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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 13, 2015.
Commercial UAS Modernization Act
This bill amends the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to permit a person to operate a small commercial unmanned aircraft (drone) without an airworthiness certificate within the United States for the period beginning on enactment of this Act and ending on the effective date of a final rule based on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking "Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems" dated February 23, 2015, subject to the following conditions and restrictions:
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must receive proof that the drone owner has liability insurance for the drone; the owner must register the drone; the operator must pass a test developed to assess initial aeronautical knowledge and a proficiency test administered by a drone test site; and the operator must demonstrate the ability to fly the drone in accordance with certain operating restrictions concerning visibility, time of day, air traffic control, airspace, preflight inspection, and operator health. A drone may not be operated until the operator of a test site certifies that it meets the requirements in the rulemaking notice and can operate within the restrictions.
The owner or operator of a drone involved in an accident causing personal injury or property damage must report it to the FAA within two days after the accident.
The FAA shall:
appoint a Deputy Associate Administrator for Unmanned Aircraft, establish a joint aircraft system research and development data collection and analysis program at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, and implement an air traffic management pilot program to research and test a new regulatory structure for drone operations in airspace below 1,200 feet.