Indications of where #drone regulation is headed #drones #quadcopters #UAS #UAV

Therefore, the alliance says it “strongly supports” the amendment, which “enables the FAA to impose safety regulations on all drone operators” and is “critical to ensure the safety and security of the national airspace.”

“The alliance recognizes that there are different categories of users and aircraft in the UAS community, and we encourage the FAA to take those differences into account in adopting regulations,”

Source: FAA Reauthorization Amendment Seeks Section 336 Reform – Unmanned Aerial

The above is the background discussion that has been underway since last fall and gives hints as to where Congress and Federal regulators are moving in the months ahead.

Read the whole thing to see what it is desired by regulators

  • All model aircraft pilots to pass an “aeronautical knowledge and safety test”
  • Permit the FAA to regulate “operational parameters” for hobbyist aircraft, including registration and marking
  • Standards for remote identification and “other standards consistent with maintaining the safety and security of the National Airspace System” – meaning real-time beacon ID containing registration ID, location and real-time tracking systems.
  • Provide for aircraft “flown strictly for hobby or recreational use” if “operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a community-based organization”.

The latter is the escape clause suggesting the FAA will not heavily regulate model aircraft flown at established model aircraft club airfields. Flights anywhere else, however, would be subject to requirements for certified pilots, automatic beacon identification and real-time tracking.

A ranking Congressional representative has called for mandatory “geofencing” that would prevent hobbyist drones from flying within 5 miles of any airport.

More on where this could lead, in the future, in my previous blog post.

The FAA is well along in developing proposed rules and regulations and is waiting for Congress to give it the authority it wants, which may come within the next few weeks.

The image accompanying this post shows 12 airports within a 5 mile radius of the maps center point. Before flying, a hobbyist must notify all 12 airport managers or private airfield owners, plus the one air traffic control tower. Most of these airports are privately owned and operated, typically at farms or farming related businesses such as crop dusting, plus 3 hospital landing zones.

The number of airports is probably greater than most hobbyists recognize, meaning that hobby drones cannot be casually flown over much of the U.S. Indeed, its a good guess that most drone hobbyists are unaware of their local airport restrictions and are violating FAA regulations. Automated beacon IDs on all model aircraft will eventually make such violations enforceable.

A corollary is that most people buying hobby drones probably ought not to be buying them until they figure out if and where they can be flown legally.

Note – Part 107 licensed pilots do not need to notify all airports, only operating air traffic control towers. It is presumed that licensed pilots understand the air space and will operate safely just as licensed private pilots do not need to notify every private airfield as they fly overhead.