FAA wants small drone rules favorable to commercial operators, citing economic benefits

Economic Indicators Associated Press

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, the Aerialtronics Altura Zenith drone is seen at an event at the National Press Club in Washington. An economic analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration indicates the agency, citing economic and safety ... benefits, is seeking regulations largely favorable to companies that want to use small drones. The analysis, which was posted online, describes draft rules that would clear the way for widespread use of small drones for all manner of chores, including aerial photography, crop monitoring, and inspections of cellular towers, bridges and other tall structures. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (The Associated Press)

A government analysis of the economic and safety impact of small commercial drones appears to clear the way for proposed federal rules that would favor companies wanting to use the unmanned aircraft.

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The Federal Aviation Administration's analysis describes draft rules that would open the door to widespread use of small drones for all kinds of uses — aerial photography, crop monitoring, inspections of cellular towers, bridges and other structures.

The document indicates the FAA has dropped its insistence that drone operators have the same licenses as required for pilots of manned aircraft. Industry officials complained that obtaining a private pilot license would be unnecessarily burdensome.

In October, the FAA submitted a proposal to the White House for small drone regulations. The rules are expected to be released any time.