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FAA Proposes More Commercial Drone Operations at Night and Over People

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A drones on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

The Federal Aviation Administration has released preliminary rules to allow small drones to fly over crowds of people at night.

Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released preliminary rules to allow small drones to fly routinely over crowds of people at night, a long-awaited step toward opening up more airspace and commercial opportunities for unmanned aircraft.

The proposed rules also call for enhanced training of ground operators and installation of anti-collision lights.

The draft document creates separate categories of drones based on weight and other criteria, then aims to impose different levels of safeguards to prevent injuries in the event of a crash.

Among other proposals, the FAA wants manufacturers to demonstrate that production materials, speed, altitude restrictions, and emergency maneuvering capabilities will prevent injuries, especially from propellers or other rotating parts.

Separately, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that three public-private partnerships already are testing advanced drone operations, with pilot projects to develop air-traffic management concepts for unmanned aircraft to run through September.

From The Wall Street Journal
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