COLUMBUS — Farmers who want to use drones in their operations have until April 24 to voice their opinion before the Federal Aviation Administration closes the comment period on rules it has proposed for the use of unmanned aircraft systems.
The FAA published proposed regulations that would govern the use of small unmanned aircraft systems in agriculture and other enterprises.
The rules, according to Peggy Hall, Ohio State University Extension’s agricultural and resource law field specialist, would require operators to comply with a certification process, which includes passing an exam.
Operators would also have to register and maintain the aircraft and follow limitations on aircraft operation, said Hall.
“The good news is that FAA is going to create a special category that allows for small drone usage, which right now is not permitted unless you have a special exemption from the FAA,” Hall said.
The primary concerns for agriculture use are the proposed visual line-of-sight requirement, which requires that operators maintain visual contact with aircraft, a flight ceiling of 500 feet above ground level and no nighttime flights.
Hall said the proposed rules also do not address the misuse of drones for surveillance activities, as FAA says it doesn’t have the legal authority to address the issue.
“That’s a concern for many in the agricultural community who worry about the potential use of drones for surveillance activities that violate a property owner’s privacy,” she said.
While the FAA will accept public comment on the proposed rules until April 24, issuance of final rules for drone use likely won’t come until at least next year, Hall said.
Public comments on the proposed FAA rules can be made at www.regulations.gov (search for UAS).