June has been a busy month for the Federal Aviation Administration. On top of the sheer volume of legalese, the many contradictions found within all the recently published documents makes following the FAA a full time job. Here is a quick rundown of this month’s important drone-related announcements from the hill:
- Monday, 6/2: Seven aerial photography companies submit a petition to the FAA asking for an exemption from the agency’s current “flying drones for commercial use is prohibited” stance citing Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
- Tuesday, 6/10: The FAA allows for the first official commercial UAS flight over American soil. The lucky recipient of this ‘ground-breaking‘ exemption is none other than America’s sweetheart, British Petroleum.
- Friday, 6/13: The FAA sends a memo to the UAS Integration Office explaining that the use of drones in research conducted by state universities is prohibited, unless the university has a COA and the research is state-funded.
- Thursday, 6/19: Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) calls for an amendment to an appropriations bill that would effectively stop the FAA from publishing regulations for commercial UAS until privacy measures are put in place. The who, the how, and the when of these ‘privacy measures’ were curiously missing from Senator Markey’s proposal.
- Friday, 6/20: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation becomes the fourth FAA approved test site to begin UAS operations.
- Monday, 6/23: The FAA publishes its Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft which outlines –complete with absurd examples– what is and isn’t allowed when flying a drone. As a result, the FAA alienates its strongest supporter, implies that Amazon’s intention to deliver packages via UAS is illegal, and brings more attention to the fact that there is no legal precedent for its actions. The document also says that the rules it outlines are both effective immediately and not effective until after a period of public input…try to figure that one out.
- Tuesday, 6/24: Yavapai College in Arizona (a public institution) is granted a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA.
- Wednesday 6/25: The FAA puts out a press release asking the public to weigh in on the petition submitted by the aerial photography groups.
- Thursday 6/26: The Office of the Inspector General publishes an audit report on the FAA that suggests there is uncertainty as to “when and if full integration of UAS into the National Airspace will occur.”
Confused? You’re not the only one.
Allow me to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket >>> Read FAA Favors Frat Bros Over Farmers
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com