Funding schemes in Congress could ground drones; FAA pressured over privacy

The lagging federal effort to fully integrate drones into U.S. airspace is in danger of falling even further behind schedule.

A funding bill now before the Senate essentially would stop the process in its tracks by prohibiting the Federal Aviation Administration from moving forward until it completes a detailed report on drones’ potential privacy impact.

The report, called for in the Senate’s fiscal 2014 transportation appropriations measure, would be yet another hurdle in the FAA’s already complex, time-consuming drone integration initiative.

The agency has been charged by Congress to write rules and regulations allowing drones — now used primarily by the military, law enforcement and researchers — to operate commercially in U.S. skies by September 2015, but the industry fears that deadline is likely to be missed.

Requiring the FAA, which traditionally deals only with airspace safety and has little experience in writing Fourth Amendment protections, to craft a comprehensive privacy report would all but guarantee the date will be pushed back.

Leaders in the unmanned aerial systems sector warn that such setbacks will hamper American technological innovation and carry economic consequences.

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Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 29, 2013 at 6:59am

It looks like the privacy issue is as strong as ever in the US Senate. Here we go again, sigh!!



Comment by Matt on July 29, 2013 at 8:48am

Psssshhhh. Like the care about privacy for the common person. Hopefully they can come to some sort of an agreement. 

Comment by Patrick McKay on July 29, 2013 at 10:11am

This is just ridiculous. The NSA can read every single American's emails and tap our phone calls with impunity and Congress won't do a think about it, yet they're willing to stifle the birth of an entire industry for privacy fears over photographs taken from public airspace that no one has ever had an expectation of privacy against. Absurd.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 29, 2013 at 10:27am


What the Senate is afraid of is that maybe drones will allow you and me and everyone else to become mini-NSAs.:-)




Comment by HeliStorm on July 29, 2013 at 11:20am
TCIII...I couldn't agree more.
Comment by LanMark on July 29, 2013 at 8:11pm
There are already laws on the books about privacy.. How about enforcing those or strengthening them.. But not requiring FAA to do congress's job.
Comment by Gary McCray on July 29, 2013 at 9:35pm

True enough, it isn't about privacy, but who has the right to invade it and for what purposes.

Big industry and the government want that right with impunity but are terrified that we the people of the united states might have it and use it to look at what they are doing too closely.

Take a look at their reactions to Wiki Leaks and Snowden.

All that secrecy on their part and invasion of privacy on our part is not making our country a better place.

Big corporations have the lobbies and we have nothing, they don't work for us any more.

Comment by crystal garris on July 29, 2013 at 10:05pm
If I owned a big uav company like insitu or AV I would not like this one bit. These companies need large cash flow to survive. The war money is drying up and this just puts converting to commercial even further out of reach for the ex military contractors.

Guys like me, 3dr etc. Companies building for the hobby market, we actually have customers. I for one have this thing called a regular job. I don't even need to make a dime from techpods to stay afloat. I think the hobby companies have a much better strategic long term out look.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 29, 2013 at 10:12pm

I think the advantage for small companies is that you can innovate faster.

AV and Boeing have got got their golden tickets based on paperwork paid for by the US taxpayer in times of war I don't think allowing military platforms in first would be allowed in Europe. This does show the FAA knows small systems are out there it might also go a little way towards explaining why the FAA number for civil airframes is so small. There are less Ravens for instance in the wild than DJI has sold Phantoms in Switzerland. (7000)

Gripping aside they are both great platforms, if a little bit expensive.

Comment by crystal garris on July 29, 2013 at 10:54pm
Well, I've been shaking hands and talking with many of the decision makers on the inside of the gubment. The word is $350,000 cessna replacements are out. The economics just don't add up. It doesn't matter how much influence or conspiracy or whatever anyone has. At the end of the day UAVs have to be cheaper then manned aircraft or guess what, they will be flying manned aircraft.


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