In the 1900’s, whilst the Wright brothers were changing the world as we knew it, wide-eyed people- children and adults alike, were seen dotting the outdoors, gazing into the skies each time an “air vessel”, as Lord Byron speculatively called it, passed them by.
Not much has changed since- birdflight is still the basis of aviation, only the aeroplane has an avant-garde counterpart- the drone or unmanned aircraft system.
The concerns that UAS give rise to are comparable to the ones that led federal agencies to enact the National Airspace System. As a result, on June 28th, 2016 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Final Rule” and cleared the decks, addressing uncertainties on who may operate drones, qualifications needed to become a Remote-pilot in Command, visual line-of-sight specifications and the extent of exemptions or waivers.
These regulations (FAR) are the most recent guidelines on the usage of drones and become effective on the 29th of August. Their relevance is further evidenced by the number of FAA registered drone pilots touching five hundred thousand and an ever increasing number of pilots pursuing FAA educational courses.
The question which remains is, to what degree will drones become an indispensable part of our lives in the near future? What will be the extent of their regulation and the resulting consequences of the regulations? UAS are already undertaking deliveries, capturing commercial videos and most recently protecting the lives of the endangered black footed ferrets in the Great Plains.
Within the boundaries of the Final Rule, what will be the next aspect of the commercial world which will be taken over by these drones?