Over the last month, there has been much discussion online about the growing number of Section 333 exemptions granted by the FAA to allow for safe, legal use of consumer drones for commercial purposes.
While this is tremendous progress from just a year ago, it is important to remember this is a temporary system born from the lack of any real regulation; the exemptions are exactly that- exemptions from a blanket rule that still prohibits commercial drone flights.
Since nothing is set in stone yet, there is still a lot of conjecture flying around* regarding what the rules will actually be and when they will finally be published. One aspect of the rules most of the industry seems to agree on though is that there will be a mandatory license that, while not difficult to obtain, will require you to pass some sort of test.
However, while all this remains speculation Stateside, other countries are beginning to put a licensing program into practice.
Just over a week ago, Nicole Stewart, 23, became not only the first person in South Africa, but the first person on the entire continent of Africa, to receive a drone license. Issued by the South African Civil aviation Authority, the license allows Stewart (who is a testing standards officer at SACAA) to fly for corporate or commercial purposes.
Just a day later, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines granted an SRDP Consulting permission to fly drones commercially, as part of the company’s mapping operations. This marked the first official commercial flight in the Philippines.
SRDP’s drones must all be registered and the operators must undergo a ten day training program to get a license to fly.
In any case, it will probably be another year before there is such a licensing process in the U.S., but that gives the FAA plenty of time to watch how other countries are charging ahead with successful integration of UAVs into national airspace.
*I had to put a quarter in the ‘drone pun jar’ for this one.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com