U.S. Senator Cory Booker has introduced the “Commercial UAS Modernization Act,” which could create temporary rules to allow commercial drone operations in the United States. Forbes reported that the bill could be presented to the Senate’s Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security for the purposes of using small drones for surveying construction sites or mapping crops.
The bill would create a temporary set of rules until the FAA issues a final set of conditions, which it has said could take up to two years. Booker’s proposed legislation will allow operators that have passed a knowledge test to operate drones commercially below a 500-foot limit, whereas the FAA has proposed that operators have private pilot’s licenses. The legislation does concur with the FAA that the small unmanned aircraft systems should operate below a 500-foot limit, within the FAA’s already defined visual flight rules, and only during daylight, with exceptions.
Last week the FAA ruled that UAS manufacturer, PrecisonHawk, would work with the agency to extend visual line-of-sight rules for operations such as crop monitoring in agricultural operations. It is also exploring, with CNN, on ways to safely gather news in populated areas using drones, and with BNSF to use drones to inspect railway infrastructure.
The Information and Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a nonprofit think tank that promotes technology innovation, is supportive of moving forward with drones. “Every day the FAA spends drafting rules for commercial drones, gives other countries with more innovation-friendly regulatory policies an opportunity to pull further ahead in the race to lead in the development of this emerging technology,” said Daniel Castro, ITIF vicepresident.