Proposed FAA Rules Would Open Skies to Commercial Drones

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Sorry, Amazon drone. Photo: Amazon

While the recent alcohol-fueled drone incident at the White House did not inspire confidence in Americans’ ability to handle drones, on Sunday the government took a big step toward opening the skies to unmanned aircraft. After missing several deadlines, the FAA issued its proposed rules for flying drones up to 55 pounds for commercial purposes. The Wall Street Journal reports that operators would have to pass a written exam, and drones could not be flown higher than 500 feet, at night, or over people not involved in their flight. The devices would also have to remain in the operator’s sight, which means companies like Amazon and Google will have to hold off on plans to replace UPS drivers with delivery drones. The FAA will take comments from the public before issuing the final regulations, so companies probably won’t be able to obtain drone permits until 2017.