I’ve written about this phenomenon several times over the past almost 20 years. The FAA is getting ready to make great strides in progress, and then all of a sudden, like a bolt out of the blue, a roadblock comes into play. This time it is RID: “If we don’t get Remote ID correct, it’s my view that we will never have UTM,” says FAA UASIO’s Jay Merkle at the latest DAC 2.0 meeting. (Thanks to Bill Carey for the quote.)

The old saw –

It’s about the “safety of the NAS!” Sure, you keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel good. If that were the case, the FAA wouldn’t have made an arbitrary policy change that banned commercial drones. All that misstep accomplished was lots of dronescofflaws and the extrication of the pilots and the aviation culture of safety from drones. That was self-inflicted wound number one and if anyone is still buying the “safety of the NAS” BS mantra, I have a “like new” bridge for sale between San Francisco and Marin County.

The repeal of Sec. 336

The latest round of regulatory egg on the face will hopefully be a wakeup call to the folks who took that RC hobby Benedict Arnold show on the road. If they don’t realize they fell victim to a low-grade parlour trick, they are either delusional or may want to think about detoxing it on up. Most of the heretofore free world is suffering draconian regulation without so much as a by your leave, and the bag-holder (citizens) found themselves disenfranchised.

That Egan guy is a malcontent! –

Sure, the cabal, who the hell is this cabal he keeps talking about? Well, the drone Judas crew making money off of the rubes, and the folks at the Chinese toy company that had no restrictions put upon it by the FAA who by the way has done a great job of hobbling the domestic industry. This gaggle of halfwits will tell you that I am an unhappy person and there is just no pleasing me no matter what they do. Hogwash!

People say I paint a negative picture, and I say that if you want a pretty picture, bring me a prettier model. If they started doing right by the citizens of the US of A and built up an industry instead of tearing it down, I’d be praising the positive.

These same people have got no choice but to work the snow-job. Anyone actively going along with the program is just trying to grift the community, including the mandated customers, members, and get at the VC graft before the toy company steamrolls over their segment.

You are witnessing time three or four recycle of the old “what do we do now.” I usually offer up the pearls before swine solutions to folks that have a vested interest in being counterproductive. AUVSI has been working that plan for almost a decade, and some of the firebrands that used to work there have turned unmanned dysfunction into a career.

The folks on the hill are aware, as is/was 20% of the membership the AUVSI lost. The lobby groups have invested millions in the multibillion-dollar drone industry, and they are making a swamp out of the ecosystem for profit.

Allowed to go unchecked, and they’ll have mom-and-pop locked out with type certification and Part 135 certification soon enough. Golly, we
should convene a blue-ribbon committee to figure out why General Aviation is dying. Do we know anyone who could gin up a good bus schedule?

The FAA is now mocking the rubes, as the inner circle (VC money paid for lobbyists) has done their bidding and not even a year later are being told that the BVLOS dream is 6 to 10 years out, and that is on the fast track. The VC folks have been given a heaping helping of false hope too with the cellphone app dreams, but the BVLOS, and over-people, pot-o-gold rainbow just grew by at least a roll of quarters.

Interesting side note brought to my attention by #UTM Slidewinder Paul Pocialik (@skysideup on twitter) from the FAA UTM ConOps – 2.5.2 Performance Authorization. Look it up: that and the history of the FAA’s involvement in UTM will bring you right down to Chinatown.

The upshot –

  1. The million or so RC hobbyist here in the US got totally disenfranchised and it is going global.
  2. The FAA does what they want at the pace they want with impunity.
  3. The cabal etc. is willing to do whatever it takes to move product and get customers and members.
  4. The industry is floundering with BVLOS, UTM, ID and Tracking, DAA (back again several times from mid-2000s) and aircraft certification all up in the air.
  5. Someday this chicanery is going to end.

I don’t know if there is even a point to this section since the people mentioned
earlier that can effect change are not interested. The bottom line: we lack advocacy,
competent leadership, and regulatory accountability. But here goes:
Any new regulations or policy from the FAA must be validated by science.
Enforce existing FARs or rescind.

No new rules that could stifle U.S. innovation or STE(A)M education opportunities.

Call for Congress to enact an American National Security drone act.

Any drone, UAS, or UAV imported from overseas with more than two propellers would henceforth be reclassified from toy to “aircraft,” taxed and register accordingly.

Any companies with PRC state investment would be banned or have to prove through two designated investigators and the DoD that the company’s technology could not be used for unintended surveillance or data collection. Furthermore, a provision that U.S. based drone, UAS, and UAV companies get matching funds and subsidies from the U.S. government from taxes levied on imported aircraft.

No use of proxy companies in the U.S. would be allowed to circumvent the act.

I get emails from folks consistently suggesting that we (the royal “we”) investigate different companies, policy, people, claims, and shortcuts that undermine a square game. I’d love to, but we aren’t CNN, and it takes over-people-waiver money to spend the time digging in on this.

The same with the book: I need several months to work that tell-all effort. The other thing for the reader to consider is the marginalizing that comes with each story. Not that we (the editorial “we”) are scared off from telling the truth or asking questions that promote a level playing field for small business, job creation, and STEAM education, but sometimes you’ve got to worry about feeding the monkey.

It is up to you to decide where you fall on the dysfunction spectrum. Is it a free beer from the cabal at a carpetbagger show or a playing field that facilitates an American UAS ecosystem that you can support your family on?

By 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).