White House Issues New Rules to Help Minimize Drone Crashes

Drone crashedDrones flying around jobsites are becoming increasingly common as builders look to enhance project efficiency and product marketing.

Last November, about 2,000 individuals from a wide range of industries were authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to commercially operate a drone in the U.S. That number has since shot up to well over 10,000, and thousands more applications await approval.

But the large majority of drone operators are hobbyists, which is a big reason why Tuesday the White House zeroed in on the hobby market. In addition to imposing a 55-pound weight limit for hobby drones, the new rules require operators to:

  • Maintain constant visual contact with their aircraft
  • Operate only in the daylight
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet
  • Not fly over strangers

Despite rising public and private interest in the countless business applications for drones, no changes were made to regulations regarding commercial use. Commercial operators will still be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration and must pass the FAA-required exams and complete the registration process as outlined under the FAA’s Section 333.

The FAA projects the sale of drones intended for commercial use will skyrocket from about 600,000 this year to 2.7 million by 2020. A report from the Washington Post about the new rules cited comments from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta who acknowledged a need to develop a more long-term framework for commercial drone regulation, as well as a need to “[rely on] the expertise and collaboration of key industry stakeholders.”

NAHB recently took the necessary steps that enable it to work with builders, construction groups and other leaders to actively promote the development of technologies – including drones – that improve business operations for builders.

A resolution was passed during the 2016 International Builders’ Show allowing NAHB to weigh in on technology-related issues with Congress and federal agencies in its efforts to protect small businesses from any misguided regulation and potential legal liability.

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