Is The Fiesta Over?

Is The Fiesta Over?

I used to think the federal rulemaking process was just too complex and sometimes
too cloudy for laypeople to understand. Still, at this point, I am starting to believe people like paying other peoples money to get treated like garbage by public employees.

How come this (commonsense) rulemaking is taking so long?

As AUVSI’s past CEO and a current drone consultant used to say, “we don’t want to
work ourselves out of a job.” And when you are bringing down $500K a year like the
current CEO, bootlicking and lapdog-ing are lucrative endeavors. But, as the song
goes, It’s a Long Way to the TOPP if you want to rock and roll!

CES Drone Panel 2015

Oh, but I heard the drone symposium “thought leaders” (I forget how much the
sponsorship costs to get thought leader billing as prices vary by sideshow) say the
exemption process is starting to get less complicated; the FAA is working hard. If
you believe that, you may want to stop smoking the Parmesan. The exemption
process meets the definition of arbitrary and capricious and has nothing to do with
the safety of the NAS or what is best for the American people.

Those consultants and “experts” with connections get favors as they build
relationships in the UASIO and or affiliated offices. Some FAA employees have gone
so far as to get a jump on the private sector off-ramp and moonlight on the job.
Favors do not come cheap, Rube, you’ll have to be talking to the money for an expert
cut and paste exemption like this one –

Allow me to break it down for the Best Buy flyers and BVLOS ARC members –
91.403(b) says, “(b) No person may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance,
or alterations on an aircraft other than as prescribed in this subpart and other
applicable regulations, including part 43 of this chapter.” 91.403 days, do what’s in
Part 91 subpart E.

In the FAA order on the FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program, it says for
maintenance violations:

On page 222 of

On page 200 of

this is the table that explains the penalty which is specific to the type of entity and

It just goes to show with enough money and the right connections that the NAS
safety adage goes right out the waiver window. While on the subject, does anyone
know if “The Amazing” Grogan is still king of UAS waivers, or did he get a

How I stopped worrying and started to love bogus billion-dollar forecasts!

Anyone buying industry forecasts while at the mercy of such an arbitrary regulatory
rulemaking process has as much luck appealing to a village shaman (or Sangomas if
you know where to find one) for a good old-fashioned rolling of the chicken bones
or reading of the tea leaves. I’d suggest covering the bases with both if one has the
VC funding to afford such sagacious counsel. Or, you could just cut out the middle-
shaman and hit the tables in Vegas, baby!

If you’re just some crumb bum without money, you are shit out of luck. But, on the
other hand, any Johnny or Janie come lately with enough Silicon Valley VC money to
hire the right lobbyists can participate as an SME on a panel or administrative law-
making committee. As a bonus, they have sway over your industry, and that is
irrespective of having a viable product, plausible business plan, or expertise in a
related field. Heck, a CEO with a colossal failure (over a $140 million) under his belt
is worth two engineers.

Oh, why so down in the tooth? The FAA administrator just announces a BVLOS ARC,
so I’ll be getting my burrito delivery any day now, right? I say hogwa(r)sh. Lest we
forget the big push for Beyond Visual Line of Sight recommendations with the
BVLOS Action Team hastily assembled by the FAA in 2015. This was supposed to be
a fast-track effort to come up with BVLOS use cases and ideas on integrating drones
into the NAS. The nice lady representing the motion picture folks said their drones
were safe because they had GPS on them. Who needs data when you have lobbyists?
Remember, Congress mandated (made a law) that the FAA fully integrate drones
into the NAS by September of 2015. The BVLOS in-action team was a busy work
exercise to get Congress off the FAA’s back with recommendations submitted by the
end of 2015.

Without any data to back up its assertions and assumptions, the FAA
just said ATC wasn’t ready and the deadline came and went. The “experts” and
“advocates” went back into hiding, as they were busy telling people, Part 107 would
be out shortly, and you could do what you wanted or quickly get an exemption to fly.
No shortage of eggs on the face there.

Anyone telling you that drone delivery is two years away is possibly ill-informed, in
on the con, a liar, or perhaps indulging in the Parmesan cheese smoking pastime.
As far as I know, I was the only person to submit a white paper on behalf of the
RCAPA with use cases and supporting safety information. Golly, there were drone
BVLOS use cases back in 2015? The task of setting up a SharePoint site for the
documents went to AUVSI, and apparently, it was a technological feat that they
could not execute. It makes it hard to see/read the submitted work and supporting
documentation. #fasttrack Yes, that is the same AUVSI that gets paid to run the
virtual FAA UAS symposium and charges $150 a day to attend the government
education forum. Not like other federal government groups offer much of the same
for free, i.e., the Air Force, NASA, DoT, etc. On the Brightside, the paid sponsorships
for access to public employees got removed from the prospectus. Ethics: We do
the right thing, even when no one is watching.

The RID thing is a scam, and I will be astonished if it stands in a form recognizable in
what we are subject to today. Did we stop to get buy-in from the FCC? No! How
about the cellphone providers? Do you think they are all in on the privacy and 4th
amendment stuff? The big names already had problems and said they are cutting off
access to real-time location information. What about law enforcement use? Riley v.
California and or possibly Carpenter v. United States may highlight a few pitfalls in
the ill-conceived and haphazard FAA rulemaking.

Why didn’t concerned parties bring these points up during the public comment
period? Good question; you must understand that the FAA is under no obligation to
change one word of the rule due to public comments. They are some perfunctory
procedural stuff that says they are supposed to address comments, but if no one
bellyaches, you can keep those administrative procedures omissions on the DL. So
how do you get a concerned or interested party not to bellyache? Easy, you offer the
defender of freedom and or champion of the RC hobby a chair warmer seat on a
committee. The chair warmer will keep the old yapper shut or risk losing
opportunities and goodies like exemption/waiver favours, insider misinformation,
and other things they can peddle to the disenfranchised and unwashed masses. Or
just be part of the problem in-crowd, aka thought leader or expert sponsorship level
eligible! I make no claims to being an expert or frequent stayer at the Holiday Inn
franchise, but I have been around long enough to know how the rulemaking ruse
works or doesn’t work.

I want to give a big shout of encouragement to Earl Lawrence. Even though Mayor
Pete is demanding heads roll on the Boeing 737 Max debacle. I hear that Earl is
being considered for the top slot of Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety after
Ali resigned. Good luck, and I hope the investigations go in your favour and clear you
and your favourite subordinates from any implications of wrongdoing even though all
of those innocent people died in crashes.

@TheDroneDealer on Twitter if you have the stomach for the unvarnished

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).