"Line of Sight" rule for commercial use of drones not here for long?

Ted Craig Pawlosky Iowa Real Estate & Land Use Iowa Banking Law Dickinson Law Des Moines Iowa

Posted on 05/12/2015 at 07:35 AM by Ted Craig

The FAA's proposed rules on commercial use of drones require operators to maintain a 'line of sight' to their aircraft. This requirement significantly limits how an Iowa business can effectively use a drone to capitalize on this new and evolving technology. Recent remarks from FAA Brass, however, show that this requirement might not make the final rules. The FAA is concerned with safety and operators being able to see the drone and anything else in the nearby airspace to avoid any potential collisions. If operators are able to see the nearby airspace through the use of video technology as well as a pilot of a plane or an operator from the ground, the FAA has indicated they might allow such use even if the operator on the ground doesn't have a line of sight to the drone. The FAA is also aware of developing sensor technology that will allow drones to police themselves, automatically sensing and avoiding collisions. These combined technologies may lead to the FAA eliminating the proposed line of sight requirement. The FAA is rightly focused on safety. If developing technology allows commercial drone operators to operate with an equivalent level of safety to line of sight operations, this proposed 'line of sight' rule could be relaxed or even eliminated in final form. Iowa businesses should continue to keep an eye on this developing intersection of law and technology, and brainstorm how to capitalize on this new technology. In other drone news of particular interest to those in Iowa's agriculture industry, the FAA has given California farmers limited permission to use a helicopter drone to spray crops. Use of drones in this manner could have a major impact on farming operations in Iowa. Read more here and here. The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.


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