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FAA Releases Drone Guidance

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Drones in the Unites States have faced an uncertain future with regards to their legal use pending decisions from around the government. Bear in mind, that while “drones” have the modern connotation of quadcopters, the definition includes all unmanned aerial vehicles such as hobbyist remote control airplanes and perhaps even high flying kites. Last December, a huge no-fly zone was dropped over Washington DC but was shortly thereafter rescinded to it’s previous 15 mile size with an extra 15 miles of “special status”. The FAA then released a convenient app for smartphones called B4UFLY allowing a user to identify further no fly zones. It turns out the 5 mile buffer around small airports renders almost every populated area off-limits – who knew there were so many helipads and local airports? On Tuesday the 21st, the FAA released their operational rules for commercial drones (pdf) which contain a number of provisions, one of which requires “pilots” to obtain a certified license. At this time, hobbyist use remains ambiguous under previous guidance (registration, no-fly zones, etc.)

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