The View from the Cheap Seats

I’m going to insert a big, bold, stunning, and brave “I TOLD YOU SO” right here! God knows I wish it were just good old-fashioned frustration talking here. Still, it is hard to write things off to failure when supposed visionaries, high-dollar “experts,” and lobbyists can be so inept.

On September 5, 2018, in a speech to Interdrone in Las Vegas–The preferred show when Ex-Administrator Huerta was on the advisory board–the following statement is noted:

Acting Administrator Elwell stated, “But right now, the FAA’s hands are tied by a law that says we cannot require remote ID on model aircraft. This isn’t a sustainable situation. Until we can set remote ID requirements that will be universally applied to every drone…until we can make sure everyone is following the same rules inside the system…full integration just isn’t possible.” He also said Congress knew this was an issue, and he was hoping for a legislative fix soon…” maybe as part of the FAA’s next reauthorization.”

Congress, a month later, did exactly what he asked.

From Politico and testifying to Congress on September 26, 2019:

As for drones, Elwell suggested the delay of a proposed rule on remote identification is partly Congress’ fault. The reauthorization nixed an exemption for model aircraft, which Elwell said: “caused us to basically start almost from scratch on writing the provision.” He also pointed to technical and law enforcement issues.

By and large, the test sites are an unfunded failure, and the UAS IPP’s (where’s the data FAA?) are close behind. Mr. Elwell is either confused or a public storyteller, and a lot of folks should feel anxious about this development. This is indeed a sad state of affairs for would-be, law-abiding drones as a servicio and Fortune 500 (and those aspiring to be) companies.

You have to ask yourself if you are realizing your drone potential in the AUVSI industry, forecasted to be $82 billion. We’ve come so far that it is almost undeniable that the “advocates” and “experts” are killing it! Heck, perhaps they already have killed it?

I have been beating up on a few of the lobbying firms lately since they have been laughing all the way to the bank for several years now without much to show in terms of tangible results. Sure, the one-off IPP waiver sounds good, but that’s hardly something scalable or available to the rest of us. Amazon and Google hired poorly and have paid dearly for it. I know folks quip that it is political, but they were going to be flying in 2017, and that statement was made when their guy was in the Oval Office.

3DR, Airware, PrecisionHawk, KittyHawk, and Airmap all threw their money away too–although granted, PHawk did get a sweet Mulligan on their BVLOS waiver. I’ll be doing a follow-up story on how the FAA (Dan Elwell, Earl Lawrence, Jeremy Grogan, the FSDO managers), ALPA, AOPA, HAI, et al. were made aware. Up to the time of publishing this article, no public recognition about the 10 months of waiver non-compliance has yet to come through.

I think that any people that do not divest themselves of any of the lobbying associations, advocacy associations, or consulting groups that championed the Sec. 336 repeal are funding their own demise. If you were in Las Vegas, it would be a safer bet to make a lay down there, rather than waste more good money.