Larger or riskier drones that could cause serious injury — as determined by yet-to-be-implemented crash tests — up to 55 pounds could not be flown over crowds, and would have more limitations. Finally, the fourth group of drones that also pose a potentially serious risk but are intended to be used over crowds would have the most rules, with documented plans for risk mitigation, higher operator qualifications, and possibly coordination with the FAA or local law enforcement. Most of the committee members felt like a requirement for in-person testing would be ignored, suggesting online testing with no background checks for operators of the smallest drones.
DJI VP Brendan Schulman called the recommendation a “progressive approach,” that balanced the benefits of drones and public safety. His company was one of 27 groups (like 3DRobotics, GoPro, Google X, Intel and AT&T) that participated in the Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and the FAA will use its information to develop new rules. Unfortunately, this will not be a part of the finalized small UAS rule (governing commercial use of drones under 55 pounds) that we are expecting to see in June. In the meantime you can read the full report for yourself (PDF) and practice some safe drone flying away from innocent bystanders.