The FAA says it plans to release the draft rules on Sunday. The rules have been in the works for years and were submitted to the White House budget office in October for review. They were revealed ahead of schedule Saturday when the economic analysis describing them was posted online by mistake.
The document indicates the agency has dropped its insistence that drone operators have the same licenses and medical certificates required for pilots of manned aircraft. Industry officials complained that obtaining a private pilot license or medical certificate would be unnecessarily burdensome.
Commercial operators would have to take an aerospace knowledge test administered by the FAA before they could receive a certificate granting permission to operate a drone. The agency estimates the cost to operators of obtaining certificate at about $300.
Operators would have to keep drone flights below 500 feet in altitude, which is lower than most manned aircraft fly. That’s 100 feet higher than the agency typically has approved in waivers to commercial operators.