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New guidelines proposed for commercial drones

You may have seen them: small radio-controlled drones with cameras high in the sky capturing video of an event.

Now the unmanned aircraft are becoming less expensive and easily available for the typical consumer.

But are there guidelines?

The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing some rules that some say are needed others say it’s too much.

The video is familiar to many- aerial shots getting a birds-eye view of the world below.

“In the summer of 2014 is when I really started flying the drone,” Jackson Polk said.

Polk is local documentarian. He’s used his drone to capture video of the Asarco demolition and the Missions along the Rio Grande..

“The shots that you can get from these is spectacular,” said Polk.

Polk tells ABC-7 it’s a great tool for filmmaking but it has its share of problems.

“There needs to be some sort of rules with this stuff,” said Polk.

Recently the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have proposed some guidelines.

The operator would have to pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain a certificate and have to retake the test every 24 months.

The operator would have to be at least 17 years old and the operator would also have to keep the radio controlled aircraft within line of sight.

“Having to obtain and get a certificate might be a good idea because you will weed out the people that aren’t really serious about this,” Polk said.

“I think that at the minimum they need to have ground school so that they understand the rules and regulations of flight,” said Alan Surratt.

Surratt is the owner of Surratt Aviation, a flight school.

Surratt says unregulated drones are a huge concern to pilots.

“Fear. 100 percent fear because it’s very dangerous when we have those drones flying when we are in the air,” said Surratt.

Surratt tells ABC-7 small planes in the area can fly about 1,500 feet high.

Some drones can fly as high as 2,000 feet.

Surratt shows ABC-7 a couple of pictures of the damage birds can do.

He tells ABC-7 the damage would be worse if it was a drone.

“This is an accident getting ready to happen and how soon are they going to react on this? Is it going to be an accident or this story,” said Surratt.

The Federal Aviation Administration says right now they are just bringing guidelines to the table.

They are having talks with drone operator groups.

The FAA says it can have the new guidelines in the law books by 2016.

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