The House and Senate conferees on a must-pass extension of the FAA Act included policy changes strongly supported by the commercial explosives industry. The legislation directs FAA to create new processes to prohibit or restrict unauthorized operation of unmanned aircraft over critical infrastructure, which includes explosives manufacturing, energy/mining production, and the like.
Additionally, the agreement includes provisions setting up a process allowing commercial applicants to operate drones beyond the visual line of sight during day or night if necessary in order to perform enumerated tasks such as ensuring compliance with regulatory, permit or other requirements; inspecting, repairing, maintaining, or protecting covered facilities; or usage in response to or in preparation for a natural or manmade disaster that may cause damage to a covered facility. Covered facility includes any critical infrastructure facility. The extension is expected to be approved by both chambers before Congress recesses next week.