“The department continues to be bullish on new technology,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a Feb. 24, 2016 release about the FAA’s efforts to expand the safe integration of unmanned aircraft. “We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System. The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”
The FAA was announcing the creation of a new rulemaking committee to develop recommendations for a regulatory framework that would allow certain UAS to be operated over people who are not directly involved in the operation of the aircraft. The committee starts work in March and reports to the FAA on April 1. No fooling.
Let’s break down Foxx’s statement.
I can see why the Department of Transportation is so “bullish on new technology.” Since Dec. 21, 2015, the FAA has more than doubled the number of registered aircraft. A Feb. 26 FAA News tweet states, “Nearly 370,000 registrants can’t be wrong: Drones need ID, too.”
— The FAA (@FAANews) February 26, 2016
It would hard not to “recognize the significant industry interest.” More than 6,000 new aircraft registrations PER DAY might have a tendency to skew one’s perspective. And 6,000 is likely a low average as I’m sure many people have more than one UAS. That amounts to a lot of shiny new toys just begging for FAA oversight.
To be honest, I don’t have a great deal of heartburn over the FAA announcement, with one exception.
“The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”
An FAA release touting “a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation.” Really?
That sentence makes me think of the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA). Signed by President Obama on Nov. 27, 2013, after hugely one-sided voting from Congress, SARA gave “the FAA until Dec. 15, 2015, to adopt changes to the Federal Aviation Regulation Part 23, which governs the certification of many general aviation aircraft.”
At the time, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta was on record favoring a revised Part 23, believing the changes would double safety at half the cost.
How about throwing some “flexible regulatory approach” magic pixie dust toward those of us who fly IN aircraft? What about SARA?