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New FAA Rules Expected to Expand Use of Drones

PHOTO: The FAA is expected to release draft regulations soon for commercial use of drones for businesses, researchers and government agencies. Photo credit: Angela Treinen/Flickr.
PHOTO: The FAA is expected to release draft regulations soon for commercial use of drones for businesses, researchers and government agencies. Photo credit: Angela Treinen/Flickr.
December 29, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The use of small drones is limited to hobbyists and a small number of government agencies, researchers and businesses, but that could soon change.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release new rules by the end of the year.

Dick Honneywell, executive director, Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, says the rules would regulate the commercial use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems.

"That would be a policy step that would be very important that would allow us to move the industry forward and allow us to engage UAS into a number of different productive applications, and support economic development within the state," he states.

Honneywell says drones could be used in a variety of ways, including inspecting bridges, police search and rescue efforts, and correctional facility surveillance.

Some people have privacy concerns about drones, but the FAA has stated it isn't an "immediate safety concern."

President Barack Obama is expected to issue an executive order about the privacy issue after the FAA releases its draft regulations.

Honneywell says small drones are useful in agriculture for monitoring crop health and targeting problems.

"It can identify weed encroachment, nutrient deficiencies, water issues, infestations,” he explains. “And this just basically are tool sets for them to allow them to get that data in a more frequent, timely manner than having folks walk fields."

The FAA rules are expected to cover altitude limits and license requirements for operators, among other things.

T.J. Johnson, chief technology officer of AirDroids Incorporated, says the greatest challenge is finalizing the regulations and building a safe base for operations.

"We need to make that sure it's done safely, but we need to also get these regulations moving,” he says. “And the longer we hold back, we're being held back from being competitive in the world and taking advantage of all the benefits these drones have to offer."

The UAS market is projected to be an $82 billion industry, and create a potential 100,000 jobs over the next decade.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH