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Drones for Businesses Can Take Off Under New FAA Regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration's new rules for small commercial drones take effect today, making it easier for businesses to take to the skies.
A drone flies over North Dakota.AP file

Businesses looking to use drones got a new boost today under new Federal Aviation Administration regulations but getting your toilet paper delivered by Amazon is still a ways off.

The relaxed new guidelines for small commercial drones mark the start of a new era for innovating with drones. Previously, companies were required to request permission from the federal government for any commercial drone use -- a process that often took months.
DJI, the world's largest maker of unmanned aerial vehicles, called the new rules a "watershed moment" in a June statement. However, there are still constraints.
Commercial drones must be under 55 pounds. They can only be operated during the day and up to a half hour before sunrise and after sunset, according to the FAA rules.
The rules also make it clear drone delivery services, such as the one proposed by Amazon, are still a distant dream.
Under the new guidelines, the drone still must remain in the pilot's line of sight. Operators have to adhere to a 100 mph speed limit and can't fly higher than 400 feet in altitude.
Companies will also be able to apply for waivers if they have a use that goes outside of the stated guidelines.
Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation said at a news conference today the new rules could be an economic boon, generating more tan $82 billion and creating more than 100,000 jobs over the next decade.
"There are literally dozens of missions a drone can do that would otherwise put a human life at risk," Foxx said.
The new rules open up drones for use across a wide range of industries, including farming, construction, conservation, and film and video production, among others.
Speaking at the news conference today, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the advent of drones is opening up a new era in aviation.
"Drones are opening up aviation to people who would have never thought of entering the field through a traditional route," he said.
The new rules won't have an impact on recreational users, who are required to keep their drones within their line of sight and stay at least 25-feet away from people and "vulnerable property."
The FAA also has an app called "B4UFLY" which lets hobbyists know if it's safe to fly at their location and whether any restrictions are in place.