sUAS News Twitter followers may have seen me lamenting about some of the latest FOIA requests made by us to the FAA. The newest query made on March 11, 2019, had to do with the number of “current” Remote Pilot Certificates on file. Below is a cut and paste of the reply:
In reference to your request for information via FOIA.
Question: The number of “current” Remote Pilot Certificates on file.
Answer: The FAA does not maintain a database that shows the number of RPC holders who are current.
I find the first paragraph a little puzzling, as this seems to be something that one might want to keep track of for funding purposes or excuse plausibility when testifying to Congress about the reasons behind the latest 737 self-certification fustercluck.
Paragraph two is where things get interesting. “As of 3/15/19, 7,306 individuals have taken the RPC recurrent knowledge test.” If we look at the numbers from March 31, 2017, +/- 39,000 people had Remote Pilot Certificates. Yes, give it a reread.
We are talking about a drop of over 80%. Recurrent test takers (if you are the glass half full type) are 18.7%—and they passed, I assume.
This information can only mean a couple of things. One, the estimates for both pilots and valuation were so overblown it is not even funny, or the compliance issues are mushrooming way out of control. Whatever the case the numbers are almost too hard to believe at first blush and serve to question the millions spent on the UASIO office budget or even all of the money NASA is spending on the grand UTM.
I have been suggesting for some time now that we determine what is transpiring in the National Airspace System (NAS) on any given day. I am still a firm believer in using science to identify the needs before we implement knee-jerk regulation that hampers our competitiveness or spend money designing and building elaborate and expensive systems we may not need.
This latest bit of information from the FAA only serves to confirm the notion that the airspace integration effort could benefit from better oversight, participation from vetted SMEs, and the scientific method.
If you don’t follow the @suasnews or @thedronedealer on Twitter, you may want to think about rectifying that.
With thanks to Dronetribe for the blue line.