What is the DoT IG doing issuing its own video on the FAA’s UAS rules and enforcement?

FAA’s UAS rules video safe drone operation
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The US Department of Transportation has an Inspector General. Unlike the rest of the Department, which derives its statutory authority from 49 USC §101, et seq., the OIG’s powers, as all Inspector Generals, are found at 5 USC §6 et.seq. That section enumerates the specific powers which an IG may exercise; the relevant subsections are as follows:

a) In addition to the authority otherwise provided by this Act, each Inspector General, in carrying out the provisions of this Act, is authorized—

(1) to have access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, or other material…

(2) to make such investigations and reports relating to the administration of the programs and operations of the applicable establishment…

(3) to request such information or assistance as may be necessary for carrying out the duties and…

(4) to require by subpoena the production of all information, documents, reports, answers, records, accounts, papers, and other data…

(5) to administer to or take from any person an oath, affirmation, or affidavit, whenever necessary in the performance of the functions assigned by this Act…

(e)

(1) In addition to the authority otherwise provided by this Act, each Inspector General, any Assistant Inspector General for Investigations under such an Inspector General, and any special agent supervised by such an Assistant Inspector General may be authorized by the Attorney General to—

(A) carry a firearm…

(B) make an arrest without a warrant…and

(C) seek and execute warrants for arrest, search of a premises, or seizure…

There are a few things every drone operator should know before taking flight. Learn the basic do's and don'ts and find out how to report suspected illegal drone operations to the DOT Office of Inspector General.

Above is a video issued by the US DoT; none of the sections, cited above, seem to authorize the issuance of instructional videos which describe the regulations of a DoT modal administration. The FAA’s exclusive authority is the safety of flight and the management of the national airspace. Drones constitute one of the most challenging rules which the FAA must promulgate and enforce.

Later in the video, the OIG solicits contacts or calls from the public about the enforcement of the UAS rules; here is a slide from that OIG presentation:

FAA’s UAS rules video safe drone operation

The enforcement of these rules are complex and developing over time. It is difficult for the FAA to attain consistency over the US. Creating the impression that there is another federal agency available for reference on these issues creates potential conflicts in interpretation of the UAS rules.

The last screen is an open invitation to the public to come to the OIG for assistance in enforcement. Again such redundancy may help create confusion as to the proper standard. Duplication is a source of federal waste; the OIG polices such issues. It should have known better.

The OIG has considerable contact with local Law Enforcement Offices and this relationship may be extended by this video. The FAA has already reached out to LEOs with specific requests for assistance. Now, it is now more likely that a local police force which has worked with the OIG will refer future drone issues with this familiar office.

The statutory job of the OIG is to oversee agencies within its jurisdiction. While the staff may become more knowledgeable on the policy and rules of the FAA, that familiarity should not empower the OIG to subplant the exclusive aviation safety authority.

The OIG frequently and properly issues repports which find fault with the FAA. If there was an uber OIG, it might well find fault with the DoT OIG for what appear to be redundant and unnecessary actions.

 

ARTICLE: Safe Drone Operation

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