It’s currently illegal to use unmanned aerial drones for anything commercial in the US, something that could be changing sooner than expected. Bloomberg reports that the US Federal Aviation Administration plans a “streamlined” approval process for low-risk commercial uses like farming and filmmaking. The new rule, which will be proposed in November, would allow commercial drones less than 55 pounds to be used in such activities as long as they were considered low risk to humans, structures, and other aircraft.
U.S. aviation regulators said they are considering a streamlined approval process for flights of small unmanned drones for film making, utilities inspections, farming and other low-risk operations. With the first regulation allowing commercial drone flights at least a year away, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking at ways to grant approvals for limited applications before then, said Jim Williams, chief of the agency’s unmanned aircraft division. The FAA is already fielding requests, he said in a speech in Orlando, Florida, today. While such flights aren’t yet permitted, businesses have already been using drones to film sporting events, promote real estate and map land. Industries including agriculture, film making and inspections of utilities and oil and gas facilities have now approached the agency and are considering asking for a formal process for expedited approvals to fly, Williams said.