New drone rules allow farmers more flexibility

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a comprehensive set of rules for businesses to start using small commercial drones.

Jamie Nafziger, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and is an expert on this topic. She works with businesses on the rules and regulations surrounding drone use.

"In a move that will likely accelerate the already booming drone market, the FAA's new small unmanned aircraft rules significantly ease the burden on businesses which want to make basic commercial uses of UAS.

However, the rules still require FAA pre-approval for more extensive commercial uses.

"For instance, if someone wants to fly a drone over their farm for use in precision agriculture, these new rules make doing that much easier," Nafziger said. "On the other hand, if someone wants to fly over crowds of people or carry significant payloads, they will still need a waiver from the FAA as they have since September 2014.

Nafziger said the use of drones to inspect pipelines, aerial power lines, or mines, will also require a waiver unless it can be done in line of sight from the ground or from a moving land vehicle in a sparsely populated area.

"It doesn't look like commercial package delivery outside the line of sight will be permitted at this time - the FAA says in its rules that it will not be granting waivers for this type of commercial use," Nagziger added.

She said clients ask her if they can hire their nieces or nephews to fly drones for their business and she has had to tell them no, unless their niece or nephew is a pilot.

"Now, under the new rules, I can say 'yes,' so long as their niece or nephew is at least 16 and gets a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating (and follows the new UAS rules, of course). So, we should have lots more eligible operators over the next few months," Nafziger said.

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