The Registration Task Force Debacle, A Retrospective

The goals of the Registration task force and “emergency’ rulemaking  –

FAA Statement –

“Registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system,” Foxx said.  “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”

Every day, the FAA receives reports of potentially unsafe UAS operations.  Pilot sightings of UAS doubled between 2014 and 2015.  The reports ranged from incidents at major sporting events and flights near manned aircraft, to interference with wildfire operations.

“These reports signal a troubling trend,” Huerta said.  “Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly.  When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.” 

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Consequences? Now that’s a hoot. Readers of the sUAS News already knew there were few if any consequences based on pilot registry information.

https://www.suasnews.com/2017/07/faa-not-enforce-action-based-pilot-registry-information/

I’m on the fence about the education part. At this point, I’d reckon someone would have to be hiding in a cave in Afghanistan (or possibly a shut-in, living down the street from a military academy in Pakistan) without any form of modern communication for you to argue that you were unaware of rules for flying drones. Whatever the case, the point of sale (POS) drone registration was shot down by Best Buy and Wal-Mart. A one-liner that discussed rules and FAA on a document that had to be signed would be a powerful enforcement tool.  

Was this folly just a feigned administrative remedy with the safety of the NAS crammed in the middle of two people in the back seat of an automobile? If you go back and read through the prepared statements and cheerleader rah-rah stuff the “advocacy” and lobby front groups parroted, you’d wonder if we are in some kind of Ingmar Bergman screenplay.

The list of purported “experts,” some of whom have since burrito bombed out, left for the quiet life or to work for companies who didn’t lose one hundred million dollars plus after shooting themselves in the foot based solely on conjecture.

Task Force Members include:

Nancy Egan – 3D Robotics
Richard Hanson – Academy of Model Aeronautics
George Novak – Aerospace Industries Association
Chuck Hogeman and Randy Kenagy – Air Line Pilots Association
Jim Coon – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Sean Cassidy – Amazon Prime Air
Ben Gielow–Amazon Retail
Justin Towles – American Association of Airport Executives
Brian Wynne – Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Parker Brugge – Best Buy
Douglas Johnson – Consumer Electronics Association
Brendan Schulman – DJI
Paul Feldman – General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Dave Vos – GoogleX (Co-Chair)
Tony Bates – GoPro
Matt Zuccaro – Helicopter Association International
Mike Fergus – International Association of Chiefs of Police
John Perry – Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors
Brandon Declet – Measure
Randall Burdett – National Association of State Aviation Officials
Sarah Wolf – National Business Aviation Association
Baptiste Tripard – Parrot
Tyler Collins – PrecisionHawk
Gregory McNeal – Small UAV Coalition
Thomas Head – Walmart

Then there is the justification for regulating mall kiosk toys extrapolated from this report (then MITRE): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a532158.pdf

I was just in China, and, in a nutshell, the U.S. drone industry has been denied access to a large part of the purported 82 billion USD market as the FAA dithering made us take a decade off. Some of the much-heralded drone firsts were first done a decade or so ago.

A warning to other would-be grousers and objective reality buffs, bringing up points like these gets the marginalization effort turned up to eleven, and I can feel the heat generated by those consternated. However, anyone who thinks I am going to all of the sudden feel bad about pointing out the dysfunction and absurdity of an airspace integration process with these types of conspicuous problems is either a nut or in hard-core denial. All I am after is FAA policy that will allow us to be leaders in this technology, and if you can’t wrap your head around the concept, I just don’t know what to tell you. I’ve been highlighting some of the same issues for just about 14 years now; not going away. Try the mantra for yourself… Small business, jobs and STEM.

The justification for the ID and Tracking claptrap is a retread of the same wheel of suffering. You don’t have to be the house dick (or a shill for the Chinese toy drone industry) to figure out that the “emergency” registration scheme fell well short of the mark. I don’t want readers to misconstrue this analysis as an effort to assign blame for any previous waste(s) of time and taxpayer money. No, I am attempting to offer up some commonsense solutions before this before this becomes the next ill-fated calamity or casualty of political fallout.

I have to give credit where credit is due, and the UASIO starting out with ID and Tracking requirements is like a breath of NUAIR. However, we must think about the practicalities of enforcement first, or we may very well find ourselves back at square (peg) one.  WTF?! I know, I know, consider it the new Egan charm offensive where I lavish praise and promise not to swear in mixed company.

You could be reading witticisms much like these all the day long on Twitter if you follow @thedronedealer

If you have a little extra time and want to read up on some good fiction, umm, I mean how to destroy an industry politically –

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/10/22/2015-26874/clarification-of-the-applicability-of-aircraft-registration-requirements-for-unmanned-aircraft

 see also Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA-5730, at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014) (affirming that the statutory definition of aircraft is clear and unambiguous and “includes any air aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small.”). Because UAS, including model aircraft, are aircraft, they are subject to FAA regulation, including the statutory Start Printed Page 63914requirements regarding registration set forth in 49 U.S.C. 44101(a), and further prescribed in regulation at 14 CFR part 47.