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US proposes drone operation at night, about people

(Reuters) – The Trump administration on Monday proposed rules that allow drones to operate over populated areas and end of a requirement for special permits for use in the night, the long awaited the actions that are expected to help speed up the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft in the United States.

FILE PHOTO: An Amazon Prime Air Flying Drone is displayed during the ‘Drones’: Is the Sky the Limit?’ exhibition at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, united states, May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The proposals, prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration of the U.S. Transportation Department, come to the midst of the concern about the dangers that drones could pose to the aircraft and populated areas.

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the department was aware of the drone safety.

“The department is aware of the fact that there is legitimate public concern about drones, in the field of safety, security and privacy,” Chao said in a speech in Washington.

Two of the London airports disrupted by drone sightings in the past few weeks, and the British government is considering toughening laws that prohibit the use of drones in the vicinity of airports.

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN.O) are among a growing number of companies in the hope that the delivery of the packages by drones a reality.

The FAA said that in the development of proposals for the challenge 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.”

Chao noted, there are almost 1.3 million registered drones in this country, and more than 116,000 registered drone operators.

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 three miles,” as well as testing and training.

Under the FAA’s proposals, operators would be able to fly small unmanned aircraft with a weight of 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg or less over populated areas without any additional restrictions.

For drones with a weight of more than 0.55 pounds, however, 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.

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

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.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Frances Kerry and Steve Orlofsky

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