If, like me, you fly a drone commercially, you will have noticed recently, legislation proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein. This legislation is aimed at taking away Federal preemption over the regulation of our national airspace (“NAS”). The “Drone Federalism Act of 2017” seeks to remove the Federal Aviation Administration's (“FAA”) current power to regulate objects flying in our NAS and allow local governments to stitch together a patchwork of laws and regulations.
Let's think about that for a minute. We live in a country where there have been no major accidents related to drones in recent years. Bills such as this essentially aim to kneecap a newly growing industry in our country. If local authorities are able to regulate the use of civil unmanned aircraft in the first 200’ above ground level or within 200’ of private property, a pilot would conceivably have to ask every single property owner within 200’ whether or not they are allowed to operate their aircraft. All of a sudden the prospects for this growing commercial industry would begin to dry up very quickly.
Instead of wasting new federal time and money, why not empower the FAA with resources to enforce the current structure in place. 14 CFR 107 requires commercial unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) pilots to register their aircraft and pass a knowledge test about our federal aviation system. If the FAA could bring justice against those pilots violating the current rules, we would not need outrageous legislation like the Drone Federalism Act.
Commercial drone pilots could not care less about filming anything but the subject matter they have been hired to document. So when you walk outside and see a drone, they are most likely not trying to spy on you. Just because there is a camera on a drone does not mean it wants to film you. So, instead of letting legislation possibly kill a homegrown growth industry, call your senator and oppose this bill and support safer infrastructure inspections, fasters insights into construction progress, and a novel approach to real estate marketing.