Drones now open to commercial use

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- Until now, it has been next to impossible for a company to get clearance to fly a drone, but starting August 29, 2016, the process got much easier.

It used to be that only licensed pilots could get a waiver to fly a commercial drone. But due to recent changes, all that's required is a little bit of knowledge, a quick test and a background check.

“(You can do it) within a week if you go through the process the right way," said Warren Rapp, Director of Business Development at the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovations Center at the University of Nevada.

FAA Rule 107 went into effect Monday. It lays out the regulations companies must abide by if they want to fly.

"Today's regulations are based on input they have received over the last three years on how to best incorporated under-55-pound UAVs into the national airspace," said Rapp.

Instead of getting a pilot’s license, commercial drone pilots will now need a TSA background check and a "remotely piloted aircraft certificate".

"It should be very much like going to get your driver’s license, except there is no practical. You don't have to fly the drone to prove that you can do it," said Susan Welsch who is also with NAASIC.

The change in the law opens the floodgates to potential new uses for drones. We'll see search and rescue, cinematography and wildlife management, to name a few.

"This is going to create a lot of new businesses for using drones for commercial purposes," said Welsch.

Drone flight won't be a free-for-all. Because of the danger drones pose to aircraft, there are certain airspaces where their use will be restricted. For instance, within five miles of any of our airport or helipads, businesses will have to request an airspace authorization from the FAA.