If it weren’t so ludicrous, it would be laughable. Attached is a FOIA request from the FAA that shows how an egregious regulatory oversight got systematically swept under the rug. In a nutshell, investigations were closed, ignoring a 10-plus month lapse in adherence to the stipulations in the BVLOS waiver. Has the lofty aspiration of safe UAS NAS integration gone out the window?

“Adherence to the provisions of this Waiver establishes a level of safety that ensures safety within the national airspace system.” Hard to do when you left the company ten months prior, no?

You can look at the “investigation” paperwork and deduce that there were no ramifications for jeopardizing the safety of the NAS in the air or people and property on the ground. To my knowledge, a telephone call between Diana Cooper and Jeremy “The Amazing Grogan” put any regulatory and safety qualms to bed. Neither party visited the sites, viewed the logbooks, or interviewed a sampling of PICs to
dispute claims or discern the safety ramifications of the waiver infractions. After all, wasn’t data the point of the Pathfinder program?

So what were the remedial actions taken? Revoke the Part 107.31 BVLOS waiver, fines, and criminal charges for the supposed experts. Was anything put in “The Amazing Grogan’s” file highlighting how his lack of due diligence endangered the FAA’s safety charge? No! Even though PrecisionHawk was out of compliance for months, and no one was in charge of ensuring that the operations were safe they were issued a new waiver in short order. How many months have you been waiting for your Part 107 favor waiver? Does this incident suggest or even prove that waivers in some industrial applications are superfluous?

At this point, anyone “settling” or paying an FAA fine is a fool. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but sometimes reality has a way of doing that. Between this poop show, the ham-fisted cut and pasted up for profit favor waivers, and folks with lobbyists getting preferential treatment in the queue brings the need for a waiver dairy farm into question.

The FAA doesn’t like me because I make them look bad. LOL

On the local level, the head of the FSDO didn’t read his email, missed the original complaint while safety violations were transpiring, and was unaware of BVLOS operations in his FSDO jurisdiction. I had to call back and ask how the investigation was going to find out it wasn’t. When the investigation got fired up, it consisted of a phone call. I asked the investigator if she viewed the logbooks or met with the person in charge of safety listed on the waiver. She didn’t know who the right person was listed on the waiver and told me the FSDO didn’t have the resources to leave the office!

I asked them to reopen an investigation to determine what was happening. I suggested something novel like an office or flying site visit, as the safety of the NAS was hanging like a loose tooth while chatting on the phone.

I am the only one buying the FAA’s safety of the NAS mantra.

Okay, you bag-holders, that $82 billion is out there just waiting to be had!

@TheDroneDealer on Twitter

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).