The Drone Countdown
The Center for Democracy and Technology has written a pair of blog posts that are fantastic resources for anyone following the drone debate in the US. The first is a timeline showing exactly what the FAA Modernization and and Reform Act of 2012 specifies. The second is a call for the FAA to consider the impacts to privacy and a description of how they might do that. Both are interesting and you should read both.
From the CDT’s timeline, here’s a list of what I see as the big dates for using drones for journalism.
May 14, 2012: Expedite the licensure of government drones
The Secretary of Transportation must expedite the licensure of government-owned drones. The rules for this expedited licensure for the government will be similar to what RC pilots use now (operator has to be able to see the UAV, they have to fly it under 400 feet and during daylight conditions). Journalists across the country should check and see if your local law enforcement is applying for licenses and then follow how your law enforcement agencies are using them.
Aug. 12, 2012: Early integration of “safe” drones
The DOT must determine if certain types of drones (government and non-government) can operate in the national airspace before completion of the required planning and rulemaking that the FAA law requires. They have to look at if the drone can operate safely and not harm national security. The DOT has to develop rules to make this happen, but there’s no deadline set for them.
Feb. 14, 2013: Deadline for the comprehensive plan
The Secretary of the DOT must submit the final version of the comprehensive plan to Congress. It must also include a 5-year roadmap that gets updated annually.
Aug. 14, 2014: Final rule for non-government drones and implementation of the comprehensive plan
This is the deadline for the final rule to allow non-governmental drones into the airspace. The DOT must also issue it’s plan to implement the comprehensive plan above.
Sept. 30, 2015: Integration of non-government drones
This is the deadline in the law for non-governmental drones to be added to the national airspace.