The Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations, better known as the “Part 107 Regulations,” impose strict guidelines for the operation of drones in the United States. Among these regulations, for example, are requirements that drones be operated only within the unaided line of sight of a designated visual observer, and prohibiting the flight of drones over people not directly participating in their operation.
On May 27, 2020, however, the FAA issued a first-of-its kind Part 107 waiver to Novant Health, Inc. in partnership with Zipline, a leading drone logistics company. The waiver lifts the usual visual line of sight and overhead requirements, thus permitting the companies to use long-distance drone flights to deliver personal protective equipment and medical supplies to healthcare facilities and workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.
While the FAA’s waiver is narrow in scope, it marks an important development in drone regulation, and one that, if successful, could certainly pave the way for the wide-scale implementation of drones in the logistics industry.