FAA – Show Me The Accountability

Next time the FAA says we need data someone needs to speak up about accountability. I used to do it, but I don’t go to the shows anymore because I find the bullshit hard to stomach. These spectacles have morphed into a highbred multilevel marketing/self-help seminar. The shows present the appointed “premium” board (formerly diamond or platinum) member/sponsor message that usually reflects the seasonal FAA regulatory charade. This roadblock message is then followed up on and reinforced by the selfie-blog set. Hard to believe that this late in the game anyone would buy this nonsense.

The selfie-blogs have evolved from a poaching and parrot model to Pravda. We haven’t even come down off of the ID & Tracking is the key to drones flying BVLOS and over people mantra, let alone the useful idiots braying that a Sec. 336 repeal would finally give the FAA the power to reel in the bad actors or enforce their short-sighted and poorly crafted regulation. The FAA got a taste of it with the Trappy travesty and has never looked back.

Now we see the FAA is circling back to the tested but obscure “safety of NAS and we need data!” I’ve been asking what type of data the FAA would like since before the UAPO (now UASIO) was a twinkle in a bureaucrat’s eye. When we started with ASTM and RTCA circa 2004/5, standards for things we had no data to support. I also inquired about what they were after before the policy clarification of February 2007. The FAA had no problem trotting it out even though they didn’t have any data to back up or support the need for the arbitrary commercial ban. That move was akin to the FAA getting out of the UAS lead mobile and leaving the keys in the ignition with the engine running. Our Chinese friends eventually got in that Camaro and drove away.

Even during the fact-finding sUAS ARC the FAA said they needed data, but they couldn’t take any data from illegal activity, nor could they use a test or matrix that the folks from NASA proposed. When Richard Prosek took over the reins of the UAPO, he parroted what was by then a tired old saw: “we need data.” Thank goodness he didn’t hit us with Nick Sabatini’s old bumper sticker worthy “Do No Harm.”

At UVS International in Paris, I asked Mr Prosek if the UAPO had developed a matrix to capture the needed data; he said “No.” I suggested that maybe they could use the GAATA survey, but he said that he was unaware of it. I followed up saying that the RCAPA had some data, and we would be willing to share depending on what they were looking for. He said they didn’t know what type of data they needed. I asked if they had any ideas pencilled down on the back of a cocktail napkin, or a possible inclination about what data they needed? He said no, but he had only been on the job for a few months.

Can’t just dump this one the FAA as the same NASA testing matrix was presented to the members of the Small UAV coalition circa 2015. They collectively decided that it wasn’t worth spending even $75K+ as a group to have something solid the drone industry could point to that bolsters their position in the eyes of regulators or Congress. It was so bad that the nice lady from 3DR said, “We’d rather let the FAA pay for it.”

So, next time you hear the old “We need data,” you might ask, what happened to all of the data collected for the 2015 Congressional NAS integration mandate?

More information on the FAA GAATA survey –https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation_data_statistics/general_aviation/

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