FAA Control Over Commercial Drones Is Slipping

Flying Eye \ WikimediaFlying Eye \ Wikimedia

Amazon pushed commercial drone use into the limelight last December, but novel drone experimentation doesn't end there. In fact, it is getting very difficult for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep the crazy new, controversial, drone technology under wraps. If the agency doesn't update its approach soon the “FAA risks losing the drone war,” Politico reports.

Some, like the Minnesota-based beer company Lakemaid, and a Michigan floral company, suspended drone deliveries after the FAA stepped in. But this hasn't wiped drones from the skies. Far from it. Everyone from Martin Scorsese to dry cleaning operations have flouted FAA regulations. Politico describes the development of an underground economy “where rural farmers use drones to monitor crops with little risk of being spotted and where teenagers can use drones to check their neighbors’ gutters for a few dollars.” Anticipating this trend, an Oregon college is awaiting the state's approval to teach a commercial drone flights courses.

As the drones get cheaper, more and more commercial drones will likely seep through the cracks.

The FAA lags behind its five-year plan to incorporate drones into U.S. airspace. In December it announced the development of six testing arenas, but otherwise, the FAA's approach hasn't evolved much since 2007 when it declared commercial drone use illegal. Although the agency expects to incorporate drones in the long-term, an unconditional ban on the novel technology doesn't seem to be the right approach in the short-term either.

People are getting antsy. Ted Elliot, a former FAA general counsel, told Politico:

Most people want to comply with the FAA rules. But the more the FAA acts like a big daddy, behemoth government agency that is imposing excessive restrictions, the more the feeling of ‘I’m an American, they can’t tell me what to do’ kicks in. And that’s a real danger for the FAA.

Some have been taking advantage of lax, or non-existent, drone laws in other countries to try diverse projects. An American man is using drones to collect climate change data in the Peruvian rainforest. RT drone journalism gave its viewers a unique view of the Ukrainian protests. South African beer deliveries, unlike Minnesota's, were not shut down.

Privacy and safety concerns shouldn't be ignored, but FAA could speed things up (perhaps by making some of its deadlines). Demand for drones is growing. And besides, postponing growth and experimentation in the industry cost an enormous $28 million in economic growth per year according to The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems. 

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  • Pro Libertate||

    The right to bear drones shall not be infringed.

  • Almanian!||

    Why do bears need drones? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! NO DRONES FOR BEARS!

  • Rich||

    The right to *bee* drones shall not be infringed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who would even want to be a drone?

  • Rich||

    Apparently half the American population.

  • Raven Nation||

    *Rises and applauds*

  • AlexInCT||

    "More than", at this point....

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    Bra-vo, sir!

  • Paul.||

    The right to bear drones shall not be infringed.

    You laugh. I was picking my daughter up from school one evening and there was a guy there flying a rather high-end drone with a GoPro on a gimbal, all lit up, with colored LEDs, very cool.

    I walked over and got to chatting with him and after a very interesting technical conversation about the drone, I asked him what he did, he said he was in the videography business.

    We got to talking about that and the conversation turned to the regulatory side. At some point he got kind of cagey about how he was going to use it, so I didn't press him for details. Out of genuine curiosity, I asked him if there was a law banning drone use for commercial photography purposes. He said no, but carefully iterated that the problem was there was no regulatory structure for it. Therefore, in the absence of laws and regulations... he was beginning to suggest that it was... illegal.

    We have a large population of people that believe that which is not expressly permitted is prohibited.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Well, along those lines, Arizona is setting precedent by passing laws telling folks what they are allowed to do.

  • Almanian!||

    So when is the FAA going to step up and FINALLY address the Estes rocket scourge? These damned things have been around since well before I was a kid, and I don't see any regulation of them at all.

    If the FAA doesn't step in soon, someone's gonna put an eye out bring down a 747.

    If even ONE LIFE is saved....

    Please, FAA...for teh childrunz.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've been wondering when they'd start messing with rockets. After 9/11, when launching rockets with the kids, I always think for a moment whether someone is going to come get us.

  • ||

    Amazingly, bullshit panic hasn't seemed to have gone after the model rockets. I was shooting off rocket engines through PVC pipe well after 9/11 with no one seeming to care.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's almost as if no one cares what Episiarch says or does.

  • ||

    You don't have to be so blunt, Hugh. I do actually have feelings. Not that you care.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Maybe you should shoot a few rocket motors at Hugh? Then he would care!

  • SugarFree||

    I do actually have feelings.

    The boldest lie you've ever told.

  • ||

    If you're going to lie, lie bold, I always say.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was also slightly nervous once, about ten years ago, when my brother and I turned a Dobsonian telescope he had gotten (a 10" model) just for fun to look at a jet flying over. The telescope is really big, so it looks a little like a cannon.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Did you get any flak for that?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Fortunately, no. And trying to view a jet with a Dob is dumb.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    My pun failed....

    *runs from room, sobbing*

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Ack, ack, ack.

  • Paul.||

    I caught it... of course I can't prove I caught it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The latest issue of Popular Mechanics has an article about using a 3-D printer to make model rockets.

  • Almanian!||

    using a 3-D printer to make model rockets

    HAHA! The next thing you know, someone will be printing a TOY gun!

    HAHA! Wait, what?

  • playa manhattan||

    My 6 year old loves Rocket City Rednecks. He's convinced that our next rocket is going to be fueled by nitrous oxide and salami.

  • playa manhattan||

    I was asked to stop earlier this year when I was shooting rockets with the kids. Of course, they were modified to carry an explosive payload, so that's not really a good example.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That might be objectionable.

    It's harder to find places to launch them here. I just started launching some again with my daughter, but just low-power rockets so far. Back when my brother and I were launching them with his kids, we were edging into the higher-power models. We launched some three-stager nearly 3,000 feet up. So cool.

  • playa manhattan||

    For the multi stage, we used to have to do them at the beach, or we weren't going to see where they landed.

    Right at the water's edge, measure the breeze, and angle into the wind.

  • playa manhattan||

    My neighborhood shares a golf course with a Marriot, and that's where we used to launch after the last tee time.

    I wore out my welcome there, though.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    "Dammit - another burn mark on the 10th tee!! I'm going to get those damn kids...!"

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not to mention that you can leave a lot of trash on the ground if you're not a conscientious rocket launcher.

  • playa manhattan||

    No trash, no burns. The Marriott has a "dive in movie" at the pool on Friday and Saturday nights. There may or may not have been an incident during one of these events.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've landed some rockets in residential trees. That's about as bad as it gets. Except in the safety regard, when a rocket went up 1,800 feet, didn't deploy the chute, and came down within ten feet of us (which we couldn't have done trying to do it in fifty tries) and embedded itself about three inches into the turf. Yikes.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Heh.

  • Invisible Finger||

  • Almanian!||

    BOOO! BUZZ KILLER!

  • Invisible Finger||

    No matter how cynical you get, it's hard to keep up.

  • Almanian!||

    ain't it the truth?

    I haz a sad :(

  • Lord Humungus||

    the last time I shot a model rocket off, it was at a park... during a blizzard. The kids who were sledding thought it was the coolest thing ever.

  • SIV||

  • Pro Libertate||

    Schumer needs to watch October Sky.

  • Paul.||

    My guess is he did right before getting behind this legislation.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He may have gotten the wrong message, then.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...teenagers can use drones to check their neighbors’ gutters for a few dollars.

    They can see if the Wranglers I bought from Amazon are up there.

  • Alton Knutson||

    This one got me laughing pretty good.

  • Paul.||

    If you lived in my neighborhood, they'd be at a house one or two streets over, with an address with the same housenumber, but slightly transposed. That is if USPS delivered it.

  • db||

    UPS once delivered a handgun destined for a friend of mine to a known crack house a couple of blocks over. It was shipped by a gunsmith.back to him (which.is legal). They.never.would.have found mags for.it (STI 2011) but he and another.friend spent a tense half hour getting.the.package back.

  • Paul.||

    Wow, UPS... I've never had a hitch with UPS.

  • playa manhattan||

    UPS is damn near perfect at my house. It goes against everything I know about unions.

  • mr lizard||

    You know who else wanted to win the drone war?....

  • Hugh Akston||

    Darth Sidious?

  • Invisible Finger||

    The queen bee?

  • Almanian!||

    bagpipers?

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    *standing ovation*

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

  • Almanian!||

    you. BASTARD

    nice

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Nicely done.

  • Almanian!||

    OH! And like the Estes rockets aren't bad enough - how about the kids and those Cox and Testors airplanes*, huh? How about THOSE things?! Dangerous as hell, flying in a tight circle till you get dizzy and fall over, then the damned thing is in free flight - YOU'LL PUT YOUR EYE OUT!

    Or bring down a 747.

    We cannot rest until the Cox/Testor Peril™ has been addressed by the FAA.

    *does anyone fly these any more, now that the RC planes seen ubiquitous? The Cox Stuka was the SHIT when I was a kid - one of my friends had one - sounded like an angry bee, looked SO cool flying around, and around, and around....

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not anymore, but I've certainly gotten serious vertigo spinning around with one of those things as a kid. I so envied those with actual R/C planes.

  • Paul.||

    We don't call them R/C planes anymore, we call them Drones. Try to keep up.

  • playa manhattan||

    These days, it's all about RC helicopters. I lost my kid's on Christmas day not 30 minutes after he opened it.

  • db||

    Was.it.one of the.little ones.that don't have enough.ass to.overcome light breezes? I have one that I neqrly lost when it caught a slipstream about 20 feet up and I.cohldn't fight.the.wind. had to cut.the throttle and catch it.with a burst of.power right before.it.crashed.

  • playa manhattan||

    I have a couple of the little ones, and then the 3 footer that was on sale at Fry's. You can't use the IR controlled ones outside in daylight. I brought one to full power just as I lost comms, and there was no way to shut it down. I just watched it disappear on the horizon...

  • Raven Nation||

    I'm assuming the first time something goes wrong with a drone & it crashes into private property or injures someone that a bunch of liability lawyers will help curtail drone usage.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Great idea! Drone insurance to the rescue!

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Vee vill take that unter advissment.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Licensure, annual registration fees, black box recording, insurance.... you know, The American Way.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    That photo is going to prevent me from sleeping well tonight.

  • Lord Humungus||

    luckily nobody wants to see your naked carcass barely contained by the soiled sheets.

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    "mmmmmmumble, mumble... DRONEZ! THEY IS COMIN"!!!"

    *falls on floor*

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Wonder how many pounds of goodies drone over from Mexico every night? When media catches on to that, it will be field day for the usual suspects.

  • robc||

    Anyone want a house in 40243?

    $199,900 and its yours today!

    Heck, for reasonites, you can have it for $199,000 even.

  • playa manhattan||

    Sold. That's in the Bahamas, right?

  • robc||

    There is a beach house around the corner, so, ummm, yes*.

    *and by "yes" I mean "no".

  • robc||

    http://p.rdcpix.com/v01/l6033a643-m0m.jpg

    Not mine, that is the beach house a block from me.

    Its even bolder colored inside.

  • playa manhattan||

    What, exactly, makes it a "beach house"? Is there sand on the living room floor?

  • robc||

    It looks like it belongs on the beach.

    Bright, beachy paint. Big, nice beach deck, even the plants in the yard look more beachy.

    Trust me, its a beach house dropped into flyover country.

  • robc||

    Also, a beach mural on one of the walls inside it.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    MY EYES!!!!

  • robc||

    You click the link, you take your chances.

  • ||

    Middletown, Kentucky?

  • robc||

    Yes.

    Or The Bahamas, as far as playa knows.

  • robc||

    Also Louisville.

    Buy the house and you get the privilege of paying TWO city taxes.

  • db||

    Is that close to Knob Creek Gun Range?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Innovation is all well and good in theory, but let's be adult about this.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not you, too. Is commenting too degrading, forcing you to turn to porn?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    forcing you to turn to porn?

    Unfortunately, I can make more money washing* windshields at major intersections.

    *"It coughs up the money, or it gets the squeegee."

  • RishJoMo||

    Yeash that is kinda crazy when you think about it dude. Wow.

    www.Anon-VPN.com

  • RishJoMo||

    Yeash that is kinda crazy when you think about it dude. Wow.

    www.Anon-VPN.com

  • plusafdotcom||

    I just hope the FAA or some other government agency launches a "War on Drones."

    That will guarantee their success and proliferation...

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