Now what? 2016 or beyond?


What could be more insane than putting off action on regulating UAVs in the US? Putting it off even longer!

From energy to the economy, this US Congress has never meet a problem it couldn’t make worse. Note the last paragraph below where the goal post has now been moved into 2016. At the rate of 10,000+ UAV’s being sold every month it makes no sense at all to put off meaningful regulation for yet another year beyond the hoped-for 2015 goal… or November of 2014 for those of us who have maintained that delusion… But somehow letting another 150,000 UAVs accumulate unregulated in the airspace each year before taking any steps to manage the issue seems like a good idea to these people.

(Page 17, Congressional Appropriations Committee Report – DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION, AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2015 (PDF) (Bold added below for emphasis)

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

 

—The FAA Modernization and  Reform Act of 2012 directed the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System by 2015. However, it is uncertain when the FAA can integrate UAS into the Nation’s airspace and what will be required to achieve the goal. The lack of an overall framework for the new systems may be inhibiting progress on UAS integration. The Committee is concerned that the FAA may not be well positioned to manage effectively the introduction of UAS in the United States, particularly in light of a recent ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative judge regarding the use of a small UAS for commercial purposes. Given these challenges, the Committee has provided an additional $3,000,000 in the Aviation Safety Activity to expedite the integration of UAS into commercial airspace.

 

UAS budgeting

 

.—The Committee understands that UAS have very different operating characteristics, communications and flight planning system requirements than traditional air traffic operations. However, the resource requirements for integrating UAS into airspace and the corresponding impacts on the FAA’s capital and operating budgets remains unclear. The Committee directs the FAA to develop an integrated budget for UAS in the fiscal year 2016 budget request that clearly identifies research and development needs and the requirements for air traffic control systems and operations.

“…may not be well positioned to manage effectively the introduction of UAS…”  (Seriously?) As if it’s going to be made any better by continuing the chaos until 2016? Their cure for a lack of action is further lack of action and throwing money at it? What are these people smoking up there in D.C.?

“The lack of an overall framework for the new systems may be inhibiting progress on UAS integration.” NO KIDDING!!!

Meanwhile Canada and Australia are at least addressing the “overall framework” issue in a logical manner and with appropriate urgency.

Here’s a little free “research and development” – It’s like walking: just take one step at a time:

  • First: Registration – Set up (online) registration for UAV operators to create a structure for administering future regulation
  • Second: Promulgate EXISTING safety guidelines to all registered users.That addresses “public safety”.
  • Third: Allow limited commercial use for those operators who meet minimum qualifications. This could be as simple as passing a basic safety online test using the existing online testing structure that the FAA uses for pilot testing and qualification. That also addresses “public safety” like the test for a driver’s license – assuring basic “rules of the road” competence.
  • Fourth: Require minimal liability insurance coverage for commercial use and operation. Again, addressing “public safety”.

The logical place to start is at the beginning:.

  • Rule 1: Operators are restricted to 100 ft until registered.(provides motivation for registration), Again: “public safety”.
  • Rule 2: Limited commercial use when registered.

Then you build from there. Local laws can follow suit. The FAA and Congress  can only make the situation worse and more urgent the longer they delay taking logical steps to addressing it.

From AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano:

“These [UAV] industries represent the examples of the commercial potential that we highlighted in our economic report last year. The report found that in the first decade following integration, the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact. However, each day that integration is delayed will lead to $27 million in lost economic impact. The FAA should begin utilizing its authority under Section 333* of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to allow for limited commercial operations now.”

Amen, brother!

* (1) a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems that will allow for civil operation of such systems in the national airspace system, to the extent the systems do not meet the requirements for expedited operational authorization under section 333 of this Act;

SEC. 333. SPECIAL RULES FOR CERTAIN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.
(a) IN GENERAL
.—Notwithstanding any other requirement of this subtitle, and not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall determine if certain unmanned aircraft systems may operate safely in the national airspace system before completion of the plan and rulemaking required by section 332 of this Act or the guidance required by section 334 of this Act.

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