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When Will Drones Be Available for Commercial Use?

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Drones are typically associated with the military use. Recently, however, private companies have being developing commercial uses for drones, such as delivering consumer goods, recording videos, and providing Internet service.

CaptureCurrently, drones are only approved for private use. Companies like Amazon, want to change this and are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to quickly create regulation for commercial drone use.

Businesses are not happy with the FAA because the agency is taking a long time to create rules and regulations for commercial drone use. In 2012, Congress told the FAA to submit guidelines and final regulations by September 2015. This deadline is still not appeasing business. Amazon has critiqued the slow U.S. regulatory process and has praised other countries for their quick action and procedures.

While the U.S. is delaying commercial drone use, several countries have already approved it, including Canada, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Businesses usually have to wait up to six months before getting permission to test their technology with the FAA, whereas the wait in foreign countries is between one to two months. This waiting period is crucial because the technology may become obsolete by the time the FAA gives its approval.

To solve this problem, the FAA has recently stated that it plans on approving a “blanket” requirement that will allow companies to test their commercial drones without seeking further permission from the agency.

The FAA’s proposed new rules may also include the following requirements:

  • Drone pilots must be licensed
  • Drones may only be used during daylight hours
  • Drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet
  • Drones must stay within eyesight of the person controlling the aircraft at all times

The FAA may be dragging its feet on creating regulation because of other concerns, such as privacy violations. Or the fear that drones could collide with airplanes or other aircrafts. While approving regulations will quickly win favor from businesses and entrepreneurs, the agency may be criticized for not properly weighing the pros and cons of this new technology. Due to this tough balancing act the agency must perform, it is unlikely that commercial drones will be used to deliver your holiday gifts, or textbooks any time soon.

Jessica Tran

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