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FAA regulations seek to reduce aviation accident risk

Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles were the subject of a posting last month in which we discussed their increased popularity amid concerns from pilots of conventional aircraft and government officials about the role they could play in causing an aviation accident. Since that posting, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued proposed regulations on their commercial use.

The new federal rules would limit the speed of drones to 100 mph or less. Drones would not be permitted to fly above 500 feet, and they could weight no more than 55 pounds. 

A key safety concern has been drones operating far away from the person operating their controls. Under the new regulations, aircraft operations would be limited to daytime hours and within the line of sight of the person manning the controls. A written test approved by the FAA and a minimum age of 17 would be part of the regulations in an effort to cut down on pilot error associated with the operation of drones and other such aircraft.

The operation of drones has not been the subject of local regulations in Dallas or other communities within the Texas. Other than a law prohibiting drones from being used to conduct surveillance of private citizens and their property, Texas has not taken any measures to restrict unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft.

Dangerous weather conditions, pilot error, an aircraft maintenance issue or unpredictable terrain are factors commonly associated with a helicopter crash or an aviation accident. The use of drones in commercial operations such as construction, landscaping and real estate sales where aerial photography could be beneficial adds another hazard that could contribute to a fatal aviation accident.

Accident injuries resulting from the negligence of people using drones for noncommercial purposes, although not subject to the proposed FAA regulations, might still entitle the injured party to collect compensation from the responsible party. A Dallas personal injury attorney might be of assistance in pursuing a claim for compensation.

Source: KSAT, "FAA releases proposed rules for commercial drones," Tim Gerber, Feb. 16, 2015

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