The FAA is “exceptional”…

  • The FAA is concerned about safety in the NAS (National Airspace) and they want everybody to obey the rules….except they haven’t really MADE any rules yet.
  • The FAA wants UAV pilots to be trained to fly…  except they have told schools and colleges that they can’t actually do any flying while they’re teaching and training people how to fly UAVs.
  • The FAA wants UAV pilots to pass an FAA test, and it says so in several of its UAV publications… except so far they have not come up with an actual license test, which could have been easily accomplished within the existing online testing structure in a matter of hours. (Explain the application for VOR navigation for unmanned aircraft?)
  • The FAA says using UAVs for professional purposes (commercial) is not allowed… except TV Guide, The Travel Channel and HGTV are clearly using “drone video” on a regular basis, but apparently the FAA is not sending notices to those companies, just real estate companies and rescue teams.
  • The FAA has begun issuing licenses for UAVs… except none of the smaller products (DJI, Parrots, etc.) have been reviewed for “type approval”. And those few licenses have been issued to big oil companies.

So, except for telling us how “busy” the FAA has been, getting things ready….. exactly what HAS the FAA been doing since 2012?

The FAA expects everyone to be trained and licensed to fly “approved” aircraft … with no “official” rules even up for public review, no FAA test, no practical training allowed, no type approvals for craft… All of this is supposed to make the NAS more safe?

And please explain again why a business professional with thousands invested and no logical reason to go above 400 feet is going to be “reckless” but a kid with a $200 toy who is competing (on FlyTrex) to see how high and far they can go is of no concern to the FAA with regard to safety of the NAS?

Hey, there’s no real estate to photograph at 10,000 feet.

The FAA tried to stop EquiSearch from using unmanned vehicles in search and rescue, except a court threw out the FAA’s case just as they did with the earlier case. It’s exceptionally hard to enforce rules that don’t actually exist. And a recent successful rescue adds weight to the argument for allowing UAVs to be used for that purpose.

Those who do not want any rules are free to do as they wish, but those responsible enough to see the need for regulations and safety…. are grounded.  It’s not like the professional UAV operators want to avoid doing whatever it takes to operate “legally”. In fact, this appears to be the only industry in history actually BEGGING for regulations. HUH?

What are the real forces behind this delay? Is it the military manufacturers? To what end? Do the DOD suppliers actually think a real estate photographer or farmer or surveyor or rescue team is going to be in the market for their $150,000+ military-grade products? The president can issue orders regulating “privacy” for unmanned aircraft in a matter of hours while the FAA takes years to come up with… a promise that it will take even more years to come up with anything at all? With thousands of RC aircraft being sold every week is the FAA so deluded that they think things will get better in that time? Are they waiting for a really serious accident? If they don’t start issuing licenses and allowing training, it certainly will happen. It’s only a matter of time, and the delay by the FAA will be partly to blame.

Here is what the FAA needs to do now, and there is no logical argument why they can’t.

  • There are now “test” facilities. So TEST…and certify the aircraft types that are actually being used – the DJIs, the Parrots and the others.
  • There are schools ready to train… so approve COA’s to let them teach new pilots how to fly safely.
  • The FAA has a bank of aviation test questions… so simply select those that relate to sUAV operation and create a written test for UAV pilots.
  • There are CFI’s who can do the job, so let them certify UAV pilots.
  • The FAA is concerned about safety… so make a list of safety procedures and let the UAV dealers send them out to everybody who buys their products. No time or too hard? Then just ask the AMA, RPACA or AUVSI to do it. (There’s a good example on this web site – Southern Helicam Safety Procedures) If insurance is necessary, then require it. If experience is necessary, then set the standards.

And we keep hearing how Congress is “all about” new jobs… so why is Congress silent when it comes to pushing the FAA to do what Congress told them to do back in 2012? So why has Congress apparently sat silent while all their deadlines have been missed?

The FAA may be afraid of getting it wrong… but waiting this long is clearly not the right thing to do. Do we need to remind the FAA of what happened when the FCC failed to figure out CB radios?