Wings of Drones Still Clipped by Restrictions

The relatively young drone industry, already amassing huge following from hobbyists and industries alike, and poised to bring about great economic gains, sees its wings still clipped and grounded by existing government rules. The FAA has at least already presented its proposed new drone rules that may pave the way for commercial drone use, yet with still a lot of limitations. The question is how open can government be so as not to overly regulate and restrict a viable commercial drone industry?

First, there is indeed an urgent need for government to issue safety restrictions for the use of drones. As noted in an AP article ran by the Portland Press Herald, one of the main issues concerning safety in drone flights is the limited ability of flying without any human on board to “see and avoid” other aircraft. Another concern is the risk of the link between a drone and its operator being broken, thus causing a drone mishap or collision which no one ever wants to happen, but they do.

Further, one other important matter is privacy. According to the same article above, even with the proposed safety restrictions, drones can transform urban infrastructure management, farming, public safety, coastal security, military training, search and rescue, disaster response and more, the White House said in a presidential memorandum on privacy released in conjunction with the rules. The memorandum lays out measures federal agencies must follow to guard against abuse of data collected in their drone flights. Read more here:

The White House

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One insightful article by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation highlights the “good, the bad, and the ugly” concerning the FAA’s proposed drone rules, and here are some of its points to ponder:

  • The Good: The FAA appears to have a genuine appreciation for just how much of an economic and societal benefit drones can bring. In its document, the FAA notes the positive impact on search and rescue and law enforcement activities, as well as the safety benefits of using drones in place of people in potentially dangerous activities. Also, the article notes how the FAA document has the term ‘minimal regulatory burden’ or a variant thereof is a key theme throughout.
  • The Bad: The limitations FAA wants enforced put commercial stakers such as Amazon out of the picture. Specifically, the rules state that a commercial drone must remain in line of sight with its operator, plus other limitationsAccording to the article, however, the point is, innovation and entrepreneurship are most powerful when allowed to develop without overly prescriptive barriers.
    • The proposed rule that drones be within the line of sight also limits the use of drones for aerial photography services, as well as in other commercial applications, such as in farming.
  • The Ugly: While the rules are still in the process of being finalized, with the FAA opening the table for public comments on the rules, there can be an onslaught of competing interests from politicians, advocacy groups, and others. 

This is the challenge posed by too much government regulations that American industries face. It has been said that the US has become a “regulation nation, ” according to this article by The Washington Examiner, with President Obama having issued 406 unusually costly regulations over his first six years, for an annual average of 68 – nearly 50 percent more of the rules dubbed “economically significant” by OMB (Office of Management and Budget).

Just recently, for example, is the government ruling on net neutrality. According to the Huffington Post, the basic tenet of net neutrality is that all people should have equal and unrestricted access to the Internet. To ensure this credo, after much anticipation, the FCC reclassified broadband Internet access providers on February 26 under what is known as Title II regulation to treat them as “common carriers” with “the basic duty to serve the public indiscriminately.” It goes on to quote Julia Boorstin of CNBC saying: Proponents of the new rules say regulating the Internet…protects consumers and innovation. Opponents say it stifles innovation and restricts capitalism. Essentially, the debate has become ideological and partisan. Read more here:

Another example of the effect of government regulations that may exceed its best intentions concerns AR-15 ammo bans. A recent report says word that the federal government is considering banning the manufacture of steel-tipped bullets has produced a run on them. The ammunition in question has a green tip and is known as 5.56mm NATO cartridge. Read more at:

As it is often said too much of a good thing hurts, so with too much rules and regulations. Instead of growth, too many restrictions put unnecessary burden on creativity, innovation and economic progress.  Publisher James of The Droneologist said,  “I truly hope the final rules will indeed see a body of more flexible regulations that will allow the commercial drone industry to finally fly unhampered through the winds of technological advancement and change.”


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