The American Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) just imposed new rules on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators requiring them to register ‘drones’. The FAA must be hopping that the registration requirement will increase the safety of all airspace users.
But will it?
MiG’s UAV analysts think that requiring UAVs to register will not enhance aviation safety and security. The new and very easy to fly small radio controlled aircraft are bringing hordes of new operators into the airspace, some of whom don’t know the rules and apparently don’t care. They’ve flown their toys into aircraft flight paths, over crowds and into emergency scenes like wildfires. At best, registration will allow the FAA to identify owners after their drone causes harm – it will certainly not do much to prevent or mitigate risk and damage.
Furthermore, like guns and green lasers, compliance of the kind required by the FAA will only apply to the law abiding owners who will actually register their toys. So we think that this mass-registration will fail to improve safety because rogue operators won’t register, and will continue flying their toys dangerously close to people and aircraft.
What would work?
FAA rules have long required that all manned aircraft be able to withstand bird strikes. But there are no similar rules for withstanding Micro UAVs or drones.
There should be.
Weather balloons fly without notice because their payloads must be constructed to cause no more damage than a bird. If all consumer drones were constructed to the same specifications, they too would cause no more damage than birds. The FAA would still prosecute irresponsible operators but would not face the claimed safety threats. Commercial or ‘civil’ UAVs could be bigger because they must be flown by certified pilots who know and follow the rules.
That’s actually a safer plan than the decades old hobby aircraft rules and when have you ever heard of a remote controlled aircraft crashing an airliner? But the FAA’s bureaucrats seem to be reacting harshly to burden civilians rather than complying with the law requiring logical rules on a schedule the FAA has never met. That’s a focus on publicity rather than safety.
MiG is offering an entire line of expertly researched and analyzed UAV reports. Ask us about this new, exciting and challenging market.
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