No FAA UAS Regulation In 2014


I often hear, why don’t you tell anyone about this stuff or, it is just too fantastic and obscure for folks to believe. I do, I write about it and disseminate it here at the sUAS News. Major media outlets are very cautious about producing anything deemed too negative about the Federal government.

I believe that journalists (though not trained as a professional), should give a voice to people that have no voice in rule making and laws that will adversely affect their future ability to make a living.

sUAS/sRPAS had the mantel of aircraft foisted upon it. Yes, I see the community is running back to UAV, but that nomenclature is no longer applicable as the 2012 reauthorization language defined them as an aircraft by law. How did this happen? Well, that was another folly in a long line of follies and indignities suffered by the business and hobby community. Is it directly attributable to a lack of educated participation in the integration process? Who knows, but those running the dying show are on the DOD vendor payroll.

The notion of the politically esteemed Congressman Bagofdougnuts working into the wee hours of the morn on legislation that best suits his constituents is laughable. It is almost as probable as attending a DoD UA show and selling aircraft right off the floor to the various branches of the military without an insider working on “fun”ding.

Here’s how the play goes down –

The lobbyists filter what their clients tell them to write (usually right in line with the earmarks), and that is what becomes legislation. Legislation with the right pressure gets passed. Often, the only thing the lobbyist excels at is perpetuating the problem for his or her children to take up after retirement. So to surmise, you spend more years paying folks millions of dollars to undo what a bunch of folks spent years and millions of dollars to screw up.

The other bumblers are either busy making a name for themselves with no regard for consequence or the detriment of the general interest. There are certain orders that hide disorders and here we have had plenty.

So, we must pose the following question… Are they drones, aircraft, or model aircraft? The FAA likes to vacillate between the definitions when it supports their sky is falling message. Just like everything else we can’t have things both ways. They are either safe or a menace. We do have paperwork that states that they are not deemed as a hazard to the NAS by the FAA. They will point to the numbers and say fair enough. The vogue numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. Those are the same numbers from 2008 with people flying RC in the NAS. There was no problem then, but now we have to be in the high hundreds of thousands with no commercial fatalities or few fatalities depending on the definition du jour.

Since there are parts of the FARs that don’t apply. The FARs are a slapped together bunch of tripe built by special interest and based on collective feelings. (See LSA) Made up safety numbers and laying the blame on dead pilots. Insert trite pirate movie quote and you are less apt to make the politically connected aerospace manufacturers angry.

The 20-century regulatory model isn’t going to work moving forward into the future of aviation. Not opinion as we have witnessed a whole bunch of nothingness in the regulatory process. How many folks have been injured or died over the last 7 or 8 years in the U.S. engaged in SAR all while complying with the FARs? Same question posed, but injuries and fatalities employing UAS for the same? I don’t have the statistics handy and I don’t believe this is one of those place If the FAA and the stakeholders (see the list of folks on the current UAS ARC for relevant airspace stakeholders), are truly concerned about safety; manned SAR missions should be banned because of the high risk of loss of life or, at the very least evaluated on a case by case basis… sound familiar to anyone??

(See graphic)

The FAA has viewed UAS with contempt with the tried and true and suggestions of oppressiveness like “not in my airspace!” At a cost of lost and missing people’s lives, jobs were saved. Mount Hood is an excellent example of high-level bureaucratic buffoonery in action.

Why would the FAA let Global Hawk (BAMS now Triton) and the General Atomics line up fly? How about all of the DoD hand me downs with radio conflicts? Is it really about the safety of the NAS or safety of their job/career?? You can push that crap off on the kiddies, but anyone that knows how the Rube Goldberg machine works isn’t buying. Even a cursory forensic investigation of yearly budgets and progress reports from the UAISO would be very telling. The FOIA request was made for the information, but we are still waiting.

Does the FAA keep making the unsafe situation they created even worse by

cherry picking definitions to fit a fluid narrative –

Near misses are trotted out as yet another reason for crawling forward. Again, if you are going to make these incongruous claims then back it up with applicable procedure.


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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).