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View from the Cab: Clear for takeoff

A drone is shown during an event in Bloomington last summer / CIFN file photo.

New regulations are expected to create opportunities for businesses and government to use small unmanned aircraft systems, referred to by many as drones.

Just last week, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of UAS. This opens up pathways toward fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. According to the FAA, these new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

The new rule takes effect in late August and offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds conducting non-hobbyist operations. Users may be able to waive some restrictions if the operator proves the proposed flight will be conducted safety under a waiver. An online portal will be used to apply for waivers in the coming months.

Under the final rule, the personal actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with a certificate. An individual must either pass an initial knowledge test or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate to qualify for a remote pilot certificate. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to the issuance of a certificate.

There you have it. Now those small remote-controlled aircrafts flying around the skies will be more than just hobbies in the air. Actual businesses will be doing work with them. This could be very beneficial to the agricultural industry. Stay tuned for more as we say in the business.

Now what to do with that small drone I received as a Christmas present last year. Maybe a new business opportunity awaits – or not. I think I will remain a “hobbyist” at the moment. This sounds so much easier to me.

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