Saying regulators are stifling innovation, the National Association of Realtors and nearly three dozen other groups have sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration urging the agency to speed up its process for issuing rules that will govern the commercial use of drones.

The groups, which also include NAR affiliate Realtors Land Institute, also urged the FAA to allow limited use of small drones for commercial purposes right away, before a final rule is complete.

“The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines,” the letter said. “The technology is advancing faster than the regulations to govern it.”

Drones have gained popularity in real estate in the past year, but the legalities around their use in commercial situations are far from clear.

NAR and other groups claim that the drone industry will create an estimated 100,000-plus jobs and $82 billion in economic impact during the first decade it is integrated into the FAA’s regulatory framework, giving commercial users boundaries in which to work.

“But with each passing day that commercial integration is delayed, the United States continues to fall behind,” they said.

The letter suggested that community-based safety programming developed for the recreational use of drones could be used as a model to allow the drone industry to establish appropriate safety standards.

“Doing so will allow a portion of the promising commercial sector to begin operating safely and responsibly in the national airspace,” the letter said.

Those who signed onto the letter included a variety of trade groups, including the Air Traffic Control Association, American Soybean Association, the National Press Photographers Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Last month, a judge for the National Transportation Safety Board dismissed all charges and claims against Swiss drone pilot Raphael Pirker, the first person fined by the FAA for the commercial use of a drone.

The judge ruled that “there was no enforceable FAA rule or FAR Regulation applicable to model aircraft or for classifying model aircraft as [unmanned aircraft systems].”

The FAA immediately announced that it would appeal the ruling. The letter acknowledges this and asks the FAA “to simultaneously expedite its public notice and comment for small UAS rulemaking as soon as possible.”

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