FAA Misses Drone Regulation Deadline

The FAA has missed the September 30 deadline to institute nationwide drone regulations.  “Our main, overriding goal is safety,” said an FAA spokesperson, setting expectations that regulations will not be finalized until “late next spring,” as the agency reviews more than 4,500 comments on the proposed rules.

Congress asked the FAA to find a reasonable way to allow drones into US airspace in 2012, but the FAA is still working on a system of complex individual exemptions.  (Section 333 Exemptions.)  According to the FAA, 1,800 of these exemptions have been granted so far.

On the September 30 missed deadline, a group of 29 drone industry leaders including representatives of research institutions, investment firms, and technology companies delivered a letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta in protest.  The letter urges the FAA to finalize drone rules, citing the significant benefits that drone technology offers to a variety of commercial industries, research and humanitarian rescue efforts.  Additionally, the group estimates an economic impact of greater than 100,000 jobs and over $82billion dollars in the first decade of widespread use of commercial drones, and cautions against being last to market.  “With each passing day that commercial integration is delayed, the US continues to fall behind,” the letter states.

The group also addresses safety issues, long the excuse for delayed regulations.  The letter points out that allowing more commercial operators instead of hobbyists will make the environment safer for everyone, stating: “Having more trained commercial operators will create a culture of safety that helps deter careless and reckless behavior.”