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The FAA's commercial UAV rules are now in effect

Starting today, pilots will need a government-issued certificate to fly.
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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Look alive, stateside drone pilots: the Federal Aviation Administration's initial set of operational rules for commercial UAV flights officially goes into effect today. Those rules were finalized back in June and govern any unmanned UAV under 55 pounds that is flown for "non-hobbyist purposes."

As a quick refresher, drones that meet those qualifications can only operate during daylight hours (until dusk if the drone is equipped with warning lights) and must fly within the pilot's line of sight. Commercial drone pilots are also required to be at least 16 years old and will need to pass an Aeronautical Knowledge Test at a certified testing center before they can get their remote pilot certificate. Fully automated flights like the Amazon's planned delivery service or automated surveying devices are still not allowed.

Drones are also now subject to strict height limits and prohibited from flying over people, but the FAA will allow for exceptions to any of these rules if the pilot has been granted an official waiver. According to the FAA, the Administration has already issued 70 waivers right off the bat, the majority of them for night flights. Keep in mind, however, that the turnaround time for those waivers will depend on the complexity of your request and whatever backlog of waiver applications the FAA is currently sitting on.

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