Four Concerns For Potential Commercial Drone Pilots

Four Things To Know About The FAA’s Rules About Commercial Drone Usage


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” The rules for commercial drone usage released last week by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) left some unanswered questions on the table. We discussed some of these with Thomas Gemmell, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and the co-leader of the drone team at the law firm Husch Blackwell in Chicago.

  The rules, which concern unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and flying no more than 400 feet above ground, require that drones remain within the visual line of sight of the pilot. Remote pilots are also required to hold a remote pilot airman certificate.

State laws and privacy concerns

  At the moment, there’s no federal law that governs drones and addresses privacy concerns. What we do have is at least 46 bills and regulations in different states. “Some of them apply to the type of data that’s been collected, some to the use of the data, some apply to not interfering with the lawful right to hunt and fish, and a lot of them go to the issue of voyeurism,” said Gemmell. “California has a larger concern for privacy, in particular people living in the LA area involved with movie and television operations.”

  A federal law will preempt, or invalidate, all these state or local laws.

  In terms of privacy protection on a national level, there are the General Best Practice Guidelines issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). They essentially warn drone operators to give notice before flying, to secure data that is collected and don’t share it and comply with state and local laws.

They are, however, voluntary guidelines.”


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