US regulator proposes drone licence

Commercial drones require a special pilot certificate, must stay away from bystanders and fly only during the day

The United States aviation regulator has proposed that people flying drones for commercial purposes obtain a special pilot certificate, stay away from bystanders and fly the craft only during the day.

The long-awaited draft rule governing drones also limits flying speed to 160km/h and the altitude to 152m above ground level.

Industry experts said the draft rule from the federal aviation administration [FAA] appeared to be relatively benign, lacking onerous pilot qualifications standards that could have severely restricted commercial flying of drones.

However, the rule is unlikely to help Amazon in its quest to deliver packages with unmanned drones, since its approach requires a FAA-certified small drone pilot to fly the aircraft and keep it line of sight at all times – factors not envisaged in the online retailer's plan.


The draft rule, nearly 10 years in the making, still must undergo public comment and revision before becoming final, a process expected to take at least a year.

The rule would not require drone pilots – who would have to be at least 17 years old – to undergo the medical tests or flight hours required of manned aircraft pilots. – (Reuters)