Thousands sign up for drone pilot testing

Image: Drone
The FAA says it’s a new dawn for commercial drone ventures. (Credit: FAA via Twitter)

More than 3,000 people signed up today to get certified as commercial drone pilots under new regulations, and there’ll be more to come, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said during a kickoff news briefing in Washington, D.C.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said his agency already has issued 76 waivers that allow commercial ventures to go beyond the now-standard rules, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. Almost all of those waivers give the go-ahead for flying drones at night, he said. CNN has gotten clearance for flying drones over people, while BNSF Railway will be allowed to fly drones beyond an operator’s visual line of sight.

The FAA’s new regulations for small drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS, generally rule out night flying, flights over uninvolved people, or flights beyond the line of sight. But Huerta said the ventures that received waivers have laid out extra measures to ensure safe operation under those conditions.

The new regulations, known as Part 107, were issued in June but didn’t take effect until today. They replace a case-by-case regulatory system for drones weighing less than 55 pounds – a system that relied on individually issued Section 333 exemptions.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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