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New Rules For Flying Your Drone

Associated Press

The Federal Aviation Administration is out with new rules for small, remote piloted aircraft, known as drones.  This comes just as hobbyists are expected to purchase hundreds of thousands of them during this holiday season. 

 While hobbyists had been allowed to fly small drones as they long as they kept them below 400 feet and complied with safety regulations, they’re now required to register them with the Federal Aviation Administration before December 21st.  Anyone who buys one after that will have to register it before its first flight.

The new rules for small, non-commercial drones come at a pivotal time because thousands more of them are expected to take to the air over the next few months. Rose Mooney is Executive Director of the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership headquartered at the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.  She says requiring registration is by hobbyists is an important step in the advent of a whole new technology in our society.   

“I think there’s impact to all of us because one of the issues with hobbyists is nowadays is they’re able to fly aircraft easily. They can take it out of the box.  Up until recent, the hobbyist actually had a vested interest, they spent hours building aircraft, they had a whole community that they interacted with and learned about aviation.  Now anybody can buy them off Amazon or e-bay and get it in the air without any knowledge.”

FAA officials say the new requirement forregistering your drone will help spread the word about the rules of the air for hobbyists, such as flying only below 400 feet, keeping the aircraft in within sight and respecting privacy rights. Registration will also create a way for authorities to track aircraft owners if they are any problems.

This phase applies only to the smallest unpiloted aircraft by hobbyists.  A set of regulations for larger commercial drones is expected to in June 2016.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.
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