In February, the FAA issued the much anticipated proposed rules for drones titled "The Overview of Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking." Prior to the notice, there was a lot of speculation and more than a little apprehension about how the U.S. would handle drone usage. Short of plain outlawing unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace, the biggest concern was that the FAA would recommend that drone operators be considered pilots and have to attend a sort of flight school and be licensed. That didn’t happen. In fact, most of the fears that were circulating on the Internet proved completely unfounded, much to the collective relief of hobbyists and professionals alike.
Here are some of the highlights from the February notice:
UAS pilots will be considered "operators"; you won’t have to go to flight school to be able to use your drone.
• Every 24 months, operators will have to pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved facility—this seems to be similar to the way firearms are licensed in some states, where buyers must take a short written test every few years to prove rudimentary knowledge.
• Operators must be vetted by the TSA.
• Operators must be at least 17 years old.
• Operators must make the drone available for inspection upon request.
• Operators must report accidents within 10 days if they result in injury or property damage.
For the drone itself, the highlights from the notice are:
• The drone must weigh less than 55 pounds.
• "Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation."