Senators want drones to fly before rules are finalized

Senators want drones to fly before rules are finalized
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A pair of senators is pushing legislation that would allow U.S. commercial drones to fly before federal regulations on them are finalized. 

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne Overnight Health Care: Warren promises gradual move to 'Medicare for All' | Rivals dismiss Warren plan for first 100 days | White House unveils rules on disclosing hospital prices | Planned Parenthood wins case against anti-abortion group MORE (D-N.J.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (R-N.D.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would set up temporary rules for commercial drone use and testing in the United States until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finishes its rule making on the issue. 


It could take years before the FAA finishes the process, the senators said. 

"We cannot allow other countries to outpace us at what we do best. This legislation is essential to ensuring our legacy as a country that leads the globe in technological innovation," Booker said, adding that the market has the potential to produce billions of dollars. 

With limited exceptions, companies are genarally banned from flying drones for commercial purposes in the United States. 

The temporary rules proposed would require the operator of a drone to pass a test developed by the FAA and require the drone itself to meet certain specifications and inspections. All crashes would have to be reported to the FAA. 

Under the bill, the commercial drones could not fly above 500 feet or out of the operator's line of sight. They could only fly during the day and would have to receive authorization from from air traffic control to fly in certain areas. 

The secretary of Transportation would be given authority to bring civil action against anyone who breaks the rules. The bill would also create a deputy administer in charge of drone oversight at the FAA. 

“We’re on the frontier of a whole new era of aviation, when remotely piloted aircraft will improve crop production, provide valuable aid for first responders and even deliver packages to our doorstep," Hoeven said in a statement. 

The FAA proposed rules in February that would allow for the use of small commercial drones. The line of sight and height restrictions in the proposed FAA rules are similar to Tuesday's legislation. 

Some companies like Amazon have taken issue with some of the FAA's proposed restrictions, arguing the rules would limit its goal of delivering packages using the unmanned vehicles. 

The FAA recently said it plans to set up a program with private companies to determine if it should loosen some of its proposed restrictions.