RCAPA :- Comments on Registration and Marking Requirements FAA-2015-7396

RCAPAnew

On behalf of the membership, unrepresented hobbyist and the public at large.

The Remote Control Aerial Platform Association (RCAPA) contends that the unaffiliated RC hobbyists stakeholder was disenfranchised in this instance, as they had no credible and or qualified representation.

Members of the task force were not properly vetted and have limited or no experience in the fields of engineering, aviation policy and or FAA rulemaking. It is no secret that the majority of Task Force members used lobbyist to secure their inclusion.

Hobbyists and the public are left to speculate that the lack of lobbyists or moneyed political influence equates in this instance to being silenced.

It appears that the FAA may have been caught up in the “drone” hysteria. Yes, we understand there have been more reported drone “sightings”, but do we know if this is as a result of the public becoming more aware of drones or something dire? We can only guess, because none of the data from “near miss” incident packages (FAA order 8020.11) have been shared with the public as part of the recommendations.

How are we to discern if the purported “sightings” even met the criteria for Critical, Potential or No Hazard situations?

In regards to the information put forth by MITRE, we are very disappointed with its apples to oranges comparison being included in the recommendation. It lacks intellectual honesty, in that projectiles from explosions (shrapnel and projectiles) are compared to drones. Material density is a factor that was omitted.

True a 250 grams metal projectile has a chance of being fatal with the correct variables, but the same weight of foam or plastic may not. Making the blanket comparison and inclusion of the report and its broad-brush speculation, prove the earlier point about the lack of engineering praxis.

Furthermore, we did not see any credible scientific peer reviewed data relating to actual real world kinetic energy tests to support either the FAA’s or MITRE insinuations included in the task force recommendations.

The FAA has been looking at the model aviation issue since July of 1992 and it is hard to understand why there is a lack of scientific data that may be able to give us a better understanding of what is truly transpiring in the NAS. Instead, we are subjected to a knee-jerk “rush job” with little or no facts to go on.

The fines and criminal penalties are out of line with what is the norm in aviation. They are punitive and heavy-handed and constructed in a way to preemptively dissuade people from enjoying a wholesome and safe hobby. Beyond that, there are the privacy implications especially for minors that have yet to be worked out.

The AMA had tried to enter a dissenting opinion into the recommendation about some of these same issues on behalf of their membership, however, that was denied by the FAA. Besides sounding undemocratic, it calls into question the FAA’s (Government representative) definition of “consensus.”

There is too much that is wrong with this scheme and implementing it in anything close to its present form is a mistake. We all deserve to have our voices heard in the public rulemaking process.

Respectfully, Patrick Egan

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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).