Ag And Helicopter Pilots Decry Drone Rule Change

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A recent federal court decision (PDF) that the FAA has no authority to require drone users to register is not sitting well with many aviators. Helicopter Association International issued a statement (PDF) this week saying it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling, adding that helicopter pilots “are deeply concerned about our ability to fly safely in airspace where pilots could encounter any unmanned aircraft, be it commercial or otherwise.” The FAA registration program provided a means to educate the public about the hazards of careless drone operation, HAI said. The group asked Congress to return authority over drone operations to the FAA, “to ensure the safety of the National Airspace System.” The National Agricultural Aviation Association also issued a statement this week, asking Congress to reverse the change. Agricultural aircraft are used to treat crops, fight fires and combat pests, consistently operating at the same low altitudes as drones, the NAAA said.

The NAAA also agreed with HAI that the FAA's drone registration program helped to educate users about the hazards of careless drone operations. “We believe that the FAA's drone registration program serves to protect everyone in the air and on land,” the NAAA said. “NAAA now urges Congress to grant the FAA governance and oversight over all forms of aircraft.” The FAA retains the authority to establish no-fly zones, regardless of registration. Re-establishing a drone registration program will require that Congress first changes the law, to give them the authority to do so. As of Tuesday, the FAA’s website for drone registration was still up and running.

Comments (3)

How is FAA going to help when they are facing budget cuts and possibly be forced to privatize? Sometimes it seems that half the drivers on the road do not have a clue about the rules of the road or common sense and especially concern for other drivers. How is air travel going to be any different?

Posted by: Don Lineback | May 24, 2017 6:42 AM    Report this comment

I sympathize with those pilots who are unhappy with this ruling, but until the FAA can come up with a way to define what a "drone" is without including amateur aircraft modelers this is the correct ruling. Modelers for years have operated without interference of normal airplane ops and do not deserve to but included in such registration nonsense. Unfortunately with the way congress works the AMA will have to continue to fight politically to keep the exemption that is in the law now.

Posted by: matthew wagner | May 26, 2017 12:28 PM    Report this comment

At the most fundamental level, the responsibility of the FAA is to "... prevent stuff from falling out of the sky and onto your head."

I suggest all questions concerning UAS operations begin with 49 U.S. Code S 44103 - Registration of aircraft.

That said, yes -- a UAS is device subject to FAA rulings because according to Title 14, a UAS is an "aircraft."

Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
PART 1--DEFINITIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS
S1.1 -- General definitions.

Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.

A considerable amount of legal "horsepower" addressing issues of Constitutionality beyond the US C of A would be needed to overturn existing and settled law and the resultant regulations.

Posted by: Phil DeRosier | May 29, 2017 7:33 AM    Report this comment

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