FAA moves to regulate and thus destroy drone use


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We’re here to help you: The FAA is considering a new rule to require a pilot’s license in order to operate a private drone, even drones more akin to model airplanes.

The proposed rules would require that a drone owner would have to get certified as a pilot, “certification that can cost $10,000 and demand many hours flying aircraft that control nothing like a little drone.”

“Knowing the proper flap setting on a short runway approach for a Cessna 172 doesn’t do any good for a DJI Phantom [an inexpensive and popular commercial drone],” said Matt Waite, a University of Nebraska professor and founder of the Drone Journalism Lab. “A lot of people out there already running businesses in conflict with FAA policy, who don’t have pilot licenses, are probably looking at this like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”

Gee, here we have a new industry that is growing and prosperous, with many people coming up with creative ideas for using drones that none of its inventors ever dreamed of, and the government wants to step in and control it, regulating it to a point where it can’t even exist legally. Isn’t that nice of them?

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3 comments

  • Tom Billings

    This seems to be an issue of preemption. The FAA hierarchs sense, quite correctly, that the massive use of drone delivery and observation tech in civilian hands will explode into a situation where the FAA *cannot* control who gets to fly with any effectiveness. They are twitchy enough about the military being outside their control.

    Once enough people are profiting from civilian use of drones, they will constantly be pushed to expand the legal envelope, especially payload weight, at a rate that pushes the tech to passenger weights far sooner than otherwise. Drone crashes from flights below 500 feet at a mass of 10 kilos can be survived by the present hierarchy. Drones crashing with a mass of 200 kilos cannot, and would cause a huge transformation/obliteration of the FAA, probably including “early retirement” for many upper level hierarchs.

    Thus, preemption. Drone issues merge with “aircar” issues above 200 kilos mass, because once a 100 kilo payload is possible, you can bet people will find a way to ride them. That concept has been a bete noir for 50 years at the FAA. I look for hierarchs tweaking the obsessing about “corporate drone spying” higher to gain a political advantage here.

  • Mitch S.

    FAA probably feeling pressured to react to the drone hysteria already out there.
    “Drones spotted by pilots at JFK”, “”Drone flying near tennis match”, “Drone flying outside girl’s bathroom”.
    To the press and public everything is a “drone”, from a Global Hawk to the toy quadcopter at the mall kiosk.
    And we know drones kill – look at what we’re doing in Yemen…

    In reality most of these “drones” are no bigger than the model airplanes and helicopters that have been around for decades. The same rules should apply.

  • Peterh

    Idiots and jerks have already amply demonstrated thatsome kind of regulation is needed. But there’s plenty of room to prohibit conduct that presents an undue hazard without getting in the way of reasonable business.

    Though some of us suspect an objective to regime actions beyond preventing flight dangerous to the public.

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