LA Times op-ed: Overturn RC rules and make UAV hobbyists get licenses!

Get ready for a lot of these sort of op-eds. Here's one in the LA Times from John Villasenor, a Brookings Institute fellow, who thinks the current FAA rules on RC have got to go. Extra points for anyone who can explain the logic of the bolded sentence below:

Although reasonable people can disagree on how long it would take terrorists to build or acquire weaponized drones that can be guided by video into a target, there's really no dispute that it is a question of when and not if. The day will come when such drones are available to almost anyone who wants them badly enough.

In fact, there is ample evidence that terrorist groups have already experimented with drones. As far back as the mid-1990s — practically ancient history in drone terms — the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo sect that carried out the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway reportedly considered drones. So too have Al Qaeda and the Colombian insurgent group FARC.

Nations with a record of close ties to terrorists are another concern. Iran unveiled a drone in August 2010 that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad managed to describe as an "ambassador of death" and a "message of peace and friendship" in the same sentence.

So what can we do to reduce the risk? One good place to start is the "model aircraft" provision in the new aviation law, which allows hobbyists to operate drones weighing up to 55 pounds with essentially no governmental oversight. The law allows recreational drones to be operated in accordance with "community-based" safety guidelines established by a "nationwide community-based organization." The inclusion of this language was a lobbying victory for model airplane enthusiasts. But is it really in the broader national interest?

It is not. One of the hallmarks of an effective national antiterrorism policy is consistency. The hobbyist exception is glaringly inconsistent with our overall approach to antiterrorism. By what logic, for example, do we prevent airline passengers from taking 8-ounce plastic water bottles through security checkpoints, while permitting anyone who so desires to operate a 50-pound, video-guided drone, no questions asked?

The overwhelming majority of the people in the model airplane and drone hobbyist community would never consider carrying out a terrorist attack. Yet the same could be said for the overwhelming majority of airline passengers, all of whom are subject to the same rules about what can be taken through airport security checkpoints.

Given the realities of the world we live in, it doesn't seem unreasonable to require all civilian U.S. operators of drones capable of carrying a significant payload to obtain a license. A useful model can be found in fishing licenses, which provide an inexpensive, non-burdensome way for government agencies to know who is fishing.

A licensing program obviously wouldn't eliminate the threat of drone terrorism. After all, terrorists won't necessarily feel compelled to get a license. But the federal government has a legitimate national security interest in monitoring domestic drone use. Today, its ability to do so is inadequate. A licensing program would help plug a critical gap in the government's knowledge regarding who should — and shouldn't — be operating drones.

Views: 3748

Comment by Hunter Parris on March 27, 2012 at 1:27am

"In fact, there is ample evidence that terrorist groups have already experimented with drones. As far back as the mid-1990s"  

So how many recorded terrorist attacks have been with drones??

"By what logic, for example, do we prevent airline passengers from taking 8-ounce plastic water bottles through security checkpoints, while permitting anyone who so desires to operate a 50-pound, video-guided drone, no questions asked?"


This is a very good point!  One cannot exist with out the other.  So get rid of the water bottle law...actually the TSA all together.  Let the Airlines provide security.

"A useful model can be found in fishing licenses, which provide an inexpensive, non-burdensome way for government agencies to know who is fishing."

The government doesn't need to know everything!  This is ridiculous.  Why does the government 'need' to know who's fishing in their pond or flying a model plane around his field?  Talk about imposing on freedoms...drones aren't doing that, bureaucrats like these are.

"A licensing program obviously wouldn't eliminate the threat of drone terrorism. After all, terrorists won't necessarily feel compelled to get a license."

Then there is no reason for this article.  Stop talking.  Way too many laws are in place to regulate unnecessary BS that does not only NOT prevent the crime, but in some instances gives the crime more attention which in turn raises the crime rate and occurrences.

I don't understand why the Government must always go after the good guys to prevent crime?  It doesn't make sense.  Go after the bad guys!  LEAVE US ALONE!


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on March 27, 2012 at 1:51am

I think the answer is to join RCAPA, they are petitioning to be on ARC 2.0 proper, the AMA was not on ARC 2.0 and has not interest in being so they will not protect your interests.

Its free to join, not enough people care properly in the USA about what is being pushed their way. Looks like an ostrich filled nation from the outside.

Comment by Hunter Parris on March 27, 2012 at 1:57am

VBIEDS (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices), Suicide vests, anal bombs, shoe bombs, rocket launchers, mail bombs, gas attacks, etc.  If a disgruntled citizen or an insurgent of a foreign government feels the need to carry out an act of terror, he/she will find a way.  I feel the more laws we create, the smarter these bastards get.  It seems the only logical way to prevent terrorism is to either jail or kill every everybody in the world.  Problem solved.  No People, No Terror.  ahhh....jackasses.


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on March 27, 2012 at 2:21am

Don't get hung up on the nasty uses.

Its distracting minds from making sure simple sensible rules prevail. The jet lobby at the AMA worked well and they are a minority. The FAA wanted all model jets banned

Then rather amazingly this happened 

http://www.suasnews.com/2011/09/8525/cnn-reporting-pentagon-attack-...

But HR 658 pushed through and saved them.

Along with model glider competitions and large scale models, but I don't think we know for sure what the AMA has conceded to allow those breaks.

Rules for private and commercial UAS will come from the NPRM process which is yet to happen. When it does a unified voice, either through DIYD or RCAPA, needs to shout. A community based organisation.

We thought at sUAS News that around April or May the NPRM might happen, we have now revised that to the fall or perhaps even next year. Based on whispers that we hear, not hard fact so still can be wrong.

If you believed the mainstream hype from before last Christmas the NPRM should already have happened. Expect in about September that hype to arrive again, it has happened every year for the last three.

Crikey I am in full rant mode.

The worry for all of you in the USA is that the big defence contractors are running the rule making process. Largely because they have the funds and requirement.

http://www.suasnews.com/2012/03/12557/faa-decrees-small-business-in...

Just saying that there are too many rules anyway and who cares you will fly any way will work for a while. But once proper statutes are on the books there will be clear ways to be prosecuted. If your local council can make a buck be said prosecution you can be sure they will.

SO in my small mind there are three options

1. Hope that rules will be fair and simple

2. Create a community based organisation from DIYD members, or join RCAPA and get ready to help the push.

3. Just keep flying and hope to never be caught once the rules arrive.

It just beggars belief that its all so hard over there. In the UK a call for comments was made about I'm guessing 6 years ago now, and we all commented and then simple rules happened.

No big drama no shouting.

 

Comment by Sören Beddrich on March 27, 2012 at 3:01am

@dudz Insuarance? Welcome to Germany! We already have that. You are also not permitted to use rc planes heavier than 5kg outside the area of an registered RC hobbyist club. (members only) 

Comment by james sowell on March 27, 2012 at 3:29am

its not like someone from a flight school called in and told them someone (non us citziens)wanted to learn to fly not takeoff and land  they whould not look into it, they whould not drop the ball on that whould they   

Comment by Paul Marsh on March 27, 2012 at 4:18am

Well, the good news is that these extreme views of control over the individual are being spouted before a national election.  Keep talking, Mr. Villasenor.

Comment by Dan Neault on March 27, 2012 at 4:33am

What a moron, 20 odd years ago when I studied electronic engineering, half my class was from the middle east, how stupid do you have to be, in order to believe they don't already have the tech.

I believe 1/2 people I have worked with over the years, could build a drone from parts commonly available.

And guess what John, I not american (well I am native american), nor are many I have worked with.

If I where him, I would be more concerned with how much weaponized processor guided hardware is already

available and leave us alone :(

 


T3
Comment by Ted Van Slyck on March 27, 2012 at 5:47am

Fishing licenses pay for stocking lakes and supporting the needs of the States parks department, not monitoring who is fishing.

Additionally, if we want consistensy in how we regulate the NAS, maybe we should revoke the passenger 3oz rule and opt for less regulation and not more. 

Comment by Hunter Parris on March 27, 2012 at 5:59am

@exaustgas

My point exactly.  I know fishing licenses pay for that, what he is saying doesn't make sense at all.  Go figure that a UCLA/Brookings Institute fellow would know jack about fishing.

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