2 Easy Ways the FAA Can Promote Drone Safety
The FAA's message on drone safety has been inconsistent over the years. Here are two quick things it could do to properly promote drone safety.
Get FAA Certificated Pilots Involved in the Industry
We can do this two ways: (A) take the pilot license suspension/revocation possibility off the table, for the time being, for individuals who have pilot licenses and (B) allow commercial flight operations for flight instructing.
Removing the Possibility of a FAA Pilot License Suspension/Revocation
Pilots stand to lose a lot if they get in trouble with the FAA. Not only can they be fined, they can also get their pilot license suspended or revoked. This creates not a safer environment but actually decreases safety, because the most highly experienced and knowledgeable group of people who can operate safely in the national airspace are on the sidelines in fear of losing their licenses or in the worst case, their livelihood. This creates a “vacuum” of knowledge and also a vacuum in the culture of drone operators. You can still keep the licensed pilots in check with large civil penalties.
Allow Commercial Flight Instruction Under the Section 333 Exemptions
One of my clients received this statement in their exemption from the FAA, “The petitioner also requested authority to conduct UAS training. At this time, the FAA is unable to authorize UAS operations for training until a further assessment is completed. When the FAA completes its review, we will proceed accordingly and no further action will be required by the petitioner. However, the petitioner is permitted to train its own pilot in commands and visual observers in accordance with condition no. 14 and the other conditions and limitations in this exemption.” The FAA is not exempting individuals or businesses to do commercial flight instruction.
Furthermore, the FAA clarified in an opinion that public universities are prohibited from obtaining public COA’s for education because education is not considered a “core function” of government.
Since FAA certificated pilots are currently prohibited from commercially doing flight instruction of drones, how do individuals or businesses get practical flight instruction? Are they expected to just go out and fly at some uninhabited baseball field and learn by trial and error (crash)?
This article was first published on Jonathan Rupprecht’s Drone Law Blog.