Like It or Not, Drone Licensing Is Coming
It’s better for drone hobbyists to start the discussion about common sense rules for licensing than to wait for your Congressman to direct the FAA to take drastic action.
Things Will Get Scary
What could happen if we do nothing? What would legislation forced on the hobby look like if we just sit by and do nothing? This is where things can get scary. What if the FAA throws its collective hands up and decides anything below 500 feet is open for local jurisdiction.
Some amateur legislators erroneously read the Causby SCOTUS decision to assume just that. They are wrong, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to implement laws to regulate drone flight in their jurisdiction. Can you imagine if the floor for regulated airspace was increased? Can you imagine the byzantine mix of rules that change every few miles?
Calm down, it won’t happen without a change in federal law:
49 USC § 40103 - Sovereignty and use of airspace
(a) Sovereignty and Public Right of Transit.—
(1) The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.
There are about a 250,000 civil pilots in the US who would oppose any change as well as the FAA, AOPA, ALPA and just about every organization representing civil flight in the US. And for good reason. If local authorities had any authority over aircraft transiting their jurisdiction, a flight from Los Angeles to New York would be subject to thousands of carious sets of rules.
So, this is the nightmare that we want to avoid in the world of drone flight. But because easy-to-fly, off-the-shelf drones are proliferating the market, at some point licensing starts to look good to the legislators.
It’s better for the hobbyist community to start the discussion about common sense rules for licensing than to wait for your Congressman to direct the FAA to take drastic action.