By KATHARINE HIBBARD Logan Daily News Reporter
LOGAN — The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release new rules regarding the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
“The regulations are going to loosen, meaning that people can make money with them,” said Logan Police Officer Jason Gadrim. “Right now you’re not allowed to make money with them.”
Gadrim, who was approved for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) in October, has been authorized to fly an unmanned aircraft system to assist with police work. According to Gadrim, the Logan Police Department will not be affected by the new changes except that he will be required to get a tail number for his aircraft; everything else was already approved during the rigorous application process. The FAA had already established set rules for military and police use.
“The changes they’re talking about are for commercial use,” said Gadrim. “Like I was supposed to be able to file for use of it privately, like I would be able to go and take aerial photos and make money off of it.”
Dick Honneywell, executive director of the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, listed such uses as inspecting bridges, correctional facility surveillance, and other helpful services such as monitoring crops.
Until these new rules are established, use of UAS by hobbyists is for the most part unregulated.
“Any Joe-blow can go out and buy one and use it right now,” said Gadrim of hobby fliers, who do not have to adhere to the strict standards that Gadrim does when using his UAS for police work. “They ask that you stay under 400 feet, and they ask that you stay within line of sight, and that you yield to all manned aircraft.”
Gadrim expects the changes to mean that hobby fliers would have to register the UAS if they intend to make a profit from them, but until the announcement is made no one is entirely sure.
“They’re only regulating commercial,” said Gadrim. “I don’t understand that. If you’re not making money with it, they don’t care. Why not make it the same across the board if they’re worried about the safety of them. A kid takes one, puts it up over his neighbor’s house and crashes it into his neighbor’s car. Why is that any different than someone who has put thousands of dollars into one to go make money? His is going to be way more safe than some 16-year-old kid who goes and buys one, but they’re only wanting to regulate the people who are wanting to make money on them.”
The announcement regarding the new rules is expected to be made by the end of the year.