Commercial Droning Regulations to Take Off

drone-1142182_640Along with the huge rise in the commercial use of drones has come the need to regulate this activity. Such laws are about to emerge which will clear the way for a regulated business-related drone flight everywhere in the US, hopefully bringing some order to what some have considered chaos.

The FAA announced its first set of laws which will permit anyone to use drones, as long as they follow the steps and meet the requirements. The first of those will be the acquisition of a remote pilot’s certificate, which can be had by sitting for a written test at an FAA testing center.

Once you’ve received your license to fly, you will need to make sure your drone is under the 55 lb. (25 kg) limit. This covers the vast majority of drones generally in use.

The new rules also limit the maximum altitude an operator can send their drone to under 400 ft. (122 m). Speeds must also be kept under 100 mph (161 kmh) and must always be within seeing distance of the pilot. No night flying with the exception of 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset, but only if your drone is fitted with anti-collision lights. One pilot-one drone: a single operator cannot fly more than one drone at a time, and a drone is never allowed to fly over the heads of people.

The FAA says it is willing to be lenient on some of the rules if the operator can demonstrate that safety will not be compromised. A special on-line portal will be set up for pilots to make their cases for special waivers.

This is a step towards the future of retail drone delivery, but as Matt Sweeney, whose startup Flirtey carried out the first FAA-approved drone delivery exercise last year explains:

“This is to some extent broader than some people in the industry were expecting. But as currently written, you can still not fly over people, you can still not fly beyond the line of sight and you cannot operate more than one drone at a time. And those are really the three key things that are required for the drone delivery industry to emerge at scale.”

McDonald’s Introduces the McFloat for First Time in USA

Grand Chicken Classic burger, fries & McFloat (McDonald's) Photo by  Debbie Tingzon
Grand Chicken Classic burger, fries & McFloat (McDonald’s) Photo by
Debbie Tingzon

A drink that has proved popular in McDonald’s fast-food restaurants around the world, is finally making a debut appearance in a few select stores stateside. The McFloat is a combination of Dr. Pepper and soft-serve ice cream, and it will be selling for $1.99, at least for now, in the McDonald’s in Park Slope, Brooklyn and in San Francisco. The introduction of the McFloat is part of McDonald’s larger exploration into a more direct satisfaction of local tastes, such as offering garlic fries in San Francisco and Chobani Greek yogurt in 800 California branches.

“As part of our journey to build a better McDonald’s, our franchisees have more flexibility than before to offer new menu items like breakfast bowls, Gilroy garlic fries and yes, the Diet Dr. Pepper Float,” McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey.

Across the globe the McFloat has taken on a variety of personas. Most international locations offer a Coke McFloat, but in the Philippines a thirsty customer can get a Green Apple Sprite McFloat. In Indonesia the locals love Iced Coffee McFloats.

McDonald’s is also considering the introduction of fresh beef, and is currently testing this item in 14 of its restaurants. If fresh beef is a hit, McDonald’s, floats or no floats, will never be the same.

New Athletic Director for the Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University has some great new news and it’s come in the form of an athletic director from Hawaii. Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay is going to be the new AD at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Mr. Jay was first hired at UH-Manoa in December of 2012 and then announced his resignation two years later due to personal circumstances. Now, he will be joining the Academy of Art University.

During his tenure with the University of Hawaii, Ben Jay had a record that student-athletes held a GPA better than 3.0 for two consecutive years. There was an increase in the Academic Progress Rate for all sports teams as well.

As Mr. Jay said,

“I am very excited to join the Academy of Art University team as the new Director of Athletics. I want to thank President Elisa Stephens for entrusting me to lead this unique athletic department of 16 Division II sports and the only art institution in the NCAA. We will focus on five areas in the athletic program: the artist-athlete experience, personnel, facilities, resource acquisition, and communication.”

Mr. Jay continued, explaining his plans for the Academy of Art University. As he said, “We want to compete for championships in the PacWest Conference and we will hold ourselves to those standards. I look forward to helping our coaches with what they need to compete for championships.”

US Presses China to Open Up to Foreign Business Investors

US officials expressed their concern over continued regulatory actions in China make it more complicated for foreigners to do business there. They would like to see and easing of barriers to foreign businesses especially a new law targeting non-governmental groups.

Confidence in China has been abating as the government imposes protectionist policies in the wake of government investigations into the activities of foreign companies. China has also limited the use of overseas technology as it implements its draconian national security policies.

US business groups have complained that the new Chinese laws favor domestic firms and make it harder for foreign firms to operate in China. Other laws related to national security are also effecting foreign businesses negatively.

“Concerns about the business climate have grown in recent years, with foreign businesses confronting a more complex regulatory environment and questioning whether they are welcome in China,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Chinese and American businesses and officials.

“Our two governments have a responsibility to foster conditions that facilitate continued and increased investment, trade, and commercial cooperation,” Lew added.

“This means enacting policies that encourage healthy competition, ensuring predictability and transparency in the policy-making and regulatory process, protecting intellectual property rights, and removing discriminatory investment barriers. These policies are vital as China seeks to build on its economic progress in recent decades.”

Zika Virus Taking Bite Out of Puerto Rican Tourism

USA has the right mosquito to transport Zika. Photo by Day Donaldson
USA has the right mosquito to transport Zika. Photo by Day Donaldson

In the USA Zika has hit Puerto Rico harder than anywhere else. Over 1,170 confirmed cases have been reported with one death. The first case of Microcephaly in the US happened on this island off of the southeastern coast of the USA.

Puerto Rico has been suffering from a catastrophic economic crisis in recent years, and tourism is an important source of revenue for the small country and US protectorate. It is impossible to know the exact impact of the virus on tourism, but some observers have surmised that Zika is responsible for the cancellation of at least 42,000 hotel room reservations up until 2018. That is the equivalent of about $28 million in lost revenue for the hotels, restaurants and touring industries, said the executive director of Puerto Rico’s Tourism Company Ingrid Rivera.

People in the industry have seen the problem growing for months, and now it seems to be getting even worse.

“Cancellations left and right and up and down,” said Luis Alvarez Perez, owner of a luxury travel planning and relocation company in San Juan. “People just stopped coming.”

Tourism accounts for about 7 percent of the Puerto Rican economy, but this sector has been growing steadily over the years. A few officials have criticized the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being overly alarming in their recommendations about Puerto Rico. The CDC is predicting that about 20 percent of the 3.5 million population could become infected with Zika, reaching a peak this coming summer.

“They’ve exaggerated the numbers,” Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary Ana Rius told The Associated Press. “We’re never going to reach those numbers.”