Drone Enthusiasts See Benefit in Privatizing Air Traffic Control
Currently there is no nationwide system for tracking drones. Until one is created, the government will continue to require operators to keep their drones in line of sight. It’s what’s holding up drone delivery services.
“I mean obviously Amazon can’t have hundreds of thousands of drone deliveries happening if they have to have somebody there watching it and manipulating the sticks manually,” said Joshua Barnett, president of Drone Dispatch in Round Rock.
But with President Donald Trump’s plan to privatize air traffic control, there’s new hope. Many believe a private corporation could get a system for tracking drones up and running faster than the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Now there are hundreds of thousands of drone pilots, and they [the FAA] just basically don’t have the manpower to deal with this so I think privatizing it will help us in the future,” said Kevin Whatley, vice president of Drone Dispatch.
While Drone Dispatch is able to perform its commercial functions now with relative ease, the company says the 90-day waivers the FAA requires to fly over large groups of people or at night can be a pain.
“Honestly it’s causing firms to just go out and do what they want, and guys aren’t following the rules and as we said, the FAA is over encumbered,” said Barnett. “They don’t have the capacity to go out and investigate all these people that are breaking the rules.”
Those in in the drone industry are confident that these issues will eventually be worked out whether the FAA is at the helm of air traffic control or not.
While some see the benefit of privatizing air traffic control, others have condemned Trump over the plan. Some lawmakers say it would hurt small airports and only work to benefit major airlines.