Industries Lobby Hard to Fly Their Drones as FAA Decision Looms

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FAA Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to soon publish regulations that have been years in the making on drones flying through American airspace for business or communications purposes.

According to AllGov, industries from farming to television news to retail have spent large sums of money to lobby the FAA, creating what has come to be known as “the little drone lobby.”

“American ingenuity as it applies to drones is not waiting around for a notice and comment period,” David Whitestone, the chair of Holland & Knight, a Washington lobbying firm, told The Hill. “The potential use of drones is only accelerating in the commercial space. It’s accelerating faster than the regulatory process.”

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Unlike the hulking, missile-laden drones used by the military, those developed for commercial use are much smaller. They can be used to help farmers tend to crops, gather footage for news reports and other tasks. There are already a few firms licensed to use drones in the production of movies and television programs.

Amazon has already invested in a fleet of small drones to develop a new way of delivering consumer goods to customers. That’s why the online giant hired lobbying powerhouse Akin Gump and paid the firm at least $120,000 to sway the FAA decision, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That money might not bring the desired results, however. The Wall Street Journal reports that the new rules will impose many restrictions on drones, requiring operators to have a pilot’s license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls.