The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) reports that the FAA has decided to raise the operating altitude for drones used in commercial industry.
Brian Wynne, president of AUVSI, said, “The FAA’s decision to raise the operating altitude of the blanket COA from 200 feet to 400 feet provides greater flexibility to those receiving FAA exemptions and makes it easier for more commercial UAS operators to access the skies."
Wynne says the 400-foot ceiling is still lower than the proposed 500-foot range in the small UAS rule, but acknowledges it is a start.
“However, the FAA still needs to finalize its small UAS rule as quickly as possible to allow anyone who follows the rule to fly. The new blanket COA altitude remains lower than the operating ceiling of 500 feet proposed in the small UAS rule. In addition, other requirements for UAS operators under the Section 333 exemption process are more onerous than those contemplated in the proposed rule. The UAS industry is poised to be one of the fastest-growing in American history, and we urge the FAA to finalize the small UAS rule without further delay so this technology can truly take off.”
In May 2014, the FAA announced it would consider granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS applications under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The agency began granting exemptions in September 2014. To date the FAA has granted more than 4,200 exemptions. According to AUVSI’s report on the first 1,000 exemptions, businesses in more than 25 industries representing more than 600,000 jobs and $500 billion in economic impact now are using UAS technology. The full report can be found here.
Check here for more AUVSI infographics showing how drones are already being used in construction and building related industries.