Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBC), introduced the Micro Drone Safety and Innovation Act, which would alleviate the wait-time issue within the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) exemption process for small businesses to utilize certain low-risk unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“Safety is undoubtedly our main goal as the FAA works to integrate drones into the national airspace. However, granting case-by-case exemptions is simply not the most efficient way for the FAA to keep up with the growing commercial drone industry,” said Vitter. “My bill, the Micro Drone Safety and Innovation Act, will update the FAA’s exemption process so that entrepreneurs can spend less time dealing with bureaucracy and more time growing jobs and their businesses – all within the strictest guidelines to ensure the safety of our communities.”

Vitter’s legislation would establish a micro classification for UAS that weigh up to 4.4 lbs. in order to prioritize safety and also support open innovation. The bill calls for strict safety requirements that fall in line with proposed regulations from the FAA such as requiring operators maintain line of sight, a height restriction of less than 400 feet above the ground, and restricted activity for operation within five miles from any airport. The bill would ensure that U.S. innovation does not lag behind competing countries who have already issued regulations that allow for the safe use of commercial UAS operations.

Earlier today, Vitter hosted an SBC hearing entitled, “Up in the Air: Examining the Commercial Applications of Unmanned Aircraft for Small Businesses.” Committee members, industry experts, and small business owners discussed the importance of prioritizing safety as the FAA develops regulations to integrate UAS into the national airspace while also allowing small businesses to succeed.