Overreaching FAA rules crushing drone innovation
With the sale and use of drones continuing to escalate over the past year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently declared a new war on drone users.
To curb the misuse of drones, the FAA has announced safety rules that the agency says are designed to protect safety without stifling innovation.
“What this actually represents is a doubling down of a piecemeal regulatory strategy which the FAA has adopted for several years now,” Snead asserts. “That [strategy] really seeks to hold back and restrain the innovation in this industry, and try to control not only the direction, but also the pace of an industry so that it proceeds the pace which regulators are comfortable with – rather than one which the market is comfortable with.”
In other words, Snead stresses that by the FAA moving forward with its new safety rules, it would do more than good.
“What we’re really looking at is the potential for American drone companies to really lose a technological edge, and all of the heavily bureaucratic and hyper-cautionary rules which the FAA are imposing on this industry are pushing drone development overseas,” Snead insists. “We’ve seen companies like Amazon and Google actually take their development to foreign countries, where they are actually quite accepting – by comparison to the FAA’s standards.”
OneNewsNow asked Snead whether regulations are needed to prevent things such as a drone user causing a plane crash.
“There are some valid concerns here, and I think we have to be cognizant of that,” Snead answered. “I would like to stress that there is no incident that the FAA can point to where a drone has impacted a manned aircraft – much less caused one to crash. So, these really are – at the moment – hypothetical concerns.”
Meanwhile, Snead says that there are some reasonable rules that the FAA could impose, such as one stating that drones cannot fly within a certain reasonable radius of an airport or a national security installation … or another one that declares that drones should ultimately be restricted from entering what is known as the navigable airspace – which is airspace generally above 500 feet.
“Those – I would think – would be quite reasonable, quite rational and quite limited rules, but what the FAA is doing right now is they’re essentially saying, ‘Drones are so inherently dangerous that they need massive, federal regulations to make them safe … [therefore,] we’re only going to allow certain types of innovation to proceed … we’re only going to allow certain technologies to be developed and deployed.”
Overall, Snead believes the new rules are in furtherance of a design on the part of the FAA to assert regulatory control over this entire industry.
“For most people at the moment, these rules are effectively set in stone, but there is one lawsuit which is proceeding which is challenging the recreational rules that were put in place, [and] those were the registry requirement that was set forth last December,” Snead points out. “One interesting development that took place is that the latest round of rules ostensibly are commercial drone regulations, so they should not apply to recreational drone users – or at least that’s what you might think. But the FAA has just clarified that this new rule – which just went into effect – might actually apply to a broad swath of recreational drone owners after all.”
As a result, Snead says that hobby flyers might have to submit to everything from a background check to an FAA knowledge exam.
“And it’s all because the FAA is not really telling you exactly how you can comply – in order to have these new rules levied against you,” Snead concluded.