FAA rules on commercial use of unmanned aerial systems will be on the books within a year, officials told a Congressional panel Wednesday. But it remains to be seen whether the pending regulations will meet the timeline and the needs of companies like Amazon, which wants to offer consumers 30-minute package deliveries with drones. According to a Reuters report on Wednesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, “the rule will be in place within a year," FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker testified. The FAA’s initial proposal, announced in February, called for restrictions such as line-of-sight operation in daylight hours, but the agency has since been working with various industries to explore broader operating rules. Waivers from the FAA have allowed businesses to test and use drones on a limited basis before the rulemaking process began.
Amazon’s Paul Misener, who has been at the forefront of the public debate over business-friendly regulations for drones, told the committee his company will have the ability to offer quick deliveries via UAS by the time a final rule comes out, Reuters reported. “We'd like to begin delivering to our customers as soon as it's approved," he testified. ”We will have it (the technology) in place by the time any regulations are ready. We are working very quickly." Responses from lawmakers over more open use of drones were mixed, according to an Associated Press report on the hearing. Rep. John Mica of Florida put forth a fatalistic view. "There will be an incident. There will be a crash. There will be probably fatalities because you have so many of these things flying," he said in the AP report. "I hope it doesn't take down a big commercial aircraft. I hope it doesn't have a lot of fatalities but I think it's inevitable."