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New Rules for Commercial Drones

New Rules for Commercial Drones

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From medical deliveries to real estate surveys, an increasing number of business transactions and practices now involve the use of commercial drones. However, as the world adjusts to this new technology, government regulations continue to evolve too. Because these small, unmanned aircraft continue to interfere with airplane flight paths, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is introducing new requirements to enforce existing rules for recreational and commercial drone use.

Registration Requirements for Individual Drones

Two weeks before Christmas, the FAA announced new regulations for drones. Every three years, drone owners must now pay $5 to register their aircraft on the FAA’s official website. Each drone will also receive its own identification number, which owners must place somewhere on the aircraft itself.

These regulations only apply to drones that weigh between half a pound and 55 pounds, but they aren’t restricted to recreational users. Commercial drones may carry cameras, packages and other lightweight objects from place to place without exceeding this weight limit. Now, the FAA will be able to track these items and their applications more closely.

Limitations on Common Drone Applications

Drones make it easier to photograph and monitor commercial properties, such as sprawling farms and tall skyscrapers. However, the FAA’s restrictions may severely limit their usefulness for real estate developers, contractors, farm owners and others. Knowing these limitations is an important part of commercial real estate law. For example, the FAA doesn’t allow drones to fly at altitudes higher than 400 feet, so contractors cannot use them to scale and survey tall buildings.

Commercial drones have also been used to photograph athletic events (including the 2014 Winter Olympics) and wildlife, deliver packages, spray pesticides, and even perform search and rescue operations. However, many of these applications require people to operate the drones remotely, an ability that the FAA and lawmakers continue to question.

Rules About Using Drones Commercially

The FAA’s voluntary guidelines actually prohibit the commercial use of any “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV). However, the agency has never prosecuted a business or person for this, and a commercial attorney has argued the laws aren’t clear enough to be enforceable.

Regardless of the legal regulations surrounding drones, businesses and consumers continue to operate them, both in person and remotely. As laws evolve and new guidelines become permanent, business owners will continue to fight for the opportunity to profit off these versatile vehicles.

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