Drone which is typically considered to be a lethal weapon of war has come out of its scary image as the device has been bestowed an aircraft status legally few months back. This has encouraged more companies and individuals to come forward and explore the segment. Drone has already fueled imagination of hobbyists who experimented with its miniature form. Time to time news poured in about hobbyist drones breaking into Apple’s construction site or even intruding White House’s tight security. However in coming days, drone operation is expected to take a much serious turn as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced issuing eight more drone licenses.
Of the granted licenses, five are issued to companies permitting them to operate their unmanned aircraft’s. With issuance of latest drone licenses by FAA, the number of approval now moves to 24. The license issuing process started from September last year, when movie and television production companies first got approval to use drones. This was followed by exemptions in real estate photography, agricultural supervision and aerial surveying.
The FAA announcement came last Tuesday whereby it stated receiving applications from 342 companies and individuals, which are under consideration. This is a clear indication that FAA is adopting bit more flexible stance regarding commercial drone operation. With the announcement, FAA further reminded that flying drones for personal use or enjoyment doesn’t fall under legal ambit, at least till now.
However if it is for commercial use then its mandatory for the pilot to have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current fitness certificate. The pilot should be accompanied by an observer and the drone must not move out of the line of sight.
From Tuesday’s approvals some interesting trends related to drone usage has emerged. Most of the applications lying for approval are related to the imaging industry. In fact the latest drone licenses have been awarded to companies which plan to use these for aerial photography, Video, TV production and survey. A new industry that has been added in the list is inspection of flare stacks which are used in petrol-chemical, oil and natural gas sites to burn off hazardous gases.
One of the most controversial cases in the pending list is that of the e-commerce giant Amazon. While still waiting for an exemption, the company must have become bit impatient as it is threatening to shift its drone delivery research to some other country. If they indeed do so then this would be the second company to shift their drone delivery research project after Google which already did so as their work is now going on in Australia.
With total 24 licenses granted till date and relaxation in restrictions for two licenses granted last year, FAA is expected to be more lenient in coming days. This might open the floodgate for other petitioners who are also seeking exemptions related to flying altitude limits or pilot licensing process for drone operators. Now it is to be seen how far FAA succeeds in streamlining the drone operation process by preventing unwanted intrusion into privacy.