The person who made these comments either reads the sUAS News or is very knowledgeable
about the seamy underbelly of the FAA rulemaking process. I have asked many of these
questions in articles, FOIA requests, and correspondence with the FAA. I could go on for days
highlighting the inconsistencies, obstructions, and disservice done to the American people in
economic viability and national security. After the comments there are links to stories
published by sUAS News asking many of the same questions as well as highlighting similar
issues.

Register comments

https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FAA-2013-0259-3348

I’m not sure why this notice is being reposted at a different docket. My original comment on May 12, 2022 was at https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FAA-2013-0259-3314 but this is now 3347. Why is this being posted at a different docket so that people cannot benefit from my previous comment?
I’m going to repost my original comment from 3314 here and because of this new docket, which I’m perceiving as a bad faith scheme to evade my previous comment, I will add further commentary for
you to address at the meeting.

From my original 3314 comment,

The whole BVLOS ARC doing closed door work is completely antithetical to open government.
There were multiple subcommittees and work being done all out of the public eye and not on the
record. There were also multiple foreign noncitizens individuals and foreign owned companies
involved that were meeting privately seeking to influence the Federal government in its outcomes
while US citizens were kept in the dark and unable to participate.

Can someone tell me how the FAA employees, US citizens, and noncitizens involved in these closed
door meetings to influence the federal government were not violating the Foreign Agent Registration
Act? The Department of Justice webpage https://www.justice.gov/nsd-fara/frequently-asked-
questions states

“WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF FARA?
FARA is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to
national security. The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign
influence within the United States by ensuring that the United States government and the public
know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public
opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information. FARA fosters
transparency by requiring that persons who engage in specified activities within the United States on
behalf of a foreign principal register with and disclose those activities to the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice is required to make such information publicly available.”

“WHAT IS AN “AGENT OF A FOREIGN PRINCIPAL”?

An “agent of a foreign principal” is any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or
servant, or otherwise acts at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a “foreign
principal” and does any of the following:

Engages within the United States in political activities, such as intending to influence any U.S.
Government official or the American public regarding U.S. domestic or foreign policy or the political
or public interests of a foreign government or foreign political party.

Acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information service
employee, or political consultant.

Solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value within
the United States.

Represents within the United States the interests of a foreign principal before U.S. Government
officials or agencies.
See 22 U.S.C. § 611(c); 28 C.F.R. § 5.100.

WHAT IS A “FOREIGN PRINCIPAL?”

A “foreign principal” can be a foreign government, a foreign political party, any person outside the
United States (except U.S. citizens who are domiciled within the United States), and any entity
organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign
country. It can also include a foreign faction or body of insurgents whose legitimacy the United
States government has yet to recognize.
See 22 U.S.C. § 611(b); 28 C.F.R. § 5.100.”

“WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING FARA?

The penalty for a willful violation of FARA is imprisonment for not more than five years, a fine of up
to $250,000, or both. Certain violations are considered misdemeanors, with penalties of
imprisonment of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. There are also
civil enforcement provisions that empower the Attorney General to seek an injunction requiring
registration under FARA (for applicable activities) or correcting a deficient registration statement.”
The FAA needs to respond to this comment by explaining how the FAA, FAA employees, and others
complied with FARA. They also need to explain why any BVLOS rulemaking they are doing is free of
foreign influence (which will be hard when the FAA did it all behind closed doors).

PART 2 –
https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FAA-2013-0259-3349

Part 2 to follow up from the comment located at https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FAA-2013-
0259-3348

This is the follow-up with new commentary. The word character limit here is 5000 so I had to split
things up.

Start of new questions/commentary,

1.Why has the FAA failed to disclose the minutes, papers, documents, used and relied upon during
the ARC? All we have is this final document which has no telling how much foreign influence baked
into it. We will never know because it was all done off record as orchestrated by the FAA.
2.Why did the FAA want input to be done by email and not do the comments on the regulations.gov
docket? The FAA is intentionally trying to portray they will allow everyone to comment but in reality,
they want all of the material emailed to them along with the person’s full name. This allows for
censorship by the FAA and also allowing them to target the person, or the person’s employer, who
might not be invited back to any ARCs, FAA Symposiums, or the like. Regulations.gov allows for
comments anonymously and for the public to view the other comments and make comments on
them. The FAA knows this and uses regulations.gov all the time for notices, NPRMs, and other
similar things but here we have a email.  

  1. Why did the FAA choose to not have the BVLOS ARC meetings open and transparent on the
    Facebook or Youtube livestreams? Members of the public were not invited to participate or even
    observe. Meanwhile, the Drone Advisory Committee conducted public meetings that anyone could
    attend virtually and NOW the FAA is announcing “Members of the public who wish to view the

meeting can access the livestream on the following FAA social media platforms on the day of the
event, https://www.facebook.com/FAA or https://www.youtube.com/FAAnews.” Why was this not
done before during the BVLOS ARC meetings?
4. Why did you all not advertise in the Federal Register posting the ability for people to make comments on regulations.gov like I’m doing now? There isn’t anything about this method in the Federal Register posting.
5. Why did you not send this Federal Register posting out via an email news blast to everyone? On April 25, 2022, [email protected] sent out a newsblast where Mr. Merkle wrote a letter saying, “At the FAA, we’re eager to see you, and now, finally, is the time! Today I’m writing to invite you to join me, in-person, at the 2022 FAA Drone Symposium. This year’s event is taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on April 28.” I find it strange that Mr. Merkle is writing a letter emailing everyone an invitation to attend an expensive drone show (where a private company makes $$$) but Mr. Merkle is not communicating with anyone via FAA email or [email protected] but this federal register posting. Don’t you want the public to comment on this?

Isn’t this important?

  1. How is doing closed-door, off record, invite only ARC meetings safe? Intentionally depriving the
    public the ability to comment on the underlying documents, discussions, minutes, and similar used
    by the ARC IS NOT SAFE. The FAA, the same FAA responsible for the 737Max fiasco, ran the
    entire ARC in the dark out of the eye of the public thus preventing the public from providing any
    safety commentary. Also not allowing the public to make public comments for all to view and be
    further educated by prevents more robust discussions on BVLOS related topics. The ARC was a
    handpicked group that knows only as much as they know. There are others on the outside that have
    knowledge and experience also. The safe thing to do was to do open meetings for everyone to
    comment on things. Don’t you want to find all of the problems before someone dies? Isn’t safety your
    concern? Why all of these things designed to prevent robust discussion or identify safety issues?
    7. Do you all even have a Paperwork Reduction Act clearance for this email and full name method?
    8. Since my first comment regarding FARA in May, what has been done by the FAA to prevent future
    FARA related violations? What has been done to remedy the FARA issues I identified? Has the FAA
    discussed this with the DOJ FARA unit or should I? At the beginning of the ARC, did you notify the
    ARC members regarding FARA related liability?
    Stories published on sUAS News –
    Vetting companies and representatives of foreign companies nominated for rulemaking
    I have expressed qualms about not memorializing the various task/working groups, especially
    those headed by agents of companies with significant funding from the PRC.
    https://www.suasnews.com/2019/08/did-dji-bamboozle-you-too/
    https://www.suasnews.com/2017/05/no-foreign-rc-hobby-rulemaking-united-states/

Why didn’t the FAA memorialize ex-parte meetings, sidebars, and backroom deals? How would the public know what was agreed upon, by whom, and for whose benefit? Anything decided on or agreed to privately and without public knowledge in any public rulemaking setting is undemocratic and highly suspect. It is where the 250-grams registration and safety baseline came from.

https://www.suasnews.com/2020/10/rid-who-doesnt-like-to-ex-parte/
https://www.suasnews.com/2017/06/no-private-public-rule-making-congress-wait-drone-advisory-committee-secrets/
Public employees redacting their names from public documents acting in the public’s interest
during public rulemaking efforts?
https://www.suasnews.com/2021/07/remote-id-foia-2021-005150/
FAA management’s word called into question
https://www.suasnews.com/2014/07/hello-peggy-and-jim-new-foias-reveal-dod-vendor-agenda/

Unqualified people participating in the public rulemaking process
https://www.suasnews.com/2021/05/can-you-cut-and-paste-your-way-to-big-drone-money/
Lack of commercial representation
https://www.suasnews.com/2012/01/rcapa-petitions-faas-peggy-gilligan-for-inclusion-on-uas-arc/
Policy clarifications without an Administrative Procedures Manual
https://www.suasnews.com/2011/05/did-the-faa-arbitrarily-change-its-own-uas-nas-policy/
https://www.suasnews.com/2011/05/did-the-faa-arbitrarily-change-its-own-uas-nas-policy-part-2/

I would urge you to make your comments known.

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).