Sunday, March 18, 2012

Advocates Push For Small UAV Approval

Amazon GPS drone delivery

Late last week, a Congressional committee heard arguments for allowing small drones under 5 pounds to be used commercially. A representative from the Small UAV Coalition and the head of the FAA Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Integration Office spoke with lawmakers about the issue of drones and their commercial use.

This topic has been under debate for about a year. Advocates argue that the use of small drones will not only help keep America competitive with other nations but also help boost industry if we take the lead in drone production and use. The FAA, however, is fighting for control of the UAV market and the lower airspace that these drones operate in.

Last year, Congress set a September deadline for the FAA to introduce and enact laws and regulations for the commercial flying and use of small drones, but the FAA is widely expected to miss that deadline. To make things worse, last week the head of the FAA UAV Integration Office, James Williams said that not only would they miss the deadline, but he didn’t know when they would have the policies completed.

“Our goal is to get it out as quickly as possible, as long as we get it right,” Williams told Space Daily, adding that the FAA is collaborating with partners in the Obama administration on the issue.

Colin Guinn, a representative from the Small UAV Coalition attended the meeting with a little drone of his own to demonstrate in the committee center, argued that the use of small UAVs will not only provide various commercial and economical benefits but also will help provide data for the FAA to better make rules and regulations involving larger UAVs. The allowance of such crafts could also help industry professional perfect the technology in a safer way.

Currently the FAA forbids the non-commercial use of UAVs without express authorization, although exceptions have been granted to several companies in the last few months. Personally, I expect that the use of small drones like these is pretty much inevitable. The only question is, how long will it take the FAA and Congress to accept the fact and start making room for this new technology?

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