Local Drone Pilot Reacts To FAA Proposed Regulations

Sorry, this video is no longer available

Industries across the country are one step closer to flying unmanned commercial drones, thanks to a proposed set of rules announced by the Federal Aviation Administration Sunday.

Flying small unmanned commercial drones is currently banned and for months dozens of industries, including Sioux Falls Tower and Communications, have been pushing for permission to fly. Saturday, those industries got a glimpse of hope.

To most people, the sky is the limit. But right now, the nation’s skies are pretty limited when it comes to drones

“A farmer who has a drone, if he flies it to check out his crops right now, that’s a commercial purpose and he can’t do it,” said Sioux Falls Tower & Communications Director of Safety and Training Todd Thorin. “A real estate agent obviously can’t do it because it’s a commercial purpose.”

Industries big and small have been waiting for the opportunity to watch small, unmanned commercial drones soar across the sky. But the FAA’s proposal for commercial drones, 55 pounds or lighter, is giving many, including Sioux Falls’ Todd Thorin, hope.

“All of the sudden over the weekend, this pops up and it’s a big surprise to me and probably a lot of other people,” said Thorin. “It’s hopeful, it looks good.”

Flying during daylight hours, staying five miles away from the nearest airport and keeping constant visual contact with the drone are just a few of the regulations pilots would have to abide by. And Thorin says the proposed regulations are very doable.

“My first reaction is to be a little skeptical or a little worried actually that it was going to be restrictive,” said Thorin. “But then I looked over it and saw that it was pretty alright.”

Thorin says when the proposed set of rules is implemented, it’ll open up the floodgates to the entire small drone industry.

“The world I live in, like the tower world for example, it opens up the door for me to use it with whatever I want to do with it on a tower site — inspecting a tower, doing whatever, or making cool videos,” said Thorin.

And he says with small, commercial drones flying high in the sky, the possibilities are unlimited.

“Whatever people can see, they can achieve,” said Thorin. “You can think of all kinds of stuff to do with these things.”

Thorin says before the proposed rules were unveiled, the FAA put military-sized, small, and micro-drones on the same level. And Thorin says the weekend’s big announcement now looks at each as their own class of aircraft.

Thorin says it’ll be another year or two until the rules are put into effect, but he says it’s something worth waiting for.