Unless you have been completely disconnected from all media, you are probably already aware that on Sunday, February 15, 2015, the FAA announced the release of its long-awaited rules to govern commercial sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) operations in the United States. The FAA’s proposed sUAS rules arrived like a barely-late valentine or box of candy, with the recipients hoping to read loving prose and enjoy fresh, rich chocolates. At this point, of course, the rules are merely a proposed regulatory regime (as embodied in a document that is called a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” or “NPRM”), and it will surely take many months—probably a couple of years—for the rules to be finalized and adopted, and to go into effect. (Only then will we know for sure whether the valentine message was really a “dear John” letter or whether the candy was stale and half-eaten.) It is important to understand that, for now, the FAA’s current prohibition on commercial UAS operations remains in effect, except for operators that have obtained a Section 333 Exemptionfrom the FAA. (To date, nearly 30 entities have received exemption grants from the FAA.)
For years, the Federal Aviation Administration has let only hobbyists — not businesses — fly privately owned drones. Rules allowing commercial use of drones keep being promised but keep being delayed, and always for safety reasons, the FAA claims.
Meanwhile, other countries are letting businesses use drones in all kinds of creative ways, and without compromising safety in the process.
And we’re not talking about faraway and exotic lands.
“In Canada, anyone who wants to use a drone for commercial purposes simply asks the country’s aviation regulator for a permit to do so and, in most cases, receives one in 10 to 20 business days,” the emerging-technology website Gigaom.com reported in September.