US proposes to allow drone operation at night, over people

The Trump administration last week proposed rules that would allow drones to operate over populated areas and end a requirement for special permits for night use, long-awaited actions that are expected to help speed commercial use of small unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States.
The proposals, drafted by the Federal Aviation Administration of the US Transportation Department, come amid concerns about dangers that drones potentially pose to aircraft and populated areas.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the department was aware of drone safety issues.
“The department is keenly aware that there are legitimate public concerns about drones, concerning safety, security and privacy,” Chao said at a speech in Washington.
Two London airports have been disrupted by drone sightings in recent weeks and the British government is considering toughening laws that ban the use of drones near airports.
Alphabet Inc and Amazon.com Inc are among a growing number of companies hoping to make package delivery by drones a reality.
The FAA said that in developing the proposals its challenge was to “balance the need to mitigate the risk small unmanned aircraft pose to other aircraft and to people and property on the ground without inhibiting innovation.”
Chao noted there are nearly 1.3 million registered drones in this country and more than 116,000 registered drone operators.
The FAA is proposing ending requirements that drone operators get waivers to operate at night. Through 2017, the FAA granted 1,233 waivers and “has not received any reports of (drone) accidents,” it said. — Reuters