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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The new rules for small business drone use take effect today.

Before now commercial drone operators had to go through the lengthy process of getting a waiver from the federal government to operate.

To put it plainly, Commercial Drone Alliance spokeswoman Lisa Ellman says, “For the first time ever commercial drones will be broadly authorized here in the U.S.”

Brian Wynne, President and CEO of Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, says the new rules focusing on commercial use of drones that weigh less than 55 pounds will have a big impact. “Many, many industries want to utilize these. Whether it’s real estate agents, or insurance companies in a [Hurricane] Sandy-type event, or construction companies that take surveys.”

The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules allow commercial drones to fly up to 400 feet in altitude, if it remains in the visual sight of a human operator. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can’t go faster than 100 miles per hour and can only operate during the daytime, by an operator that has qualified for a flying certificate and passed a written test.

FAA official say the new rules are “designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground.”

Waivers are being offered for operators who can prove their proposed flight will be conducted safely. Joe Mora, with the FAA, says an example is a waiver that allows drone operation at night. “We’ve heard, especially from the agricultural world, that thermal sensors and everything else… there’s optimization of using certain things at night.”

According to the FAA, the new rules could generate more than $82 billion for the economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

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