A New Drone Proposal Could Make Businesses Very Happy

February 12, 2016, 11:46 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

It may get easier for businesses to fly small drones.

Two Illinois Representatives, Rodney Davis and Cheri Bustos, introduced an amendment on Thursday to a federal bill that would let companies fly drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds for commercial purposes without FAA approval.

The amendment, which was attached to the FAA’s budget bill, would ease rules that currently require all commercial drone operators to get an FAA certification or waiver. It would carve out an exemption for small drones, making it easier for businesses to use unmanned aerial vehicles for photography, checking downed power lines, and monitoring crops.

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“This commonsense amendment will remove bureaucratic red tape and allow for the responsible use of small drones,” said Davis in a statement. “This new classification will spur innovation and help small manufacturers like Horizon Hobby, which specializes in manufacturing drones for agriculture use, expand and create jobs.”

Davis said several countries like Canada, Mexico, and Australia have similar drone exemptions for businesses.

Although companies wont have to get a certificate of approval to use the small drones, they will still be subject to current drone rules. For example, commercial drone operators must always flying the drones within the eyesight of their, no higher than 400 feet above the ground, and five miles away from an airport.

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The FAA’s budget bill is controversial because it includes a provision that would remove the country’s air traffic control system from government oversight to a non-profit board. The funding bill also includes guidance on the use of drones, including the creation of a committee to oversee a drone air traffic control system and letting new types of drone technology be used for research at FAA designated drone testing sites.

Lawmakers are hoping to finalize the FAA funding bill before the funding expires by March 31.

Story clarified to say drones must fly five miles away from an airport.

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