Dayton drone enthusiast react to FAA drafted rules

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a new set of rules that could be a game changer for drones.

Sunday, the FAA announced proposed regulations for small drones and commercial use.

And while it may be a year before the rules take effect, businesses are already lining up for permits.

Before Sunday, if any individual wanted to fly commercially, the person or company would have to file with the FAA to receive an exemption for testing, which would allow for flying in a restricted area.

The drafted rules would make it legal for companies to fly certain drones, under specific guidelines.

But for those like Mitchell Hockenberry, a Kettering native, it’s just about using technology, whether for fun or in his case, photography.

“The perspective you get from it, I mean, when you can get a drone and can get the same point of view from a helicopter as a drone, I guess that’s the cheaper way to go about it,” he explained, while shopping at Dayton Drones at the Dayton Mall.

However, with the unique view drone operators can obtain, officials say there comes great responsibility.

“They might be able to be used in situations that it might be dangerous to the conventional aircraft such as overseeing a fire,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.

But the owner of Dayton Drones somewhat disagrees.

“The regulations from what I’ve seen so far the same regulations they’ve had from the past,” said Jay Day,who owns one of few drone retail stores in the Miami Valley.

Of the major regulations proposed, the following are the highlights:

  • Flying only at daylight.
  • Flying under 500 ft.
  • Flying 5 miles from an airport.
  • Flying within operator’s line of site.
  • Flying operator must be FAA certified.

Additionally, other noteworthy regulations would include an age limit; you would have to be 17-years-old to be an operator.

And operators can only fly one drone at a time, plus if requested by the FAA, operators must submit their devices.

Jay Day and fellow drone designers working with him agree regulations are needed; however, he says the proposed draft is flying pass its target.

“Instead of having these rules and telling people, ‘Hey, don’t fly up there’ why isn’t the government going ahead and automatically setting it where these drones won’t do that,” Day questions. “They’re capable of doing it, but they won’t do it.”

The proposed rules would be specific to drones under 55 pounds, but some experts say that’s casting a wide net.

“A three-pound drone or a five-pound drone is very different than a fifty-pound drone,” explained Michael Heurta,an official with the UAS America Fund. “And if that were to crash into a building or be at risk for hitting another manned aircraft, they’re at two ends of the spectrum in terms of the potential for damage.”

While the rules remain up in the air, Day is sure of one thing.

“Drones are gonna grow regardless of what happens.People are going to fly no matter what the rules are”

The public has 60 days to weigh in on this debate.

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