From Politico, a long piece arguing that the "FAA is often powerless to halt the growing drone swarm".
The Washington Nationals used a drone to photograph spring training. Real estate agents use them to show off sprawling properties. Martin Scorsese hired one to film a scene in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
So where does this leave the Federal Aviation Administration, which insists that commercial drone use is illegal?
Way behind — and facing turbulence as drone use explodes.
Thanks to falling prices, spotty enforcement and the fact that it’s almost impossible to spot the devices being used, the FAA is often powerless to halt the growing drone swarm. Retailers freely sell the tiny planes, quadcopters and hexacopters for as little as a few hundred dollars, and entrepreneurs continually come up with creative uses like wedding photography and crop monitoring — along with delivering beer and dropping off dry-cleaning.
The result, observers and drone users warn, could be a Wild, Wild West in the nation’s skies. As small drone operators grow used to flying them without the FAA’s permission, they could become less inclined to obey any rules the agency puts in place. And with the cost of the technology continuing to drop, the drones could eventually become far too ubiquitous for the agency to police.
Meanwhile, the FAA is lagging in meeting a congressional mandate to allow commercial drones to share the skies legally.
“Most people want to comply with the FAA rules,” said Ted Ellett, a former FAA general counsel who is now a partner specializing in aviation at the law firm Hogan Levells. “But the more the FAA acts like a big daddy, behemoth government agency that is imposing excessive restrictions, the more the feeling of ‘I’m an American, they can’t tell me what to do’ kicks in. And that’s a real danger for the FAA.”
Plenty of drone users are going ahead without waiting for the agency.
“A lot of our members would like to start businesses using this technology,” said Timothy Reuter, the founder of the Drone User Group Network in Washington. “Some of them are waiting for the regulations to open up. Others, honestly, aren’t.”