Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Who Put the Whistle on the FAA Plow?

How many times have we heard that the FAA needs/wants data, and every time the data comes from sources not on the payroll, it appears to contradict the urgency, money, and manpower necessary to stretch the NAS-integration dying show out for almost 30 years.

Some light housekeeping and supporting information: The maps referenced in this article were created by William McNeil, at www.directionsmag.com
the numbers are by county and include 40,000 RPC holders that have not taken the Recurrent Knowledge Test. https://www.suasnews.com/2019/09/recurrent-remote-pilot-certificate-part-107-numbers-down-73/

McNeil says he is working on getting the updated data, so stay tuned for new maps in the future.

In almost every instance that the FAA has a chance to mandate up some tomfoolery that they can collect data on, they fumble. What? Why would they do that? So they can go on junkets and tell people that the ginned-up numbers indicate that GA and the rest of aviation is growing, that the NAS is statistically safer, and that they need more money and people, as well as the DC differential.. Understand that some of the FAA personnel make more than folks toiling away in Congress.

The data in these maps makes me wonder whether the FAA NAS integration roadmap was a cellphone app. Before you laugh, it is entirely plausible, since the other apps–i.e., LAANC and KnowB4UFly QA/QC process–are not so good.

I look at the maps and think, who needs blanket UTM, LAANC, or 5-mile separation from airports, RID, privacy concerns, and a whole host of other freaking nonsense, all of which has effectively kept a lid on UAS technology and a thriving domestic business sector? I look at the maps and think, no ADS-B; why? To overwhelm what?

Heck, we don’t know if that dude in Pershing County, Nevada is even current, do we?

However, he still needs RID, UTM, and waivers? Why? To think that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the past almost three decades!

Where is the oversight? Any fair-minded person perusing the map should be able to deduce that IPP and BVLOS opportunities abound throughout most of our great country. There is a giant swath of the country that should be buzzing with FARM DRONES! It is no secret the Test Sites and UAS IPP have been, and are, basically the private playground of a) those who have paid lobbyists, and b) consultants working inside the FAA, or retired from the FAA. It is a built-in incentive program for a new career with a federal-pension safety net. So maybe it is about safety after all?

The maps show why the old system of calling the tower worked for droners. It did not work so much for the folks in the tower since the union was upset because their members didn’t get paid for servicing an aircraft. Poor old Aircrap (and the other selfless app companies) almost bankrupted the company to make sure those controllers got their due.

These maps also help to illustrate that waiting for technology solutions to integrate all UAS smoothly everywhere, in all airspace, is folly. This is a hard lesson we should all remember well from the early days of the UAS NAS integration effort. A near ten- year pause, or grounding, is understandable in the 737 MAX case, where there is a need for an aircraft type and/or industry to be examined and fixed to remedy a broken process since 346 souls were lost. The only death we have from a commercial drone to the best of my knowledge was that of an engineer working on the Schiebel S-100, and that tragedy was five years after the FAA’s arbitrary 2007 drone ban.

When you look at the numbers, it only makes sense (and cents), #UTM, as the reason why the FAA would need to bring the RC hobbyist to heel. Amazon, Google, Walmart, et al, have a vested interest in finding someone (the taxpayer) to build out the infrastructure for burrito delivery, and that is the only way that s#!tshow pencils.

We (the editorial “we”) hope that this visual representation helps to educate the community on the problems at hand, as well as explain why the lack of qualified oversight and representation tends to produce poor regulation.

Our brethren in other countries should use these as examples of things to avoid.

Patrick Eganhttp://patrickegan.net/
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).