A friend and I were discussing the FAA and our efforts in the drone community to engage with the regulatory body.  I am sure many of you have had that discussion and most of the ones that have been around pre-2007 are aware of the long standing efforts of Gary, Patrick and many others.  I explained to my friend that in 2013 there were over 4500 commercial airline near misses.  The FAA at the beginning of the year had 6 drone near miss incidents under investigation.  We went on to talk about the Trappy case and the new "rules" banning FPV.  That of course led to the news story of Airbus wanting to move to windowless cockpits.  This all led to furious use of Google.  This led to an interesting experiment.  We decided to Google "drone crash" and "drone near miss" to predictable results.  On drone crash all the articles about American civilian drones are post 3Q 2013.  Anything prior to that are stories of military or smuggler hardware from all over the world.  When we googled "drone near miss"  you are hard pressed to find articles before March 2014.  The few articles before then are pertaining to military drones.  If I were new to drones I would be hard pressed to conclude that civilian drones existed prior to 2013.  Make no mistake that there is a coordinated effort to swing the tides against civilian drones.  The stories are plants and hyperventilating by the media and the FAA.  I saw and article that asked "Why are drone operators being arrested all over the country.  It spoke of three instances and barely touched the Trappy case.  As a modeler for almost 30 years, I am disturbed by these articles and efforts.  We have an excellent safety record that I would say according to the evidence surpasses commercial and general aviation.  I think as a drone community we need to be responsible for ourselves but we also need to recognize propaganda and call it out so we can protect our rights and privileges.  The fact is that models have been flying for decades.  The problems that they are saying could happen now could have happened all along.  How many RC clubs are at actual airports?  Be safe, help others learn how to be safe and call out propaganda trying to make us sound like a new and renegade community.  We should be offended by the insinuation and furious with the bent of the stories.  I try to engage as many people around me when I am flying. They may be children, police, teachers or any other walk of life including the FAA.  When I engage them they are fascinated and amazed at what you can do and how fun it looks.  I know this was kind of rambling but I had to get it off my chest.  Thank you for reading my blog.

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  • The problem is much deeper than just the FAA. If you see who is mainly pushing the regulations, you primarily find 2 interest groups:

    1.) Left wing activists which are afraid of increased capabilities of police and security services. This group is mainly pushing the privacy stuff.

    2.) A mixture of classical aviation industry businesses and old or new companies specialized on licensing and certification. This is the really dangerous group, because they have money and do A LOT of backdoor lobbying.

    The classical aviation industry was just 2 or 3 years ago not even noticing sUAS, at maximum, smiling about them. And suddenly came the boom and now they are afraid to become obsolete and lose the chance to participate in this new market. So they activate all their contacts and open their moneybags for lobbying and PR.

    Those certification and licensing people are in my opinion a really unpleasant and shady bunch, because they make up all kinds of horror scenarios to explain why every operator needs to buy courses and certification services from them - as many as possible and as expensive as possible. And the politicians listen because the vast majority of politicians are professional politicians and completely incompetent regarding anything that has to do with the real world plus the lobbyists have big budgets for party and campaign donations.

    One of the key lobby players is an organization called UVS-International. It is on paper a non-profit organization but closely interwoven with the consulting company Blyenburgh & Co. They are so deeply established that they actually got to write most of the EU's RPAS roadmap and got even paid for that. Seriously, you have to give them that - they are brilliant - the only lobby organization I ever heard of who does not have to pay officials but actually - vice versa - gets paid by the officials for doing the lobby-work.

    However, the true goal of UVS-International becomes all to visible if you check their member statutes:

    1.) Private individuals can only become members on explicit invitation of the board

    2.) Private individuals who become members have no vote in the general assembly

    3.) The number of votes, corporate members have depend on their yearly turnover

    They don't have any interest in progress or technology. Only in creating an environment in which their members can make as much profit as possible.

    Make no mistake: Chris and Jordi started a revolution which could enable e.g. every small farmer to optimize his results with his own drone for $1000 or help Fire and Rescue organizations in their work, saving lives.

    The ultimate goal of the current lobby organizations is to destroy this achievements and make sure that the farmer (or FD, EMS, etc.) either has to pay $40,000+ for a fully certified drone and another $10,000 for licenses... Or rent one from a certified operator for $500 per hour, making the technology and it's advantages much less accessible.

    So in the end, a few people who did NOTHING for the progress of this technology will get stinking rich while the benefits of the technology will only be available to a few, like huge farm operations or major city FD/EMS which can afford either their own certified drones or hiring an operator.

    THAT is the goal and THAT is where we are going.

  • Or just dollars forcing the change as always... However I think the goal is to distinguish between the however with the opensource in many cases batter than the commercial, the lines are definitely blurred 

  • If want to know who is going to kill the consumer drones, it will be commercial drone companies. Take a look at this video with CEO Chris Anderson and other CEOs ( 6.17.14 Consumer Drones: The View from Above https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_D-W8ZVPZ8 at 25:00) Jonathan Downey, Founder & CEO, Airware makes an argument for FAA regs, Why because his company will profit by selling safety software drones. He does not think Open Source software is very good or has limits. Chris Anderson, defends open source very well. What we are seeing now (as Toby has written and reasoned very well, stated as propaganda) is propaganda  from commercial drones against open source and consumer drones.

  • Great post Toby,

    You are right we are facing new problems from all directions at once.

    Primarily it is the new witch hunt with drones as the witch and the FAA as the governors of Salem.

    But aside from the media and politically driven frenzy there is also the reality of a whole flock of new people going out and buying quadcopters and behaving very irresponsibly with them.

    The very features that have made them really easy to fly has had a backlash, meaning that people who have no idea what they need to do to fly responsibly are now in possession of them.

    Convergence in the electronics world is generally looked at as a positive thing, but the kind of convergence we have been experiencing of these two major negatives is clearly not.

    Grand standing silliness and rabble rousing preachers of drone doom on the one hand and inconsiderate untrained people on the other.

    You can see the essence of a closed and very destructive circle here where the actions of the one group feed the sermons of the other.

    And of course we have the FAA determined to be the High Priest of the whole mess.

    Education of the masses, promotion of responsible behaviour and acting in a responsible and safe way ourselves is most likely to affect the outcome positively.

    But a strong tide is flowing against us at the moment.

  • what Eduardo said

    it's an easy bet to say there have been more Drones/RC aircraft made and sold in the last two year then have even been made before. it use to be really hard and expensive to get you hands on RC plane. even with the big  bucks they had limited on the transmitters compared to todays controllers. 

    on top of that because it took all of this work these people also knew the rules of using their RCs but today people don't bother to look into them and fly how ever were ever they want to.

  • I am modeler for almost 20 years too ...

    The problem not is the old school pilots but the new generation of easy to pilot rc equipment.

    Anyone can order an dji phanton and start to fly very easy.

    All this pilots need to be banned.

    I think only experienced pilots affiliated to rc clubs can fly a UAV.

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