Four industry leading drone manufacturers have formed an alliance in an effort to advocate more effectively for a regulatory framework that will support the drone industry.
3DR, DJI, GoPro and Parrot announced yesterday that they are forming the Drone Manufacturers Alliance. In a statement introducing the new group, Kara Calvert, the Director of the Drone Manufacturers Alliance, described the Alliance as “a coalition that will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications. We will advocate for policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.”
Citing the significant economic and social benefits that the drone industry has to offer, the announcement says that industry and lawmakers must work together on a regulatory framework to ensure a safe environment and continued innovation; the Alliance intends to focus on “highlighting innovation and emphasizing education” to work with lawmakers and federal agencies on crafting thoughtful policies.
Kara Calvert told DRONELIFE that the new Alliance will work towards a risk-based system of integration:
The Drone Manufacturers Alliance will advocate for a risk-based regulatory framework that will enable commercial and recreational users of low-risk drones to fly safely and with confidence. It is critical that policy makers avoid overly restrictive and burdensome requirements that could ultimately harm our efforts to constantly innovate to improve aviation safety, education and technological capabilities.
The announcement follows news of a document leaked to the AP this weekend indicating that the latest FAA Task Force, the Micro ARC, had moved to recommend some risk-based framework for flight over people but had met stiff opposition from the powerful Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) and others, who still argue for a stiff testing and background check procedure for most commercial applications.
While the FAA has been under pressure from Congress to complete drone integration and to support commercial interests by making flight beyond visual line of sight and over people a priority, recent arguments in the Senate over drone privacy, drone delivery, and micro drones indicate clearly that more education about the myths and reality of commercial drones is needed if integration is to be completed quickly. The FAA is expected to announce the Small UAV Rules late this spring, after missing the September 30 deadline imposed by Congress.
Members of the drone industry have been visible figures in discussions about drone integration in Washington; all four manufacturers in the Alliance were members of the FAA’s drone registration task force. But forming a coalition may help to give the group a larger voice, and that could be good news for many areas of the drone industry. Adam Lisberg, North American Communications Director at DJI, tells DRONELIFE: “DJI is happy to join with other manufacturers to form a group that will advocate for our common interests, as well as the interests of the people, companies, nonprofits and government agencies that purchase, use and enjoy our products,” including all of the stakeholders in his comments.