New federal safety rules for drones open up skies for industry

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are drones of many sizes, including one capable of lifting 200 pounds, at Charlotte UAV, a drone service company.

"Drones are tools that can provide you benefit more than you know," Walter Lappert, with Charlotte UAV, said.

Lappert is a former U.S. Air Force pilot who now spends most of his time building and flying drones.

He said new Federal Aviation Administration rules on how businesses like his can operate will forever change his industry.

"Previously, if I wanted to fly in a certain location, it might take six months in advance to fly there because I'd have to petition to the FAA," he said.

Before Monday, FAA rules required a commercial drone pilot to be an actual licensed pilot capable of flying a plane.

There are still strict requirements and rules but fewer hoops to jump through.

Experts who fly and work on drones said the new FAA rules are not just good for their industry.
Lappert said pilots will need to know what they're doing.
"Here locally in Charlotte, it's a problem and that's really why the FAA needs to make everybody aware that there are rules and that you can't just be a vigilante and do whatever you want with them," Lappert said.
The drone industry is expected to generate $82 billion for the economy and as many as 100,000 new jobs by 2025, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology.
Lappert said his company gets a phone call every day from someone wanting to use a drone, or to build or repair one, for their business.
New rules for drones also include not flying at night or over anyone not involved in your operation.
Drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet or leave the operator's sight, and must be under 55 pounds.

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