From Mashable

By Chris Perkins

If for some reason you think the lack of drone regulation in the U.S. isn't a problem, read this.

The Washington Post obtained records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detailing nearly 700 close calls between drones and airplanes in the U.S. in 2015. Over 70 close calls have been recorded between Aug. 1-17.

A government official anonymously provided the Washington Post with these documents because they disagreed with the FAA's level of secrecy. The report notes that the FAA has declined to release public reports on these incidents.

The near-700 close calls between drones and airplanes is three times higher than the same figure in 2014.

Drones aren't legally allowed to fly above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport, but the FAA is mostly powerless to enforce this.

While there hasn't yet been a collision with a drone and an airplane, it doesn't take much imagination to explore the potential hazards. A bird strike has the potential to bring down an aircraft, as was the case with 2009's "Miracle on the Hudson", so one could reasonably assume a small drone could do similar damage.

The issue here is that unmanned arial vehicles (UAV), in their current state, are almost impossible to track: they aren't detected by radar and many aren't equipped with devices to transmit their location. It's nearly impossible to catch the culprits, too, since they are likely flying their UAVs from a distance.

Much of the work towards developing a practical system has actually been carried out by NASA and other private entities like Verizon and Amazon, not the FAA.


Image: Amazon

Many of the regulation plans being floated involve the use of "geofencing" in some capacity. With geofencing, all drones would be required to connect to the Internet and certain areas would be virtually fenced off, preventing UAV flight. Drones would also be required to register with a central governing agency.

The main issue with the NASA/Verizon and Amazon plans is that not all drones are Internet connected, so older drones would need to be retrofitted or banned outright. Of course, geofencing wouldn't prevent rouge operators to fly unconnected drones, but it'd be a step toward bringing order to the current situation.

Full article here

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  • @DavidJames even if there was a safety card included in the kit, how many people are willing to actually abide by those rules? Not many people seems to care about the safety of other people, they only care about themselves.....

  • 700 alerts and NO one real accidents. bored.

  • FAA definition: An incident is defined as “an occurrence involving one or more aircraft in which a hazard or a potential hazard to safety is involved but not classified as an accident due to the degree of injury and/or extent of damage.”

    Let's hope nobody here is part of the problem. Fly below 400 feet. 

  • Somebody seriously needs to stop the stupid.  The People's Socialist Republic of California has introduced a bill that would effectively kill off the industry.
    The sensationalist media takes advantage of every "close call" to paint UAVs as nothing but a menace.

    This notion of geofencing all products is stupid.  What if you're using it for Search & Rescue where you don't have the luxury of time to get permission to fly nor do you have the luxury of telling the search subjects where to walk so they can be found?

    IMHO, the only reason Amazon is involved in this is so they can control the airspace.  They're spending money on lobbyists to get the FAA to pass rules that would make the cost to operate so high that only Amazon could afford it.

    The naysayers will say, "Oh, but this only applies to commercial uses."  Sure.  Notice that SAR activities fall into a niche that is neither commercial nor law enforcement.

  • Many alleged sightings over 10,000 feet.  Not only are practically none of these actually confirmed to be a drone (or even physically possible to be one in many cases), merely spotting a drone does not constitute any kind of problem and should not have been reported as an incident.

  • Despite all the emotions and denials, we will see new drone regulations in one of two ways. Before an air tragedy occurs or after a tragedy occurs. For everyone's sake, let's hope it's sooner rather than later. 

  • That act will never see the light of day.  It's proposed legislation still in committee that will never go anywhere.  The "requirements" are moronic and impossible. Literally the entire thing has no basis in reality. It was written by two politicians that do nothing but make new laws that accomplish nothing all day long.

  • Take a look at the proposed Consumer Drone Safety Act if you want to know what's likely coming in new drone regulations. The Act has 3 major thrusts.

    1) Defines "consumer drones"

    2) Gives the FAA authority to regulate consumer drones

    3) Requires manufacturers to restrict the flight envelope of drones so they stay out of restricted airspace 

    Note that the burdens fall mainly on the drone manufacturers. It's good news for all of us consumer drone users that fly within the rules, since we will not be significantly impacted. 

    Hopefully, our community is already preparing for regulations like this to go forward. They're likely within the next year, IMO. 

    It would be interesting to hear 3DR's opinion about the proposed Act and whether or not they support it.


    Text - S.1608 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Consumer Drone Safety Act
    Text for S.1608 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Consumer Drone Safety Act
  • So now my radio controlled paper airplane is going to need a GPS and an internet connection so that it can be geofenced by the government... Sure, that makes sense.

  • It would be much more interesting to know what this represents as a percentage of the number of incidents reported. Bird Strikes, mechanical issues. near misses or any other 'air incident'. I suspect it represents a tiny tiny fraction.

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