(Reuters) – The Trump administration proposed on Monday rules that allow drones to operate over populated areas and end of a requirement for special permits for use in the night – a long-expected moves that are expected to help speed up the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft in the United States.
A drone hovers at a viewpoint overlooking the Space Needle and the skyline of the tech hub of Seattle, Washington, USA 11 February 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, in which the proposal, which will be open for public comment before it can be completed, at a speech in Washington.
Alphabet Inc, and Amazon.com Inc. are among a growing number of companies in the hope that the delivery of the packages by drones a reality.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that in the development of the proposal, the challenge was to “balance the need for reduction of the risk of small unmanned aircraft pose to other aircraft and persons and property on the ground without inhibiting innovation.”
The FAA proposes ending requirements that drone operators will get exemptions for use at night. Through 2017, the FAA granted 1,233 exemptions and “has not received any reports of (drone) accidents,” he said.
The FAA would require drones “an anti-collision light illuminated and visible for at least 3 miles.”
For the operations in densely populated areas, the FAA allows operators would be able to fly small unmanned aircraft with a weight of 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg) or less without additional restrictions.
But the FAA would establish additional regulations for larger drones.
For drones with a weight of more than 0.55 pounds, a manufacturer would have to demonstrate that as an “unmanned aircraft crashed into a person, the resulting damage would be under a certain severity level of the threshold.”
That larger drones would not have exposed rotating parts, which can rupture the human skin and could not operate on the people as they the safety of the defects, the FAA said.
The FAA would prohibit the operations of the largest drones over an open-air assembly of people.
In 2017, President Donald Trump launched a program to expand testing of drones in what the White House said would “open skies for the delivery of life-saving medicines and commercial packages (and) inspections of the critical infrastructure.”
Separately, the FAA said Monday it was considering moving forward with additional rules in response to public safety and national security concerns as it works to integrate drones with aircraft traffic.
The FAA proposed that discretionary waivers for activities during the move of vehicles, for the operations people who would not otherwise meet the standards described in the proposal, and for those who do not meet the anti-collision lighting of the requirement.
Drone safety remain a concern.
Two of the London airports disrupted by drones in the past few weeks, and the British government is considering toughening laws that prohibit the use of drones in the vicinity of airports.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Frances Kerry