The proposed Micro Drone amendment to the AIRR Act, which would exempt drones under 4.4 pounds including payload from some FAA requirements, has been heavily supported by the commercial drone industry. Now a search-and-rescue organization made up of volunteer drone pilots is asking the public to lobby their legislators to support to the proposed rule.
Air Bears is a global network of volunteer drone pilots who offer assistance to local emergency agencies for search and rescue operations, another of a growing army of humanitarian drone organizations. When called upon, the organization contacts Air Bear volunteers closest to the scene, who then coordinate with local authorities to get a drone into the air as soon as possible, providing emergency personnel with a real time aerial view. Since inception less than 16 months ago, volunteers have assisted in the rescue of four missing persons, demonstrating the potential for volunteers to successfully integrate with official personnel, lending equipment and expertise.
While the Air Bear services are free, the FAA currently requires that volunteer search and rescue drone operators obtain specific authorization before being allowed to help, which prevents many drone operators from volunteering. In a public statement, the organization asks the public to ask lawmakers to pass the Micro UAS Amendment, which would eliminate the need for most operators to obtain special permission before volunteering and could significantly expand the organization’s reach.
Executive Director Scott Zimmerman speaks passionately about the work that they do, telling DRONELIFE that the Micro UAS Amendment would make a significant difference to growing their membership:
“…Air Bears is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) charitable public service..the commercial provisions put forth by the micro UAS amendment to H.R. 4441 doesn’t affect our operations, but what it does affect is our potential member base. The strength of our organization is in its membership; the more people we have on our team, the better chance we have of making a difference, ” says Zimmerman. “The inclusion and passage of this legislation stands to alleviate much of the confusion and arbitrary rules and regulations put forth by the FAA… We strongly feel that this amendment represents the most comprehensive, common sense aproach to micro UAS integration to date. It would let us finally begin to focus on our overseas programs: Air Bears is world wide. Because the love of flight is universal, and so is the love of life.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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