The Wall Street Journal, among a lot of news sources, has been increasingly pro drone as the regulation on the technology continues to stifle the advancement of a consumer market for their services in the United States. Perhaps these news sources also have a stake in the game, with CNN and the New York Times recently granted an exemption to begin testing drones for news coverage.
The article uses the example of the first automobiles to call out current regulation on drones as over the top, and “stuck in the past.”
“In the early days of the automobile, Vermont enacted a law requiring someone to walk one-eighth of a mile in front of every car and wave a red flag to warn pedestrians. Iowa directed all motorists to call ahead to warn each town on their route that they were coming. Some jurisdictions set speed limits so low that drivers who obeyed them risked having their engines stall.
Those laws seem humorously quaint, but if they had been widely adopted and enforced, the automobile revolution might have been shut down and its manifold benefits denied to millions. Today over-regulation could stifle the development of drones, which have the potential to revolutionize many parts of the economy and our everyday lives.”
The article does go on to talk about the recent Proposed Rulemaking as a step forward over the previous level of regulation.
For example, the FAA has required that anyone operating a drone—even one weighing 1.5 pounds—must hold a pilot’s license and FAA medical certificate. The agency has mandated that a “visual observer” other than the operator stand and watch the drone at all times it is in use. It also has required operators to file a notice with local aviation authorities at least two days in advance of any flight, no matter how limited.
The FAA’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is more promising. Drone operators would not have to hold the same kind of private pilot’s license required to fly a Cessna. The FAA is also considering a special “micro-drone” category for lightweight vehicles that weigh under 4.4 pounds and break up on impact, thus presenting fewer safety concerns than larger drones. Such micro-drones could be used in more populated areas than their larger counterparts.
The article closes with a very hard line on the drone industry and the FAA’s regulation of it.
It does not make sense for the FAA to regulate small battery-powered drones the same way it does manned aircraft weighing thousands of pounds, flying long distances at high altitudes, and carrying large amounts of flammable jet fuel. If the agency keeps this in mind—and the proposed rules provide reason for measured optimism—the promise of a potentially transformative technology can be realized.
Read the full article here