House committee passes micro drone amendment

February 17, 2016 01:30

RTDNA has been on the front lines of the debate over drone regulations, working to enable newsrooms across the country to use the emerging technology for newsgathering. In a letter to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio earlier this month, RTDNA, along with the National Press Photographers Association and the National Newspaper Association, urged the committee to include an amendment to the AIRR Act (H.R. 4441) creating a micro-drone classification, which the committee has now passed.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) would create a category of drones under 4.4 pounds, which would exempt operators from testing requirements of aeronautical knowledge, age limits and airworthiness certifications. The goal is to allow users such as news operations to use small drones for newsgathering without the licensing requirements currently required by the FAA. If passed into law, the provision would allow newsrooms to begin deploying drones more quickly.

Newsrooms would still have to register their drones with the FAA and follow the proposed operating requirements including limits on altitude and airspeed, flying within the visual line of sight of the operator, during daylight hours and at least five miles from airports without prior approval. Currently, use of any drones by newsrooms require a specific exemption from the FAA.

The amendment was approved by a voice vote and the AIRR Act passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It now moves to the full House, and RTDNA will support its adoption in the Senate version of the bill.