HR 658 on UAS Drones
On Feb 6, 2013, the House gave final passage to the legislation. House approval came on a quite The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill later today.
Here are details on what the bill would do in terms of drones:
Require the FAA to simplify and
speed up the process by which it
issues permission to government
agencies to operate Unmanned
Aircraft Systems (UAS) drones. It must
do this within 90 days. The FAA has
already been working on a set of
proposed regulations to loosen the
rules around Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles (UAV) drones, reportedly set
for release in the spring of 2012.
• Require the FAA to allow “a government public safety agency” to operate any UAS drone weighing 4.4 pounds or less as long as certain conditions are met (within line of sight, during the day, below 400 feet in altitude, and only in safe categories of airspace).
• Require the FAA to establish a pilot project within six months to create six test zones for integrating UAV drones “into the national airspace system.”
• Require the FAA to create a comprehensive plan “to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” “Civil” drones means those operated by the private sector; currently it is all but impossible for any non-government entity, except for hobbyists, to get permission to fly drones (for-profit use of drones is banned). Industry groups and their congressional supporters see this as a potential area for growth. Congress specifies that the plan must provide for the integration of drones into the national airspace system “as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.” The FAA has nine months to create the plan. The FAA is also required to create a “5-year roadmap for the introduction” of civil UAS drones into the national airspace.
• Require the FAA to publish a final rule within 18 months after the comprehensive plan is submitted, “that will allow” civil operation of small (under 55 pounds) drones in the national airspace, and a proposed rule for carrying out the comprehensive plan.