Larsen: Small Drone Rule is ‘An Important First Step in Establishing Rules of the Road’

Jun 21, 2016 Issues: Jobs Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Aviation, today released the following statement after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its final rule regarding the use of small unmanned aircraft systems for commercial, scientific, public safety and other non-recreational uses:

“The unmanned aircraft system industry is booming – and as a global hub for aviation research and development Washington’s second district is well-positioned to benefit from this technological revolution,” said Larsen. “But as these technologies are increasingly integrated into our everyday lives it is critical that safety remains the number one priority, and these regulations are an important first step in establishing rules of the road for these aircraft.”

The FAA’s final rule includes requirements:

  • To avoid operating unmanned aircraft over people;
  • For non-recreational remote pilots to pass a written knowledge test and to go through the same security vetting process as traditional manned-aircraft pilots;
  • For unmanned aircraft to stay at least 5 miles from airports and, among other reasonable restrictions, generally fly at an altitude below 400 feet, creating a safe buffer between unmanned and manned aircraft, which can generally fly no lower than 500 feet; and
  • For remote pilots to keep unmanned aircraft within visual sight.

Larsen has consistently called for a strong regulatory system to safely grow the unmanned aircraft system industry. In 2015, Larsen praised the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to create a registration process for unmanned aircraft systems and later said the agency’s draft rulemaking would “help our country keep its place as the global leader in aviation technology.”