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FAA/UAS – Judge to FAA “You’re just making things up.”

The federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the FAA’s model aircraft registration regulation passed a very important milestone last week.  A three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral argument from the Plaintiff, John Taylor and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The main questions raised by Mr. Taylor in his suit is whether a model aircraft is an aircraft subject to FAA regulation and, if it is an aircraft, whether the model aircraft registration regulations are barred by Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which states:

the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft . . . .

While the Court’s questions seemed to indicate an openness to Mr. Taylor’s argument regarding Section 336, there seemed to be deep skepticism over his claim that model aircraft are not a civil aircraft subject to regulation.  Under questioning, Mr. Taylor fell back on the argument that the FAA’s broad definition of unmanned aircraft is invalid because it would include paper airplanes and Frisbees.  The panel, however, pointed out that the registration regulation did not apply to Frisbees and paper airplanes, and Mr. Taylor admitted that the Court did not need to reach this argument to decide the appeal.

The FAA began its part of the argument by focusing on the purposes of the registration regulation, which are accountability and education.  The Court almost immediately interrupted and asked the FAA why Congress passed Section 336.  The FAA admitted that the statute was intended to bar the FAA from imposing new regulations on model aircraft, but argued that the statutory requirement that all aircraft be registered under Part 47 were preexisting requirements and not new regulations, and that the model aircraft regulation was simply building on this preexisting legal authority.  The panel was clearly troubled by this argument, with one judge calling the agency’s reading of the statute “bizarre.”  The FAA also argued that Congress made clear that it wants the FAA to enforce safety regarding unmanned aircraft, and that registration was a key part of that effort because it was the only way to identify violators.  The Court responded that these were good policy arguments, but that those were arguments that should be made to Congress.  As one judge noted, “the fact that the thing you are doing has a good effect does not mean that the thing is lawful.”

Finally, the Court questioned how the preexisting statutory requirement that all aircraft be registered could possibly justify a new regulation since Section 336 begins by stating “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law . . . .” The FAA’s response to this queston was interrupted by one of the judges asking, “[w]here are you getting these words from, you’re just making things up.”  The judge then went on to say:

You know, I like my colleague to my right who says it’s a very perplexing statute but, you know, it is what it is, and judges get themselves in trouble when we start fooling around.  There are some judges that I can point to nationally who will say, well, this is not what Congress said.

This is what Congress said, and you have five, as Judge Wilkerson said, you have a frame, if the model that is within these five [requirements] you are done.  That’s that.  That is what Congress said.

Any appellate litigator will tell you that you can’t draw too many conclusions about who is going to win an appeal based on the questioning at oral argument.  However, it is also clear that the FAA had a bad day in Court, and those who thought that the regulations would be easily upheld should take some time to think about what “Plan B” might be for the unmanned aircraft registration system.

For those of you who want to listen to the full 30 minute argument, it can be found HERE.

FAA/UAS – Judge to FAA “You’re just making things up.”

UAS/FAA – Drones v. Airplanes: It’s Just a Matter of Time

The FAA loves to collect data.  One of the statistics they have been monitoring for the past several years is the number of reported UAS sightings by manned aircraft.  The FAA just released its latest quarterly report, and the numbers are not good.

According to the FAA, there were a total of 474 UAS sightings over the three months covered by the new data, for an average of 158 sightings per month.  This compares to 443 sightings from the same period a year earlier.  While the new number is not dramatically worse, it certainly is no improvement.  The FAA is using the new numbers to emphasize that it is sending “a clear message that operating drones around airplanes, helicopters and airports is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.”  The FAA also reiterated that it “has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has many open enforcement cases.”

While the numbers themselves certainly tell a story, the underlying data makes for interesting reading.  The FAA has provided details of each of the 474 sightings in a spreadsheet that can be found HERE.  They range from the concerning:

“PRELIM INFO FROM FAA OPS: LAS VEGAS, NV/UAS INCIDENT/1918P/LAS ATCT ADVISED, HELO, WHILE S BOUND ALONG THE STRIP, REPORTED UAS OVER THE EXCALIBUR HOTEL AT 3,000 FEET. NO EVASIVE ACTION TAKEN. LAS METRO NOTIFIED.

UAS MOR Alert for LAS

Type: Hazardous and/or Unauthorized UAS Activity

Date/Time: Sep 25, 2016 – 0218Z

A/C: (HELO)

Summary: CONFIGURATION TWO LANDING RWY 1L,1R DEPARTING RWY 7L ACFT WAS SOUTHBOUND ALONG THE STRIP WHEN HE NOTIFIED ATC OF A DRONE OVER THE EXCALIBUR HOTEL AT 3000FT. LAS NOTIFIED LAS METRO.

To the disturbing:

“PRELIM INFO FROM FAA OPS: IAH/UAS INCIDENT/1830C/HOUSTON TRACON ADVISED AMERICAN GENERAL AA5, REPORTED A NMAC WITH A BLACK UAS APPROXIMATELY 2 FT TALL WHILE W BOUND AT 2,500 FEET 11 WSW IAH. ACFT TURNED LEFT TO AVOID UAS. FBI NOTIFIED.

UAS MOR Alert for I90

Type: Hazardous and/or Unauthorized UAS Activity

Date/Time: Jul 3, 2016 – 2330Z

A/C: (AA5)

Summary: Pilot advised he took evasive action to avoid a stationary or slow moving north bound UAS. ACN.”

To the frightening:

“PRELIM INFO FROM FAA OPS: PITTSBURGH, PA/UAS INCIDENTS/0013E/EC135, REPORTED TWO UAS ONE RED AND THE OTHER WHITE AT 2,500 FEET APPX. 5.5 MILES SE OF PITTSBURGH ARPT. AN IMMEDIATE CLIMB WAS REQUIRED TO AVOID THE UAS.

UAS MOR Alert for PIT

Type: Hazardous and/or Unauthorized UAS Activity

Date/Time: Jul 24, 2016 – 0413Z

A/C: (EC135)

Summary: ACFT IN VFR FLIGHT, AT 2500 MSL, FROM DOWNTOWN PITTSBURGH ENROUTE TO 4G4. APPROXIMATELY 5.5 MILES SE OF BVI AIRPORT, THE PILOT REPORTED TWO DRONES IN FRONT OF AIRCRAFT, AT 2500 MSL, WHICH REQUIRED AN IMMEDIATE CLIMB TO AVOID THE UAS. THE HELICOPTER CLIMBED AND LEVELED AT 3500. WHEN PIT REQUESTED MORE INFO, THE PILOT STATED HE OBSERVED TWO “”””DRONES””””, ONE UAS WAS RED AND THE OTHER WHITE, AND THEIR POSITION WAS 2.5 MILES FROM BEAVER FALLS CITY, “”””ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE OHIO RIVER””””. AT 0418Z, DISPATCH CALLED PIT APCH TO REPORT THE INCIDENT.  HELO 14 RESUMED THE FLIGHT TO 4G4, AND DID NOT REQUIRE ANY FURTHER ASSISTANCE.

The biggest take-away from this data is that the FAA’s job of educating drone users will never end.  No matter how good the education program was last year or last month, there is a continuous flow of new entrants to the market.  Everyone needs to keep their guard up, and continuously promote best practices.  Hopefully, a year from today, the numbers will be going down, instead of up.

UAS/FAA – Drones v. Airplanes: It’s Just a Matter of Time

FAA – WORD ON THE STREET . . . PEGGY GILLIGAN TO RETIRE

Planely Spoken prides itself on avoiding rumor, gossip, innuendo, or other forms of “fake news.”  On the other hand, sometimes the word on the street, or in these case, the “word on the runway,” is so compelling that we have to pass it on.

It appears that Peggy Gilligan, the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, has informed the FAA that she is retiring.  According to sources, her resignation email stated:

I have had the great good fortune to be a part of the FAA and the Aviation Safety organization during some of the most challenging — and most successful — times . . . . I am proud to have been a part of the safest time in this community and will watch closely as all of you build on the legacy we inherited from those who came before us. Thank you for letting me lead this outstanding organization and thank you for all you do for aviation safety every day.

Peggy Gilligan became Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety on January 5, 2009 after serving as the Deputy Associate Administrator in that organization for 14 years. In that position, she leads the organization responsible for setting, overseeing, and enforcing safety standards for all parts of the aviation industry – airlines, manufacturers, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, and any person or product that operates in aviation. These programs have a direct impact on every facet of domestic and international civil aviation safety.

The Aviation Safety programs under her direction involve more than 7,000 employees located in Washington headquarters, regional and directorate offices, and more than 125 field offices throughout the world. According to the FAA, she oversees an annual budget of more than $1 billion.

Anyone who has worked in aviation for any length of time has been impacted by her work.  The industry will miss her!

FAA – WORD ON THE STREET . . . PEGGY GILLIGAN TO RETIRE

DRONE DEFENSE . . . NOT SO FAST SAYS FAA

Unmanned Aircraft are definitely a transformative technology.  They open up the lowest parts of the airspace to productive use.  At the same time, they also create new problems for privacy and security.  As a result, interest in “drone defense” technology has been skyrocketing.  It seems that there is a new innovative defensive system unveiled by entrepreneurs on a weekly basis.  A new letter form the Office of Airports Safety and Standards, however, indicates that the FAA would like to slow down and coordinate this new technological stampede.

Earlier this week, the FAA’s Office of Airports Safety and Standards sent an open letter to all airport sponsors officially clamping down on independent testing of defensive systems.  The FAA notes in the letter that, while the Congress instructed the FAA to establish a pilot program to mitigate airspace hazards at airports and other critical infrastructure, that will be done through a Cooperative Research and Development program later this year and next year.  According to the letter, some airports had begun to enter into individual agreements with system manufacturers for testing or pilot programs.  The letter warns that they have no authority to enter into those agreements, and that if they do so, they could be “in violation of their grant assurances.”

The letter goes on to stress that there are still many issues that have to be worked out, not just at FAA, but across the entire alphabet soup of federal agencies.  The FAA stressed that there are strong concerns that “electromagnetic and Radio Frequency (RF) interference” will affect safety of flight and air traffic management issues.  In addition, the FAA warned that the technology still has a number of legal hurdles to overcome, including laws that “prohibit destruction or endangerment of aircraft and others that restrict or prohibit electronic surveillance, including the collection, recording or decoding of signaling information and the interception of electronic communications content.”

Anti-drone technology is still in the early stages.  A cautions approach may be warranted until the competing technologies have demonstrated their safety and effectiveness.  There is no reason, however, why the legal issues cannot and should not be worked out now.  The last thing we need is to yet again reach a point where proven technologies have to sit on the shelf while the FCC, DHS, and others start their rulemaking processes.  In addition, while Congress has demonstrated a desire to see this technology move forward, some of the biggest impediments are statutes that only Congress can modify.  Hopefully our legislators will be able to give these issues the attention they deserve after the elections are finally over.

DRONE DEFENSE . . . NOT SO FAST SAYS FAA

FAA/UAS – “The First meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee Will Come to Order”

On Friday September 16th, the FAA convened the first Drone Advisory Committee meeting.  Over 400 organizations and individuals applied for membership but, in the end, 34 were accepted.  You can see the complete list here.

Many members were the same as you would expect for an aviation advisory committee in Washington (e.g. AOPA, HAI, Harris, Lockheed Martin, ALPA, American Air Lines, etc.), but many were from nontraditional aviation companies like Facebook, Amazon, CNN, and Google [X].  State and local governmental entities were also represented, including the Mayor of San Francisco, The National Association of Counties, Los Angeles and Reno Airport authorities.  Of course, the UAS industry was well represented by Boeing Insitu, General Atomics, 3D Robotics, Matternet, DJI, Precision Hawk, etc.  As you can see below, there was a full house at the meeting.

meeting

The meeting was also attended by the most senior of the FAA senior management.  Administrator Michael Huerta charged the group with helping the FAA to determine the agenda for the DAC and the FAA as they look beyond Part 107.  He wanted the group to help the FAA “get it right.”

The DAC’s objectives for the first year include:

  • Understanding the current plans of the FAA to achieve full integration,
  • Advising the FAA Administrator of the gaps in those plans,
  • Reaching consensus on a five year plan for the FAA.

The DAC agreed to form two working groups to take on:

  1. The apparent disconnect between the FAA preemption authority over all airspace and the lack of FAA authority to deal with the misuse of drones (other than unsafe operations).
  2. Certification/approval of aircraft to fly over people and beyond visual line of sight.

Plane-ly Spoken believes the DAC will take some time to spool up, but has great potential to help the FAA find a way forward beyond Part 107 that will accelerate UAS integration into the US Airspace.  Count on Plane-ly Spoken to keep you advised.

FAA/UAS – “The First meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee Will Come to Order”

UAS/FAA – HAPPY PART 107 DAY

Today is a good day to go flying.  The sky is blue, the winds are calm, and Part 107 is now in effect.  Under the new system, commercial UAS operators can fly closer to people, closer to airports, and carry cargo.  They no longer need visual observers, can hand off control of their UAS to a second pilot while in flight, and can train non-pilots to fly.  They no longer need exemptions, COAs, or government review of the safety features of the make and model of aircraft.  Of course, no one is actually doing any of this today.

Over the past two months, the FAA has been doing all of the “behind the scenes” work to get the new systems up and running.  UAS pilot certificate tests and study materials had to be created.  Knowledge centers had to be prepared to give the tests.  The new waiver system had to be created, along with the entire infrastructure to handle the online submission of waiver petitions.  Procedures had to be worked out to handle UAS flight in class B, C, D and E airspace and how UAS pilots will interface with air traffic control.  The fact that any of this is ready to go on the first day is a major accomplishment.

Now that the FAA’s preparations are finished, the flying public can actually start making their own preparations actually use the system.  Pilots can start taking tests and getting their background checks.  Operators can learn how to get authorizations from air traffic control.  Businesses can start submitting waiver petitions for night flights or other, more advanced operations.  No doubt there will be a learning curve for both regulators and the regulated as they adapt to the new system, but we are confident progress will come quickly.

So, while the future is looking bright, the great irony is that the only people actually able to go flying today will be those who have a Section 333 exemption.

 

UAS/FAA – HAPPY PART 107 DAY

UAS/FAA – Flame Throwers and Glocks!!

Last month, we wrote about a new case that was going to require a federal court to determine whether or not an unmanned aircraft is an “aircraft.” The judge issued his opinion this week, and his decision is not a surprise to those of us who practice aviation law.

By way of background, the Court was asked to enforce an administrative subpoena issued by the FAA to Mr. Haughwout, who had achieved a certain amount of notoriety for several videos where he fired a flame thrower and a hand gun from a UAS.  The subpoenas were the first steps taken by FAA in pursuit of possible civil penalties.  Mr. Haughwout had refused to cooperate in the investigation or respond to the subpoena, claiming that the FAA has no jurisdiction over small UAS.

In his written opinion, Judge Meyer noted that federal agencies have broad authority to investigate whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that there is a violation of federal law.  Here, 14 C.F.R. § 91.13 prohibits the careless or reckless operation of an aircraft “so as to endanger the life or property of another.”  The Court held that “there can be no dispute that the weaponized devices shown on the YouTube videos at least give rise to questions about possible danger to life or property.”

Mr. Haughwout, however, claimed that this section was inapplicable because his small UAS was not an aircraft.  The Court rejected that argument, noting that Congress had provided a statutory definition of aircraft that was “stunningly broad,” and includes “any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.”  The Court characterized Mr. Haughwout’s claim that the statute could not be given such an expansive definition because it would include baseballs and pizza dough, as “creative.”  The Court held, however, that the FAA is not required to fully define the hypothetical limits of its authority before it takes action.  Rather the question is whether the specific action that is taken by the FAA is permissible.  As a result, the Court held that for purposes of this dispute, Mr. Haughwout’s UAS was an aircraft.

The Court did note, however, that if the FAA ultimately decides to fine Mr. Haughwout for flying on his own property in a way that cannot pose a threat to air commerce, some of his other arguments might be worthy of further consideration.  The federal government does not have a general police power, and ultimately its authority is limited to the reach of the commerce clause.  However, because the FAA’s investigative authority is so broad, the Court concluded that those arguments were best addressed in the context of a well defined and concrete factual record at some point in the future.

So, as expected, this is not the end of the issue.  The FAA will have to conclude its investigation and determine whether they want to formally pursue a penalty.  Mr. Haughwout, who has shown that he is not shy about fighting with the FAA, will ultimately be entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge, appeal to the NTSB, and potentially appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  As a result, we will no doubt be writing about this saga for years to come.

UAS/FAA – Flame Throwers and Glocks!!

FAA/NTSB: Bravo NTSB! Bravo FAA!

Several years ago, at The Airline Symposium, I asked Peggy Gilligan, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, who was on one of our panels,  “Why do the FAA and NTSB hate one another?”

After the laughter in the room died down, Peggy said, quite correctly, that the premise of my question wasn’t accurate.  She said something to the effect (and I’m not quoting her) that the FAA was the regulator and the NTSB was the investigator, with no regulatory authority and because the results of  NTSB aviation investigations typically resulted in recommendations to the FAA, with which the FAA doesn’t always agree, there was a certain amount of tension between FAA and NTSB .  An excellent answer. By way of footnote, it didn’t prevent me  from asking Peggy, the following year at the Symposium, whether the NTSB and FAA still hated one another?

Well, here we are in 2016 and the US airline industry has been, and continues to be, at an unprecedented level of safety and a model for the rest of the world. The last US airline accident was in 2009, when Continental/Colgan Flight 3407 crashed in Buffalo, NY.  This level of safety is no accident (excuse the pun).  It’s a function of industry and government, i.e. FAA and NTSB, working together.

The airline industry is so safe that Chris Hart, the Chairman of the NTSB and someone who, in the opinion of Plane-ly Spoken, is, by far, the most qualified and effective Chairman in the history of the NTSB, has broadened the focus of the NTSB to include a more pro-active, advocacy role, namely, spotting air-safety hazards before they result in an accident.  In doing so, Chairman Hart cited the increasingly growing levels of cooperation and sharing of information between the FAA and NTSB.

Make no mistake about it however, the FAA and NTSB won’t always see eye to eye in the future.  But that’s okay, so long as future disagreements continue to be the exception and not the rule.

We have the safest aviation industry in the world.  So long as industry and government continue to work together, the biggest winners will be the traveling public.

Thank you Associate Administrator Gilligan!  Thank you Chairman Hart!

P.S.  Maybe at The 2017 Airline Symposium, February 7-9, 2017, I’ll ask one of them “Why do the FAA and NTSB love another?”

FAA/NTSB: Bravo NTSB! Bravo FAA!

FAA Finalizes Small UAS Rules – Releases Part 107

The day the UAS industry has been waiting for is finally here.  The FAA has just announced the release of 14 CFR Part 107, which sets out the operating rules for all small unmanned aircraft.  This new regulatory system promises to open the skies to commerce in a way that was not possible under the restrictions that accompanied Section 333 Exemptions.  The new rules will go into effect 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register some time next week.

One of the major differences between Part 107 operations and operations under a Section 333 Exemption relates to pilot qualifications.  Part 107 creates a new type of pilot’s license, referred to as an Operator’s Certificate.  As a result, a manned aircraft pilot’s license will no longer be required.  In order to obtain an Operator’s Certificate, the applicant must:

  • Be proficient in English,
  • Be at least 16 years old,
  • Pass an Initial Aeronautical Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Test Center, and
  • Pass a TSA Background Check.

There is no requirement that the applicant obtain a medical certificate, pass a vision test, or demonstrate any flight proficiency.  The FAA estimates the application process will take 6-8 weeks to complete.

As with other types of pilots licenses, there is also a currency requirement, with the certificate holder required to pass an updated test every two years.  The FAA also has made clear that all of the civil penalty and enforcement mechanisms used against unsafe manned aircraft pilots will also be used against unsafe UAS operators.

On the operational side, Part 107 flights are limited to vehicles weighing 55 pounds or less, and must occur below 400′ of altitude and at speeds below 100 miles per hour.  The most significant restriction on Part 107 operators is the limitation of all flights to visual line of sight (VLOS) during daylight hours.  This means that the controller must be able to see the UAS at all times.  Binoculars, telescopes, first person view cameras and other vision aids are not permitted.

It is interesting to see what proposals did not make it into Part 107.  The most significant exclusion was the so called “micro-UAS” rule, that would have completely carved out all UAS weighing below 2 kg from any federal regulation.  The FAA has decided to pursue this issue in a more methodical way, and set the groundwork for a full blown micro UAS rulemaking with the conclusion of its micro UAS ARC earlier this spring.

Overall, the final rule is very similar to the draft rule released 16 months ago.  The altitude limit was reduced from 500′ to 400′, the eligibility age for the pilot certificate was reduced from 17 to 16, and the accident reporting requirements were clarified.  Interestingly, flights are permitted at altitudes over 400′ if the UAS is within 400′ of  a structure.  For example, if the UAS is used to inspect a tower that is 1200′ tall, the UAS can do so, as long as it stays within 400′ of the tower.  In addition, the rule has provisions allowing Part 107 operators to obtain waivers from some of the flight restrictions, such as night operations, flight from a moving vehicle, and operations over bystanders.

So, does the release of Part 107 mean that the Section 333 Exemptions are no longer valid?  No, all existing Exemptions are still in effect.  Operators can fly under their Exemptions or under Part 107 at their option.  Of course, only Exemption holders can fly between now and the day the rules actually go into effect in late August of this year.

For an in depth analysis of Part 107 and what it means for the future, join Jim Williams, Mark Dombroff, and Mark McKinnon for a free webinar on July 7 at 1 PM EDT.  You can register by clicking the following link.

FAA Finalizes Small UAS Rules – Releases Part 107

UAS/FAA: The FAA Has No Business In The Privacy Business!

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, oftentimes referred to as the second most powerful court in the country because so many cases involve the Government and end up in the Supreme Court, dismissed an appeal by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) whereby they sought to compel the FAA, as part of the small UAS rulemaking, to promulgate privacy rules [Link].

The dismissal was premised on procedural issues and, once Part 107 is published, there is little doubt that EPIC will re-file its appeal since it is pretty much a “slam dunk” that Part 107 won’t have any privacy rules. Noteworthy in the decision is a reference to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which mandates the FAA to enact “a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned systems into the national airspace systems.”  The Court, in its decision, also notes that the Act “is silent as to any privacy consideration.”

Hopefully this latter statement by the Court is a less than subtle message to EPIC that when they re-file their appeal after Part 107 is enacted, they’re going to lose it again, but this time on the merits.

The simple fact is that the FAA has no business in the privacy business, no legal authority to engage in it and no desire to become the watchdog of drone privacy.

The FAA’s role is safety.  Nothing else!  Just safety.  And, while they have their problems, they do that job better than any governmental aviation authority in the world.  The fact that we have the safest aviation system in the world is no accident. Simply stated, the FAA has been, is and should be all about safety.  Privacy is an issue which is and should be addressed at the state level.

The big problem at the state level is that way too many politicians in every state, urged on by privacy advocates, want to enact new rules and laws when, in fact, they may not be necessary.  Plane-ly Spoken suggests that before UAS privacy legislation is enacted at the state level, the individual legislatures step back and consider whether they really need new legislation.  We suspect that in many, if not in most, jurisdictions, existing laws, with little or no change, are perfectly adequate to address UAS privacy concerns.

And, oh yeah, what about those NTIA Privacy, Transparency and Accountability Voluntary Best Practices [Link]. While certainly an admirable intellectual exercise, the reality is that they’re actually an exercise in common sense.  The whole stakeholder process undertaken by NTIA has been well-executed.  It has certainly provided a forum for those focusing on privacy issues and produced an admirable set of recommendations for voluntary guidelines.

The practical reality is that most companies entering the UAS industry don’t need the NTIA to tell them how to exercise common sense.  Sure, there will always be those companies and individuals who, irrespective of whether or not there are recommended practices, won’t exercise common sense.  That’s especially true in the UAS world where the price of going into business is so low, both from an actual dollar, as well as a regulatory, perspective.

Whatever happens in the area of privacy, the one thing which is absolutely clear is that the FAA neither has, nor should have, any role to play.  Whether state legislators choose to forge ahead without taking a deep breath and conducting a thorough evaluation of whether they need any new legislation is best left to them.  Whether the NTIA process proves to be useful or simply an exercise in doing something because it’s “politically correct” remains to be seen.

The one absolute is that the FAA has no business in the privacy business!

UAS/FAA: The FAA Has No Business In The Privacy Business!