New Rules for Commercial Drones Reveal Precautionary Mindset

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled new rules for the commercial use of drones. According to The New York Times’ Cecilia Kang, the new rules allow businesses to use drones weighing less than 55 pounds so long as the pilot has passed a written test and flies below 400 feet.

While Kang notes that a fact sheet released by the White House estimates that “commercial drones could generate more than $82 billion in the next decade,” the new rules did not authorize drones for package delivery—a goal for companies like Amazon and Google that could lead to even more economic activity.

Although this new set of rules provides more clarity to commercial drone users who have been dealing with a variety of differing state and local laws, it still reveals a precautionary mindset among regulators. For drones to reach their true commercial potential, regulators should embrace a philosophy of permissionless innovation that allows companies and consumers to help determine which products and uses are best.

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