Listen Up Drone Operators: FAA Has 7 Myths To Bust

Mar 3 2014, 5:10pm CST | by

I wish I could be more optimistic that the FAA’s latest public information campaign – Busting Myths About the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft  – would make a difference in the exponential and unregulated growth of the commercial drone industry.  But sometimes the genie just can’t be put back in the bottle.  Or, in this case, the commercial use of drones stopped while a government agency goes through the slow, deliberative process of rule-making. I, for one, believe that the commercial drone industry is growing at a rate that greatly exceeds the FAA’s current pace of regulation or enforcement capability.  And I’m concerned about it.  Integration of manned and unmanned aircraft needs some regulation to ensure the safety both of the flying public and those firmly on the ground.

While media reports list sales of some drones in the tens of thousands, and commercial use of drones especially for aerial photography is openly touted on commercial websites, the FAA’s regulatory process is still in its research and review phase.  After all, the FAA only selected its six drone test sites barely two months ago.  A selection process that in itself took more than ten months of study.  At this rate, any meaningful regulation is years and years away.

But in the meanwhile – if you fly, or plan to fly, unmanned aircraft commercially, the FAA has seven myths it wants to bust.  Here is a summary of the points the FAA wants would-be commercial drone operators to know:

  1. FAA does control all the airspace from the ground up, including airspace below 400 feet.
  2. Commercial UAS flights are not ok over private property even if below 400 feet.  Commercial operation of drones requires a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval.
  3. Commercial operation of drones is not a gray area of FAA regulations.  All aircraft – manned or unmanned – must have some type of FAA approval.  (Model aircraft flown as a hobby or for recreational purposes are excepted but must be operated in accordance with model aircraft guidelines and away from populated areas.)
  4. The FAA has a number of enforcement tools to stop unauthorized commercial drone operations and it does not believe there are too many operations for it to stop.
  5. Commercial UAS operations will not be ok after September 30, 2015 – unless the FAA issues appropriate regulations.  The FAA states that it expects to publish a proposed rule for small drones – those under 55 pounds – later this year which is likely to include provisions for commercial operations.
  6. The FAA disputes that it is lagging behind other countries in its commercial approval of drones.
  7. FAA’s 30,000 drones by 2030 prediction is outdated and the agency now predicts as many as 7500 small commercial UAS by 2018, assuming the necessary regulations are in place.  This figure may be updated when new rules are proposed later this year.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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