Back in February, we learned the Loudon County Emergency Management director was able to purchased a small drone with grant money. There were high hopes for the use of the drone from missing persons searches to monitoring hazardous spills to search and rescue missions. Alas, it doesn't appear that's going to happen.

While you or me or any ten year old could fly our drones pretty much how we wanted to, the FAA regulations on government operation of even small drones, is so onerous and the permits and costs so high, it pretty much prohibits a small county like ours from operating a drone. I understand the drone is up for sale now.

So I guess for now, we'll just have to keep handling emergency situations the old fashion way.

Anybody want to buy a barely used drone?

Below are some of the new rules.

  • Drones must be under 55 pounds
  • Flights must take place during daylight hours
  • Flights must take place within visual line of sight of the operator
  • Operators may work with a visual observer, but the operator still must be able to maintain visual line of sight
  • The drone must be registered and aircraft markings are required
  • Operators must be 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test, hold an FAA UAS operator certificate, and pass a TSA background check
  • Aeronautical knowledge testing must be renewed every 24 months (no private pilot license or medical rating would be required)
  • Operators must ensure their aircraft is safe for flight, but there are no burdensome airworthiness standards or certification requirements (a preflight       inspection conducted by the operator, checking communications links and equipment will be sufficient)
  • Operators must report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage
  • No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission, Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
  • The new rules will not apply to model aircraft if those operators continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes
  • The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS
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