New US drone rules will allow flying at night, over people

The US aviation authority has published new proposed rules about how and when drones can be flown, by professionals, in the US. Reuters:

The FAA is proposing ending requirements that drone operators get waivers to operate at night. Through 2017, the FAA granted 1,233 waivers and “has not received any reports of (drone) accidents,” it said.

The FAA would require that drones have “an anti-collision light illuminated and visible for at least three statute miles,” as well as testing and training.

Under the FAA’s proposals, operators would be able to fly small unmanned aircraft weighing 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) or less over populated areas without any additional restrictions.

Great news for drone makers. Here’s what market-leader DJI said in an emailed statement:

“Drones prove every day that they belong in the sky doing important work for America, and everyone benefits when it is easier for professionals to safely fly over people and at night,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “Drones have helped rescue more than 200 people from peril around the world, and drones help professionals do their work faster, safer, more efficiently and at a lower cost. Removing the barriers to routine night operations and flight over people will mean more benefits for more people.”

The firm notes that currently night flying is allowed, but only if the FAA issues a waiver. This has happened, DJI says, 1,233 times so far without “a single accident” reported.