FAA restricts small drones near airports

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is restricting recreational drones and model airplanes by barring their use within 5 miles of airports.

"The FAA intends to apply its enforcement authority to model aircraft operations that endanger the safety of the National Airspace System," the agency wrote on Monday.

The agency is defining the model airplanes as devices that weigh 55 pounds or less, and says they will be prohibited from flying near an airport without permission from air traffic controllers.

The move comes after the FAA reported a drone nearly collided with an airplane in March.

Model airplanes will also be prohibited from flying more than 400 feet above ground, and will not be permitted to fly over populated areas where there is an increased risk of someone getting injured from a model plane crash.

The FAA's decision could have larger implications for companies like Amazon.

The rules would specifically prevent companies from using recreational drones for commercial purposes, meaning Amazon couldn't deliver packages with one of these devices.

The FAA gave several examples to spell out the differences between commercial and recreational purposes. 

According to the new rules, people could use model airplanes to take photographs for their own personal use, but real estate companies could not use the devices to take photos of a home it is trying to sell. 

People could also use model airplanes to transport boxes if they are moving to another house. But companies could not use them to deliver packages.

Farmers could use model airplanes to determine whether their crops need to be watered, as long as the crops are for their own personal use. But if they intend to sell the crops, then they could not fly the recreational drones.

"Model aircraft that do not meet these statutory requirements are nonetheless unmanned aircraft, and as such, are subject to all existing FAA regulations," the agency wrote.

The new rules go into effect immediately.