The comment period on the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its rules for drone operations has ended and 899 comments were received on the highly detailed document. The agency says it’s now digesting those comments and won’t give an estimate of how long it will take to turn the NPRM and the comments into a final rule. To complicate matters, the agency also has to consider 1819 comments received in the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that preceded the NPRM. “We have to review, analyze and develop responses to the NPRM comments and include our responses in the final rule. In the case of the ANPRM, the comments may help us develop additional proposed rules,” the FAA told Avionics International.
In general, the NPRM focuses on the most common reasons drone operators now apply for waivers to conduct night flying and flights over people, and allows them without waivers as long as the pilots are trained and certified. A complex set of criteria determining the risk of injury or death to those who get in the way of wayward drones is used to determine relative risk factors of the operations of various drones and the precautions that need to be taken to minimize those sorts of misadventures. The pilot certificates will have to be renewed every two years. Flights remain restricted to visual line of sight operations and drones will have to be registered and carry identity numbers.