear view of the drone at all times.

While that effectively precludes the sort of robo-delivery services being developed by Amazon and other major vendors, the new rules will nonetheless ensure drones become increasingly commonplace in the skies.

Drone operators no longer need a full pilot’s license. Now, they must only be 16 years old, vetted by the Transportation Security Administration and able to pass an FAA test for a two-year certification.

Previously, commercial drone users had to apply for waivers to operate their craft, and authorities had approved thousands of these on a case-by-case basis.

The White House cites industry estimates suggesting drones could generate more than $82 billion for the US economy over the coming decade, creating some 100,000 new jobs.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration would work closely with private businesses to continue streamlining regulations.

“The president has made clear that the future success of our economy will depend on our ability to continue to innovate,” Earnest told reporters. Read More

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