The Federal Aviation Administration, behind schedule in finalizing regulations for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems, will be ready by June 17, 2016, according to recent congressional testimony by the agency's deputy administrator.
To inspect the blades of the more than 270,000 wind turbines operating globally, technicians have traditionally relied on binoculars and field scopes from the ground, or have scaled the turbines with the help of ropes or cables. Today, unmanned aerial vehicles are providing a safer option, with the benefit of higher-resolution imaging. Cumulative global revenue for wind turbine UAV sales and inspection services is expected to reach nearly $6bn by 2024, according to a Navigant Research report.
The United States moved closer to legalizing the commercial use of drones in February, when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published proposed regulations. Although some criticized the rules as too restrictive (for example, drones would have to fly only during daylight and within sight of the operator), there is plenty of time for the FAA to change the regulations before they become final, in one to two years.