Could licensed UAVs for US farmers get given the green light by November this year?
The FAA is considering approving UAV use for farming, filmmaking and other industries it deems “low risk” a lot earlier than planned. The agency want permits out for machines that pose no security risk and weigh less than 55 pounds. They have already begun taking requests for permits from various companies according to Bloomberg.
Farmers have been lobbying for years over the use of UAVs for agriculture as they believe they could be the biggest beneficiaries. A blanket ban from the FAA as they consider how to regulate the industry has limited UAV use and development. However, it seems a change of heart is on the cards. Comments such as those from Jim Williams, a senior FAA official, indicate the agency is close to considering an exemption for farmers.
“In the US, large farms use manned aircraft for aerial application of chemicals,” he told a conference sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Florida. “Historically, this is one of the highest-risk forms of manned aviation. So, using unmanned aircraft for precision agriculture may reduce risk in the US airspace.”
Some say that if the US doesn’t move quickly that they are at risk of being left behind.
With many UAVs flying illegally in some industries for a while, it’s clear the demand for UAVs is high and not surprise that the FAA wants to speed things up. What do you think?