Commercial Drone Alliance Applauds Department of Transportation's Release of the FAA's Small UAS Final Rule

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Broadly Authorizing Commercial UAS Operations is a Start, but Industry Urges Additional Flexibility to Enable Low-Risk Operations

The final rule is a better approach to the previous exemption-based system, as permanent rules offer the necessary certainty needed to encourage growth in the commercial sector.

The Department of Transportation today released the Federal Aviation Administration’s final ruling for non-recreational use of small UAS (under 55 lbs.), broadly authorizing commercial drone operations in the United States. With the new rule in place, industry will now be able to avoid the time-consuming and costly process of requesting exemptions from the FAA just to receive the basic authorization to fly drones for commercial operations.

Members of the Commercial Drone Alliance applaud the DOT, FAA and other federal government policymakers. The final rule is a better approach to the previous exemption-based system, as permanent rules offer the necessary certainty needed to encourage growth in the commercial sector.

The FAA’s final rule marks a big and important step forward for the commercial use of drones and paves the way for the U.S. to catch up to the rest of the world in realizing the benefits of this technology. However, Alliance members urge policymakers to take additional steps quickly to enable new technologies to thrive in the U.S. as they evolve and mature.

The Alliance is pleased that the rule includes a waiver process for operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), operations over people, night operations, and more. Technologies now in use in UAS actually solve many of those issues, and those should be enabled. The Alliance urges expedience and flexibility in the implementation of these provisions so that innovation is able to thrive in a way that does not compromise safety.

The Alliance understands that the general public still has reservations about drone technology, which is typical of any new technological development. As such, the Commercial Drone Alliance supports the Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency and Accountability created by the Mulitstakeholder Group convened by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the President’s request.

The agreed-upon document details best practices for safe commercial drone operations that build the public’s trust around privacy, accountability and transparency. This applies to both private and commercial drone use in the National Air Space.

“The promise of drones in commercial applications is limited only by our imagination. Just some of the critical applications in which drones are now taking part include the fast delivery of life-saving supplies; surveying disaster areas so precious resources can be delivered where they’re needed most; better crop production for lower food costs and improved safety for construction, maintenance and survey crews,” said Gretchen West, co-executive director, Commercial Drone Alliance and senior advisor, Hogan Lovells. “This is a huge step forward for the industry and will help the U.S. catch and compete with other countries that have already started to see the benefits of drone use.”

“The announcement of the final rule marks the beginning of a very exciting time for industries that stand to directly benefit from process improvements and efficiencies drones will immediately enable,” said Lisa Ellman, co-executive director, Commercial Drone Alliance and partner, Hogan Lovells. “It’s gratifying to see policymakers helping U.S. industry catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to the use of UAS in business. There’s still more to do, though, and we welcome the ongoing dialogue needed to introduce businesses to the broadest spectrum of drone capabilities.”

The Commercial Drone Alliance is interested in expanding its membership to create a broader base of support for growing the industry as a whole. Potential partners and members can learn more at

About the Commercial Drone Alliance
Founded in 2016, the Commercial Drone Alliance is an independent 501c6 non-profit led by the commercial drone industry co-located in Silicon Valley, CA and Washington, DC. The overarching vision of the Alliance is to support commercial enterprise end users and assist them with adopting drone technology into their businesses, reducing barriers to entry, addressing public perception issues, and merging policy with innovation to create relevant rules for operation.

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Gretchen West

Lisa Ellman
since: 05/2016
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