A group of drone industry stakeholders sent a letter to the Senate yesterday, protesting Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed drone amendment to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Act.
At issue are Feinstein’s proposed amendments #3558 and #3650 to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization package. The amendments would change or strike a provision in the Reauthorization bill that establishes federal authority to enact drone regulations, prohibiting states for passing their own drone laws that might come into conflict with FAA rules.
The FAA and the industry claim that allowing states to pass their own laws would create a “patchwork quilt” of regulations, seriously hindering commercial drone development as businesses must ensure that they comply with 50 potentially differing sets of regulations. But Feinstein claims that her proposal protects California’s rights, saying that drone dangers differ from state to state.
“Reckless drone use varies significantly in different states and even within a state, which is why we need to maintain the ability for states to set their own standards of drone operation,” says Senator Feinstein’s statement. “One in five incidents of reckless drone use nationwide has occurred in California, and densely-populated areas with critical infrastructure like Los Angeles and San Francisco need flexibility to enact rules that address their unique challenges.”
Unsurprisingly, Feinstein’s amendments are supported by several groups representing state and local governments, but the drone industry has stepped forward en masse to make their voices heard also. The letter makes it clear that the industry views one clear set of federal regulations as a critical move to ensure the growth of the business and the safety of drone integration into the NAS.
“This section on federal preemption is essential so that UAS integration will be accomplished pursuant to uniform rules across the country,” says the letter. “Proposals by state and local governments in these areas have the potential to create a complicated patchwork of laws that may erode, rather than enhance, air safety…A consistent framework will bring clarity to the regulations governing commercial UAS operations and obviate the need for states and municipalities to enact their own laws, which have the strong potential to create confusion and compliance burdens.”
The letter was signed by the following drone industry stakeholders:
- AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International)
- AIA (Aerospace Industries Association)
- AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)
- Cherokee Nation Technologies
- Consumer Technology Association
- Drone Manufacturers Alliance
- General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
- National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
- Small UAV Coalition
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.