Even though everybody wants to get their hands on a drone and take advantage of this cool piece of technology, government agencies are trying to be cautious by imposing regulations that guarantee the safety of citizens. I personally consider this a very valuable effort, nevertheless, pilot and history professor Janet Bednarek seems to have a gloomier opinion about the Federal Aviation Administration, she said that “generally regulation happens after something really bad happens” and she mentions how often it is referred as a “tombstone agency”. Apparently the FAA “has never had a reputation for proactive enforcement” which for some reason, doesn’t surprise me much. Now, how can a UAV (unmanned air vehicle) cause a disaster? Well, there are many ways, but just to give you a simple and yet not commonly thought one, is by crashing it against an airplane’s windshield or provoking it gets sucked into the aircraft’s jet engine. The FAA reported, that there have been more than 650 cases of drones being spotted at dangerous proximities of manned aircrafts, by August 9 of this year. Many of these happened around airports.
Drones or UAV’s, which nowadays more commonly refer to multi-rotor helicopters, have become increasingly popular and they are being used by anybody anywhere, no matter the skill level or location. You don’t have to build it because you can buy it ready to fly out of the box and depending on where you are there might be nobody or no way to make you follow the FAA regulations, so it’s more about your own good judgment and responsibility.
The drone concept is not something new, radio-controlled aircrafts are in existence since late 19th century, it’s just that back then they weren’t commercialized the same way, the technology wasn’t probably as good as it is now and you had to built them yourself. There is an official governing entity in the US for people who fly UAVs since the 1930’s, called the Academy of Model Aeronautics, they work closely with the FAA and currently sum more than 175,000 members. With the current proliferation of drone culture I think is imperative that enthusiasts educate themselves, learn about the FAA compliances and understand where they come from, what is the criteria behind them, what are the implications of flying an UAV in an already crowded airspace. The standards for civilian operation of drones is available online, but the issue is not about making rules, but rather more about enforcing them, so I think that ultimately it all depends on the community being responsible, even more so if you are a newbie like me.
By Fervido Frias