My son-in-law has almost convinced me that a drone will be in my future. (Only as a supplement to my lovely airplane) So I've been doing a bit of research on the requirements.
I have been a licensed airplane pilot for 17 years, and possess multiple ratings: instrument, commercial, flight instructor, land and sea ratings, etc... And I hold a second class medical certificate. So basically, I am qualified for just about anything except a helicopter or a jet airplane. Yes, I am qualified to fly a drone -- pretty much no matter what regulations they finalize.
Here are the rules that I have found so far (commercial use):
- The drone weighs less than 55 pounds
- It must be operated no more than 400 feet above ground level.
- It must be within the visual line of sight of the pilot at all times. This requirement clarifies it as "human vision" unaided by any devise other than corrective lenses.
- You must utilize a second person who is a visual observer (VO). The pilot and the VO must be able to communicate verbally at all times (no electronic messaging or texting permitted during flight). The VO combined with the pilot must be able to see the drone at all times, and they cannot switch tasks during the flight.
- If you are testing your drone, following any maintenance, it must remain 500 feet away from any person during its test flight.
- The drone must be maintained according to its prescribed maintenance schedule. And you must comply with all the manufacturers safety bulletins.
- The drone pilot must hold a FAA-issued pilots certificate, and be current in that certificate.
- All drone operations must be conducted during daylight hours and under visual meteorological conditions (VMC).
- May not operate within 5 nautical miles of an airport, unless a letter of agreement with that airport's management is obtained.
- It may not be operated by the pilot from any moving device or vehicle.
- All drone flight must be conducted at least 500 feet from all nonparticipating persons, vessels, vehicles and structures -- unless the owner of those vessels, vehicles and structures has granted permission for operating closer.
- All operations shall be conducted over private or controlled-access property with permission from the property owner.
Well the operating requirements are a bit confusing: You must fly over privately-owned property and you must maintain line-of-sight contact with your drone at all times. (How would you photograph the perimeters of someone's property without leaving their property to look down at it?)
I guess I'll keep checking on the practical aspects of this.