retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking to propose rules that would require drone operators "to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls … While the FAA wants to open the skies to unmanned commercial flights, the expected rules are more restrictive than drone supporters sought and wouldn’t address privacy concerns over the use of drones, people familiar with the matter said.

"The agency also plans to group all drones weighing less than 55 pounds under one set of rules. That would dash hopes for looser rules on the smallest drones, such as the 2.8-pound Phantom line of camera-equipped, four-rotor helicopters made by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co. Similar-sized devices are seen as the most commercially viable drones and have surged in popularity in the last two years."

According to the story, "FAA officials expect to announce proposed rules by year-end. The proposal will kick off a public comment period that is likely to flood the agency with feedback. It could take one or two years to issue final rules. In a statement, the FAA said it is working to 'integrate unmanned aircraft into the busiest, most complex airspace system in the world—and to do so while we maintain our mission—protecting the safety of the American people in the air and on the ground. That is why we are taking a staged approach to the integration of these new airspace users'.."

“I feel like there’s a colossal mess coming,” says Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, an advocacy group for drone makers and innovators, including Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. He tells the Journal that he thinks the new rules will be “so divorced from the technology and the aspirations of this industry…that we’re going to see a loud rejection.”
KC's View:
I have no particular opinion about this … except that it seems to me that what seems impossible and unlikely now may become a lot more feasible down the road.