Pilot pressure explains FAA’s indecisiveness on drones

Drone policy in the U.S. is a mess: the Federal Aviation Administration is currently grounding commercial use of unmanned aircraft while letting any amateur imbecile — like this guy — fly freely. Meanwhile, the agency keeps missing deadlines to propose a plan for integrating drones into civilian skies.

The situation is a source of frustration to researchers, photographers and companies, which have been stuck twiddling their thumbs even as other countries leap ahead in developing new industries tied to unmanned aircraft. But if it’s any consolation, there’s now an explanation for the FAA’s arbitrary approach.

Full article here Explanation

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on January 18, 2015 at 7:01am

I'm glad this article came out.  I think this is definitely a huge part of the problem.  Manned aviation taking a page from the buggy whip business plan.  

Comment by Quadzimodo on January 18, 2015 at 7:22am

The premise of Jeff's byline is false.  The FAA does not let any amateur imbecile - like this guy - fly freely. There are many restrictions and limitations imposed on such a flyer by the FAA.  If you follow the hyperlink provided (which takes you to another article penned by the same author) it also clearly identifies the fact that a blanket ban exists on flying in all National Parks (yet another poor excuse for an informed opinion by the same author on that subject is available by hyperlink also). Nor does the specific incident cited in the byline have any relevance to the subject matter.

It is not surprising that small commercial aviation operators like "aerial surveyors, photographers and moviemaking pilots" might be pressuring the FAA on the integration of drones. Their days are certainly numbered as the services they currently offer are easy fruit due for earn picking by our emerging industry.  But any pressure applied will only yield a short reprieve from the inevitable and only serve to damage development by domestic start ups.

Even if the entire equine industry had the world's most effective lobby back at the turn of the 20th century, they could not have stopped the auto from taking over.  This situation, as Rob points out, is no different.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 18, 2015 at 8:02am

The Pirker indecision has gone now. There are clear routes to prosecution for reckless endangerment. The FAA has been telling local police forces whats what. So they have sorted that out time to move on with the job at hand. At sUAS News we have been told by insiders that 2021 is the target year. Lets hope thats wrong.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on January 18, 2015 at 8:22am

I'd bet that by 2020, the average information gathering drone will be no bigger than a sparrow. Yet, this group will still claim that these machines should be restricted for "safety reasons".

Comment by Quadzimodo on January 18, 2015 at 8:39am

This contribution by CGP Grey seems relevant

So does this one by Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Comment by F1P on January 18, 2015 at 9:52am

"The bans came after a series of reported incidents, including a drone crashing in the Grand Canyon, and tourists using drones to harass big horn sheep in Utah. Drone advocates, however, have accused the Park Service of a knee-jerk response, and pointed out that the machines — many of which weigh under five pounds — offer opportunities for unique photography and for scientific research."

Ok, if they drop  camera or lens only or something another thing - who was imbecil?

Who make idiotic law or who IGNORE idiotic law?
Regulation and total ban - absolutely different thing.

Comment by F1P on January 18, 2015 at 10:07am

Im thoght some from  that "big problem report" seems bit idiotic =)
"She added that Yellowstone has not yet determined if the drone created any damage to the hot spring"
"tourists using drones to harass big horn sheep in Utah"
"woman called police in June to report a peeping Tom drone. The drone was hovering outside of her high-rise window, and the woman saw operators on the ground below with camera equipment. The drone operators insist that they were not spying on the woman, but rather her view. They were working on plans for a new building."

Comment by Gary McCray on January 18, 2015 at 11:01am

Excellent that you brought this to our attention Tom,

The reality is that UAS incidents are more remarkable for how few and inconsequential they have been.

But that doesn't stop them from being BIG news.

A much deeper and underlying problem is natural (and usually self serving) resistance to change.

Of course, any existing business is resistant to change, especially if it negatively impacts their bottom line.

Business is all about profit and winning and it doesn't care one whit for what is fair or best for everybody.

And for many years, pilots and manned air travel were the only people the FAA had to deal with so the fact that they are complicit in trying to minimize the effectiveness and utility of drones seems entirely consistant with what you might expect.

Yet another reason that the wrong agency was given the mandate and power to do this.

They are very prejudiced against UAS and that isn't going to change.

It really needs a separate agency with powers equal to the FAA who can fight it out adequately with the existing adversarial organization for reasonable manned and unmanned use of our airspace.

Clearly (and sadly) this isn't going to happen, so progress with UAS is going to be at a snails pace in the US and very unsatisfactory for all concerned.

They have given the keys to the UAS hen house to the FAA fox.

Best Regards,


Comment by Darrell Burkey on January 19, 2015 at 12:28am

That's what we all get for calling our model aircraft 'drones'. 

Comment by Thomas Donalek on January 21, 2015 at 1:58pm

I had suspected the same - that there were manned aircraft commercial operators whose business model doesn't fare well versus UASs who were lobbying the FAA to avoid competition... but the linked article seems very, very short on facts or details.


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