AVmail: November 30, 2015


Letter of the Week:
Personal Airspace

I would register my drone prior to flying it above 200 feet AGL. I think it is clear from U.S. v. Causby (1946) that the FAA has no authority to regulate “the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” of my property, which in the Causby case is at least 83 feet AGL. Just as my driveway is not part of the federal highway system, the airspace above my property, at least to my treetops, is not part of the NAS.

Name Withheld

Regulation by Association

Unfortunately, the FAA includes the toy model airplanes of 185,000 Academy of Model Aeronautics members in its new registration requirements for unmanned aerial systems. Since 1936, RC modelers have presented little to no problems for manned aviation. Virtually all of our flying is done at designated registered flying locations.

There are approximately 2,357 AMA clubs/sites in the U.S. and its possessions. Many are within a five-mile radius of towered airports, have been for many years, have not had conflicts with manned aircraft, and do not present a hazard to them. All things we fly are already required to have either our AMA number or the owner’s contact information.

You can see by the record the AMA and it members are clearly not a problem. Yet we are being included by association.

Mike Flanagan
AMA 382605

Registration Won’t Work

A drone registration program completely misses the mark. The only thing it is certain to do is add to the regulatory bureaucracy. At best, a database might help identify airspace violators after an accident or incident, but it won’t prevent one.

As for educating all drone users about airspace: Forget it. That approach might get some traction with commercial users who have something to lose if they screw up, but it is a lost cause for consumers buying cheap camera drones to look over their neighbors’ fences.

Even licensed pilots manage to violate airspace with some regularity, despite their training and the knowledge that they will likely be tracked and held accountable. Do we really think consumers will do better?

The only way to keep drones out of airspace where they don’t belong is for manufacturers to make them characteristically incapable of operating in it. The best solution is probably GPS-based geo-fencing, but even something as simple as automatically sensing barometric altitude on engine start-up and computer-restricting operation to 400 feet above that level would be helpful.

Manufacturers will figure out the most cost-effective technical solutions but only if they are legally required to do so. That is where government could actually be effective in this effort.

Steve Ratkovich

User Fees Panned

Establishing user fees will result in less use of flight following and IFR flights by GA aircraft. This will lead to more accidents. The result will be more regulation of flight in the U.S.

This will result in a marked reduction in GA flying.

Examine FlightAware. The majority of the IFR flights are jets and high altitude fliers.

Recall what happened when the government decided to institute a luxury tax on all expensive cars and boats. It nearly destroyed the boating industry.

In other words, the ripple effect of ATC user fees will be less ATC use by GA aircraft and more accidents due to scud-running or other such things.

Remember the majority of the users of ATC services are the airlines and the business jets. Increase their fuel tax. Do not establish user fees.

Tom Pelz

Isn’t It Ironic?

I don’t relish the thought of user fees for ATC services, but I think the hostility in the GA community is rather ironic.

I get the strong impression that many in GA are against government, against high taxes, against government subsidies, and in favor of free enterprise and personal responsibility. But when it comes to ATC, they want a government system subsidized by the vast majority of the non-flying population.

Hypocrisy? Maybe. Narrow self-interest? Certainly.

Rollin Olson

Nose Under the Tent

If you lift the tent and allow the camel’s nose in, you will have to sleep with the camel! We pay enough as it is!! Stamp “FAA” on a hammer, it will cost you $100.

Jerry Wheeler