3D Robotics

3689607665?profile=originalForbes reports on the launch of this new organization. 

If you are involved at all in small drone flying, you are likely to have come across Peter Sachs in one of a number of online forums dedicated to unmanned aerial vehicles or have visited his website to learn from an expert the latest in drone law.  He’s a commercial helicopter pilot, aviation attorney and drone enthusiast.  He is also the publisher of dronelawjournal.com – an online legal reference for the latest in drone law affecting small unmanned aerial vehicles.

He tweets under the name TheDroneGuy, frequently jabbing the FAA for what he – and many legal experts I have spoken with – consider  to be unfounded legal interpretations and enforcement actions against drone operators, including the infamous case against Rafael Pirker.  Recently, the FAA had the dubious distinction of winning a case brought by the search and rescue organization Texas Equusearch, whose search and rescue missions had been grounded by a cease-and-desist order issued by an FAA inspector.

The basis for the FAA’s “victory”? The Court of Appeals’ determined that the cease-and-desist order itself was legally unenforceable, stating “the challenged email communication from a Federal Aviation Administration employee did not represent the consummation of the agency’s decisionmaking process, nor did it give rise to any legal consequences. ”

And now, Peter Sachs’s latest venture is starting the Drone Pilots Association to “represent the interests of all commercial and non-hobbyist drone pilots.”  For now, membership is free.  [Full disclosure, I have been asked to be on the advisory board for the new organization.]  Launched late last night, the website quickly garnered more than 100 members.

As I have written before, I believe that the United States is falling further and further behind other countries in adopting and utilizing the commercial promise of this exciting new technology.  And missing out on the thousands and thousands of jobs that could be created across the country.  Japan, Canada and Australia are among the countries that have moved much further ahead in allowing use of drone technology to advance agricultural and scientific research.

While as a long-time safety advocate, I agree that integration of manned and unmanned aircraft requires a deliberate process, I believe that the FAA could safely allow the commercial use of small UAVs (for example, those under five pounds) by managing their operating procedures to avoid populated areas and areas where manned aircraft fly.    I look forward to serving on the Advisory Board of this new organization.

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