Drone News: More Interesting Developments

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The subject of UASs seems to have received a disproportionate attention from the press. Such coverage of aviation is good; whether the information is solid or not. Much of the commentary reflects the beat reporters’ relative ignorance of aviation regulation and an inordinate amount of the “content” is best characterized as “rants and raves”. Here, however, is some of “the news which is fit to print” (credit: New York Times ):

I. FAA Wants Local Cops to Be Drone Police As noted before, the FAA’s geographic jurisdiction is immense and given the explosive growth of the UAS fleet, it may well be beyond its manpower limitations. Here, Mark Bury, FAA’s Assistant Chief Counsel, International, Legislation and Regulation, said to a meeting of States Attorneys General :

“We’re hoping that moving forward we’ll be able to enlist the assistance of local law enforcement in gathering information about operations of unmanned aircraft that violate our regulations,” said Bury, the FAA’s assistant chief counsel for regulations, during a panel discussion.” We simply don’t have the manpower,” he said.

That’s a big request of local law enforcement officials who are already overburdened with crime in their jurisdictions and who are unlikely lacking in the knowledge (is that UAS @ 450’?) to effectively assist the FAA

II. Drone policy improving — but we have a ways to go Former FAA Administrator, now AIA President & CEO and soon to be Rolls Royce President & CEO, commented positively on the promulgation of the sUAS NPRM (“good news”, “an important first step” and “a key element”). The real message is not so positive:

“Now the FAA needs to submit a plan for full UAS integration into the national airspace, which the law requires by this fall. Left undone is the promulgation of proposed regulations for UAS operations beyond line of sight and at higher altitudes where most manned aircraft fly. To help move this process along, Congress should require that the FAA identify the research and operational data it requires for beyond line of sight integration of UAS in the national airspace. The FAA also needs to create a test and evaluation master plan to better utilize the six UAS test ranges that have been established, with the number and types of flight tests required, and show how this information will be used in the standards setting process, and under what planned schedule. Congress should also help the agency delineate a core role for the FAA Technical Center as the hub of UAS research data and analysis.”

This is not a new theme from AIA; the Members’ primarily offer for sale the larger UAS vehicles. That group is also a likely source to find the critical “sense and avoid” technology.

III. How can France stop the attack of the drones? Paris Drone Flights – Al-Jazeera Journalists ArrestedPerhaps the response to the AIA lament about the absence of rules for large UAS vehicles is found in these two articles from France. The FAA’s prioritization in issuing the sUAS rules first was based on a risk analysis that the smaller vehicles were less likely to inflict damage as measured in several dimensions. For days Parisians were, maybe still are, terrified about mysterious drones flying over their city for unknown purposes. Hopefully the FAA’s gestation period of the full UAS NPRM will be long enough to create some technology which will minimize such risks.

News such as these articles helps define the path of the UAS regulation development and the commerce associated with this new regulated industry.

If you see a news item which fills these criteria, please include your suggestion in the COMMENT box below. Thanks

Acronyms used in this article (in order):

UAS: Unmanned Aerial System

FAA: Federal Aviation Association

AIA: Aerospace Industries Association

CEO: Chief Executive Officer

sUAS: Small Unmanned Aerial System

NPRM: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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