WASHINGTON (AP) — There will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them on Monday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate.
The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference.
Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. The agency responded by creating a system to grant exemptions to some of the rules for companies that show they can operate safely, Huerta said.
On the first day the rules were in effect the FAA had already granted 76 exemptions, most of them to companies that want to fly drones at night, Huerta said.
“With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace,” he said.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said people are “captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer.” The few thousand commercial drones that had been granted waivers to operate before Monday have been used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, assist firefighters, film movies, and create real estate and wedding videos, among dozens of other uses.
In general, the new rules apply to drones weighing 55 pounds or less, and require commercial operators to:
—Keep the drone within sight at all times.
—Keep drones from flying over people not involved in their operation.
—Limit drone operations to the hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.
—Limit speed to no more than 100 mph.
—Fly no higher than 400 feet.
Drone operators must also pass a test of their aeronautical knowledge administered by the FAA. More than 3,000 people had registered with the FAA to take the test as of Monday.
The Air Line Pilots Association complained that the new regulations are “missing a key component” because there’s no requirement that drone operators first have an FAA pilot license to fly a plane. The FAA considered requiring drone operators to have manned aircraft pilot licenses, but relented when the drone industry complained that the time and expense involved in obtaining a license, including considerable time practicing flying a plane, would be prohibitive.
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NEW YORK (AP) — Beyonce and Rihanna earned more than awards during Sunday night’s MTV Music Video Awards.
Twitter says the two singers got the most social media buzz during the telecast. They were followed by Kanye West, who gave a typically rambling speech that touched on everything from gun violence in Chicago to his aspiration to become a mogul in the mold of Steve Jobs or Walt Disney.
Drake also was a topic of conversation. The rapper gave a touching tribute and kissed Rihanna while presenting her with MTV’s Video Vanguard Award.
Girl group Fifth Harmony, which won a pair of VMAs, rounds out Twitter’s top five tweeted topics of the show.
PARIS (AP) — A French prosecutor has opened an investigation into suspected racial discrimination after two Muslim women said they were ordered out of a restaurant amid tension over France’s burkinis controversy.
The prosecutor in the Paris suburb of Bobigny says Monday that his case concerns a smartphone video produced by one of the women in Le Cenacle, a restaurant in nearby Tremblay-en-France. French media have widely broadcast the video.
In Saturday’s recording, the owner can be heard blaming all Muslims for recent attacks and saying: “I don’t want people like you in my place. … Get out.”
France’s minister for women’s affairs, Laurence Rossignol, denounced the restaurant owner’s behavior and called for him to face criminal sanctions.
The owner issued an apology Sunday night to all Muslims on BFM television.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has deployed a Russian-made S-300 air defense system around its underground Fordo nuclear facility, state TV reported.
Video footage posted late Sunday on state TV’s website showed trucks arriving at the site and missile launchers being aimed skyward. It did not say whether the system was fully operational.
Gen. Farzad Esmaili, Iran’s head of air defense, declined to comment on the report in an interview with another website affiliated with state news. “Maybe if you go to Fordo now, the system is not there,” he was quoted as saying Monday. He added that the S-300 is a mobile system that should be relocated often.
Russia began delivering the S-300 system to Iran earlier this year under a contract signed in 2007. The delivery had been held up by international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, which were lifted this year under an agreement with world powers.
The Fordo site, built at a depth of 90 meters (300 feet) below a mountain some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the capital, Tehran, was revealed by Western nations in 2009.
Critics of Iran’s nuclear program pointed to Fordo as further proof of Tehran’s intention to secretly develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists it has never sought nuclear arms, and says the security around the site is intended to protect it from U.S. or Israeli airstrikes.
Iran halted nuclear enrichment at Fordo under the nuclear agreement and says the facility is now being used for research and the production of medical isotopes.
In separate comments on Sunday, Esmaili insisted there had been no change in how Iran defends its nuclear facilities, adding that “since they are national achievements of Iran, they must be vigorously protected.”
“We carry out defense exercises in non-nuclear facilities once a month but we do them several times a month in our nuclear facilities,” he added.
On Monday Iran inaugurated a new radar system it says is capable of detecting radar-evading aircraft like the U.S.-made U-2, RQ-4 and MQ-1, state TV reported. It said the Nazir system is located in a remote area and is capable of detecting ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones flying at an altitude of over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).
NEW YORK (AP) — The most decorated Olympian of all time, swimmer Michael Phelps, offered a name to go with his famous Phelps face Sunday night and it’s one word: Future.
Phelps introduced Future at the MTV Video Music Awards, revealing that he was listening to the rapper and singer’s “Stick Talk” when he was photographed grimacing, hood up, headphones on, sitting in a chair near rival Chad le Clos from South Africa before a race at the Rio Olympics.
The moment grew into a trending hashtag (Phelpsface) on Twitter during the games.
Live from Madison Square Garden, Phelps wore, well, clothes, a chill white shirt, black pants and black jacket to fawn over Future before the Atlanta artist performed.
“I was in in the zone with Future’s track ‘Stick Talk’ blaring in my headphones,” Phelps explained of his now-famous grimace. “I might have a lot of golds but this guy’s got a lot of platinum.”
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A $50,000 reward is being offered in the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire in one of America’s most dangerous cities.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Hill Carter was hit in the head by a stray bullet while across the street from her Camden, New Jersey, home Wednesday.
Authorities say gunfire broke out when several men opened fire on an intended target. The men then jumped into a car and fled.
Police announced that the founders of CSMI, LLC, which manages Camden Community Charter School, are paying for Gabby’s funeral expenses. Gabby was about to enter third grade at that charter school.
Surveillance video is still being reviewed. Several entities contributed to the reward that’s for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Gabby’s killer.