No More FAA Personnel Junkets

The cake-eater article readers may have learned a few things like, why I would waste my time asking all of these questions when I could be writing articles about important subjects like what brand of selfie-drone is best for not making your butt look big.   

Number 1

What happened to the 2015 Congressional NAS integration mandate? 

This mandate still remains.

We are rolling up on September, and that is going to put us out 4+ years on the mandate that would have had the FAA integrate drones into the NAS. 

These sites are important because they will provide valuable data to us safely integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace by 2015, as required by the 2012 FAA reauthorization.

FAA makes progress with UAS integration

Well golly, September 2015 came and went. What was the SNAFU? Why would the cabal go along with any of these new roadblocks when the FAA has been unable to clear out the barrier? Ironically, I told the dude who wrote the proposed language on behalf of AUVSI that, without any ramifications for inaction (take away funding), the deadline would come and go. For those of you who may have read the linked article, I also offered advice about the test sites not being funded. And who has ever heard of anything getting done on the federal level with no funding?  

Whatever the reason, I don’t see how new UASIO manager Jay Merkle’s going to England to talk about UAM is going to accomplishing the Congressional 2015 NAS integration mandate.  As an aside, anyone who thinks that flying car fantasy is going down anytime soon is hitting the pipe. We can’t get 251-gram drones integrated in the NAS (with a mandate) in 27 years; you really think we’ll be elevating in SF in 2023? The takeaway (sorry Jay): no taxpayer-funded vacation without fiduciary justification that pertains to the 2012 reauthorization. 

What on God’s green earth was Earl Lawrence doing at the Paris Airshow? Purportedly, he was kicked out of the UASIO, and rightfully so, as the office is—and I am being generous here—a shit show. That may sound like course language, but I use it in a reactionary sense when pondering why the head of the office would repeatedly dodge attempts to see the office’s progress reports. Even folks in the office reported that folks in charge were playing games. Doesn’t sound like anyone is too proud of their work to me. 

Well, you can see where the guy(s) heading up the office may want to play all of that good news close to the vest, but even public employees with the low-level folks, with titles like UASIO SUPERVISORY MGMT & PROGRAM ANALYST, are unable to counter edicts from AUVSI middle managers. I guess when your association is throwing down $822K a year in lobbying money, you get to call the shots, including how much the uneducated drone end-users pay to get in to the FAA/AUVSI symposium to have access to federal employees. No conflict of interest there! I’m wondering what the minimum lobby spend is a year to get callback… 

Sure, most of these catastrophes are in the past, with the exception of the upcoming England junket. However, wouldn’t his time be better spent in the office? Reflecting back on the cake-eater questionnaire –  

Who came up with Buzzy the Drone, and how much did it cost the taxpayer?

The idea for Buzzy the Drone was developed by an FAA team. No costs were incurred.

So, it would appear that what happens in the office is a much better deal, and the almost $500K a year spent on travel could be better applied elsewhere. Heck, we don’t even know when the UTM will be up and running. 

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Some may remember my mentioning the regulatory wheel of suffering. The three poisons or the three unwholesome roots in Buddhism refer to the three root kleshas of Moha (delusion, confusion), Raga (greed, sensual attachment), and Dvesha (aversion). 

It is all there minus the junkets! 

Just ten more followers on Twitter @TheDroneDealer and I get to go to camp. 

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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).