FAA Proposal on Drones

This past Sunday, February 15th, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an outline of rules for drone usage by companies. These proposed regulations are extremely limiting to businesses, like Google and Amazon, which wanted to begin using drones as a delivery system.  However, the drone industry and many lawmakers are in favor of these regulations. The proposal says that drones must stay in sight of the operator, and it cannot fly over people who are not involved in the drone operations, strongly limiting the drones’ capability of providing delivery services.  The FAA also limits the weight of an unmanned aircraft to 55 pounds, which puts a restriction on the size of packages that can be delivered. The drones are only allowed to fly up to 500 feet high according to the proposal.  Other countries, such as Canada and Denmark, are already using drones for commercial purposes. The benefits are quick delivery that is cheaper, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive.  One of Google’s Project Wing goals is to increase same day delivery that is already occurring by automobiles in cities like San Francisco and New York. The drones would expand same day delivery to other cities, further away. Another benefit that Google hopes Project Wing will be able to provide is quick emergency delivery to disaster areas, where the drones can distribute first aid kits, food and other supplies.  There are those who are not in favor of this drone delivery system for many reasons including crowding the sky, drones used for indiscreet surveillance, and the possibility of these drones being hacked. These regulations that have been proposed are not definite yet and a 60-day comment period has been opened. Executives within Google and Amazon are asking the FAA to reconsider the regulations and make them more business friendly, whereas executives in the unmanned aircraft industry already believe the proposal is a huge milestone that will make the industry more fruitful and create more jobs.

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