UAS legislation: boring, but necessary

Does red tape hold you back or keep everything tied together? That answer to that probably depends on which camp you sit in.

Debating the right and wrongs of this can be saved for another time, rather this missive wants to explore the arguments between the commercial UAS industry looking for speedier integration and national legislative organisations, whose job it is to make sure what flies in the air can do so safely.quadrocopter-394538_1920

Industry feels restricted by what it sees as hoops being put in place by organisations that have been caught on the hop by technology and struggling to keep pace with development.

Counter to that, the powers-that-be have in private, and in some cases public, said that they feel too little attention is being given by manufacturers as to how their systems should work in a 3D, commercial and civil airspace teeming with other forms of (manned) aircraft.

A statement from the US FAA administrator Michael Huerta on Wednesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee (or SACTHUDS, if I’m at liberty to create my own acronym) on UAS operations in civil airspace reiterated their case for careful integration.

Huerta was unequivocal as to where his priorities are, saying: ‘While the FAA is showing the flexibility needed to handle this exciting new arrival to aviation, we remain committed to our number one priority – a safe airspace. We do not want to stifle innovation, but we are never going to compromise on safety.’

Continuing, he stated: plane-330487‘Many UAS users may not be aware that they are operating in shared, and potentially busy, airspace. A pilot in the cockpit knows it. A UAS operator on the ground looking up may not.’

This means a registration process for commercial UAS, a process that in good time (for it will be), will set out what is demanded from operators and their machines.

He also warned ‘rogue’ operators that the FAA will continue efforts to prosecute UAS misuse, issuing the message that owners would ‘operate within the law or we will take action.’

In particular there is some sense of frustration among those looking to operate in environments with, shall we say, more methodical legislative methods, as rivals working in less restrictive theatres steal a fiscal march.

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