New Federal Laws Ease Commercial Drone License Requirements

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — New federal laws went into effect on Monday regulating the commercial flying of drones, and making it easier to get licensed.

The new laws also establish height, speed and time restrictions.

Prior to Monday’s passing of new federal drone laws, commercial drone operators would have to get a professional pilot’s license to fly.

Now they have the option of taking a test.

“Drones are something very easy to get into and almost anyone can do it,” said Jake Lutz, manager of Hobby Town in Rocklin.

Drones have certainly taken off in popularity over the last few years, and on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration held a press conference outlining new federal laws for commercial drone operators.

Under the new laws, drone operators who want a commercial license would now have the option to take an Aeronautical Knowledge Test instead of the more rigorous requirement to obtain a pilot’s license.

Lutz says he anticipates the new rule to be a hit among recreational drone operators.

“Of course it would be more appealing to a recreational pilot because it’s an easier transition.”

But some worry this new law could result in even more air-traffic, compromising privacy and safety.

“As the popularity of drones has increased, so has the interference,” said Cal Fire Spokesman Daniel Berlant.

Berlant says his agency has had to ground firefighting aircraft this summer because of the illegal use of drones during active fires.

“We work closely with the sheriff’s office and notify them when incidents like this happen, and they help us find that operator,” Berlant added.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement to CBS13 Monday on how it will enforce these new laws:

“The FAA has a Law Enforcement Assistance Program with special agents who provide support by training, confirming unmanned aircraft registration and identifying if the unmanned aircraft was conducting approved operations.”

According to the FAA, anyone violating the new regulations could face fines of up to $28,000. Anyone interfering with firefighting efforts or law enforcement activity will be fined up to $20,000.

California State law currently allows anyone to fly a drone but restricts flying the device above 350 feet. Flying over private property is not allowed.

More from Angela Musallam

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