FAA Criticized for Missing Deadline for Setting Drone Rules

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-10-05 Print this article Print
drone rules

"We developed the plan(s) and have been meeting milestones in those plans," the spokesman said. "Congress said 'safe' integration, not 'full' or 'complete' integration.  'Safe' integration requires that it take place on an incremental basis."

Wynne, of the AUVSI, criticized that argument. "If they want to have that argument, they can have it with Congress," he said of the FAA's position. "I didn't mandate it. Congress did."

The economic impact of continuing to wait for the rules is an estimated $83 billion in the United States over the next 10 years once the rules are in place and businesses can use them, and that is for aviation businesses alone, said Wynne.

The FAA has been working since 2012 to develop rules and procedures for the commercial use of drones in the United States. In June, an FAA spokesman said the agency is working to have drone regulations in place by mid-2016. Now the agency is saying it will be next April or so. The regulations will govern drone flights and keep them safely away from commercial and private aircraft traffic as well as pedestrians and other hazards on the ground.

A wide range of businesses, from e-retailer Amazon to agricultural businesses, photographers, energy production companies, news operations and others have been clamoring for the ability to use drones for several years, but have been prevented from doing so until the FAA implements regulations to ensure their safe operation. The companies have been arguing that delays in implementing drone rules in the United States have kept businesses from benefiting from cost savings and new revenue from their use.

In August, the FAA announced a new beta B4UFLY mobile app that offers to help drone pilots ensure safe flight paths for their UASes. B4UFLY is a free app that is being offered for beta-testing by up to 1,000 UAS users, including drone pilots and model aircraft hobbyists, to provide up-to-date information on hazards and restrictions in the area where they fly their drones or model planes.

In July, Amazon proposed the use of specific sections of U.S. airspace for drone flights so that it could push forward with its plans to provide package delivery flights across the United States, eWEEK reported at the time. Amazon's idea is to designate airspace below 200 feet for drones that do surveying or inspections or take videos, while reserving airspace between 200 to 400 feet for delivery drones that are making their way over communities. Such a system would then connect drones as they are operating to an online network that would manage their flights in real time to keep them from harm's way. The airspace between 200 and 400 feet would allow drones to be flown autonomously, while being equipped with sophisticated sense-and-avoid technologies.

Amazon has been looking at drone deliveries as a way of offering faster service to customers while also saving money, compared with the more costly human-based delivery systems.


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