Print 39 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Mar 11 at 6:47 AM

The FAA is currently working on regulations that would allow drone deliveries without putting the public or manned aircraft in danger

Amazon may be able to get its drones up in the air after all, as a recent court case found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lacks the authority to ban the commercial use of drones in the continental U.S.
According to Market Watch, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administration law judge found that the FAA shouldn’t have fined a man $10,000 because his drone was no different than a model aircraft. 
Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer, flew a small drone near the University of Virginia while making a commercial video in October 2011. The FAA fined Pirker $10,000 in an attempt to regulate commercial uses of small drones in U.S. airspace.
Pirker then appealed the fine, and the court found that the FAA doesn’t have any regulations that govern model aircraft flights or those that classify model aircraft as an "unmanned aircraft." In other words, the line between drone and toy hasn't been drawn. 
The FAA successfully banned the commercial use of unmanned aircraft over the U.S. airspace (until it develops rules for their part in the national airspace, at least), but there are no clear-cut rules for commercial drone use. In fact, the FAA is considering dealing with the drones on a case-by-case basis. In this case, it wasn't clear if it was an unmanned drone or toy plane.

The FAA believes that it should be able to ban drone flights because it has the power to regulate access to the national airspace.

The FAA isn't completely against commercial drones. In fact, it's currently working on regulations that would allow drone deliveries, thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2012 that told the FAA to have the rules ready by September 2015. But since those regulations are not yet complete, the subject is a huge grey area for now. 

In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he wanted to use unmanned "Prime Air" drones for small package delivery. Bezos said the company is currently testing unmanned, octocopter drones called "Prime Air" that have the ability to deliver small packages to customers in just 30 minutes.

Source: Market Watch

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RE: Go ahead FAA...
By sorry dog on 3/7/2014 2:12:04 PM , Rating: 3
Gotta say I'm torn on this issue.

I agree the FAA in general needs to take a hike, because as arbitrary and vindictive bureaucracies go... they are up there with the IRS.

Yet, the commercial drone issue has the potential to go off the rails into lots of legal and practical problems such as privacy, owner and operator liability, and even safety with respect to manned aircraft. Currently a turbine must able to withstand a 4 pound bird... do we need to up this to 5 pound amazon prime package?

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Belegost on 3/7/2014 2:40:01 PM , Rating: 4
Really I see this the same way as the early days of manned aviation. Go back to the early 20th century and anyone who could slap together a motorcycle engine with a propeller and some wings could just launch wherever. Young people traveling around the countryside barnstorming for money was a lot of fun.

That was fine when this was a relatively small group of people, similar to current model planes.

However as the technology moved forward and attracted increasing numbers problems began to bubble up. Accidents that hurt innocent people, the question of safety for commercial passenger carriage, problems with controlling traffic around busy airfields - these led to the necessity of a body to regulate aircraft.

Similarly as these small unmanned aircraft begin to rise in popularity, new problems are going to come with them - interference with manned aircraft, privacy and safety of people on the ground, security of private property from unwarranted surveillance - commercial or government.

And very much like the early barnstormers there is a strong resistance from the people who have been doing this for years and feel nothing should change.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Mint on 3/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: Go ahead FAA...
By w8gaming on 3/7/2014 6:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder will you be still thinking this way when a drone crashed into your window destroying furniture and such due to technical glitches. That's putting the potential consequences mildly. Think about what would happen if the road is not regulated and everyone needs to get a licence to drive. When drones flying reaching the same volume as the early land vehicles, it will be obvious that you cannot simply let everyone dictate how and where they want to fly without forcing them to follow rules.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2014 8:20:46 AM , Rating: 2
Wait let me get this straight, you are conceiving a reality in which the sky will be full of "drones" piloted by Joe Shmoe everyman?

That sounds retarded.

I wonder will you be still thinking this way when a drone crashed into your window destroying furniture and such due to technical glitches.

I'll be thinking new furniture! And a nice civil lawsuit maybe on top of that.

All without the Fed's getting involved. Shocking, I know, but we already have ways to deal with this today.

it will be obvious that you cannot simply let everyone dictate how and where they want to fly without forcing them to follow rules.

Amazing. Somehow Americans have been using RC planes since the 1930's without any disasters or them triggering the apocalypse. But now, today, we need more federal oversight on the RC menace!

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By freaqie on 3/9/2014 12:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
I understand your sentiment but how do you propose to find the owner and controller of this drone?

some legislation like:
drones cannot fly within say 2kms of an airport landing strip
drones may not fly higher then 50m above the ground surface.
the owner and contact info of the drone should always be printed on the side of the drone

would help get some of this stuff regulated a little bit,
we don;t ned the FAA to jump in but some rules and logic might be benefificial

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Mint on 3/11/2014 6:34:39 AM , Rating: 2
Amazing. Somehow Americans have been using RC planes since the 1930's without any disasters or them triggering the apocalypse. But now, today, we need more federal oversight on the RC menace!

Are you so dense that you cannot see the difference between the 1930's and today?

These things are orders of magnitude cheaper, will soon be operable by just about everyone with minimal training, can communicate wirelessly, be equipped with 40MP cameras, etc. Hell, they can even be rigged with weapons.

How do you suggest we prosecute somebody breaking laws with them? Everything from public nuisance to invasion of privacy to assault or even murder is possible with complete anonymity.

Welcome to the robot age.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By BifurcatedBoat on 3/7/2014 8:54:17 PM , Rating: 1
My attitude on these issues really is personal responsibility and common sense.

For example, in regards to noise as a nuisance, rather than putting laws in place to cover every single device that makes noise and banning half of them because they might be too loud, there are blanket laws that cover noise generation in general. So if somebody wants to have an air compressor for example in their garage in a residential neighborhood, they can as long as they install soundproofing to make it quiet enough.

Likewise, rather than banning "drones" because of other problems that they might create in some scenarios - which at this point are still projections rather than a proven reality - how about just making sure that legislation exists to handle the nuisance side of things, and see if a market for useful drones can adapt around it?

Leave it up to local governments to weigh the pros and cons of allowing drone use in public areas. Let existing regulations on noise and safety cover other potential problems, and make sure that people who do cause damage are held liable so they don't want to do something risky with them.

Maybe we will find that as a whole, we really do not want drones coming around bothering us, and the benefits of say, 30 minute Amazon delivery aren't worth the nuisance under any circumstances. That's fine. But on the other hand, it's possible that we might find drones really useful and rather than blanket banning of them, there is a good compromise that can be found that offers a combination of pros and cons that we're in favor of.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/2014 3:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
Currently a turbine must able to withstand a 4 pound bird... do we need to up this to 5 pound amazon prime package?

These Amazon drones, if they'll be used at all, will be in very dense metropolitan areas. They'll be flying extremely low, relative to air traffic, and it's obviously NOT going to be crossing airport runways or going anywhere near an airport.

So what the hell? In what possible reality do you see these drones meeting up with an aircraft turbine?

All this obsession with safety to the point that common sense is thrown out the window!

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By JediJeb on 3/7/2014 4:12:48 PM , Rating: 5
I agree. The only regulation these need is a max ceiling for drones versus a min ceiling for manned aircraft with a buffer zone between the two.

Concerning property damage liability and such, make it a civil matter just like it is for automobiles. You break it you pay for it, whichever side is at fault. If some kid smashes a RC plane into your patio door, he(or his parents) are liable for the damage. Same with drones.

Wow, how simple, we just solved the whole problem with about two pages in the CFR.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By inperfectdarkness on 3/10/2014 3:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
It already exists. It's called a coordinating altitude, and it's regularly used to separate rotory-wing from fixed-wing aircraft.

I STILL say this is skeet-shooting with prizes.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Mint on 3/11/2014 6:47:19 AM , Rating: 2
Concerning property damage liability and such, make it a civil matter just like it is for automobiles.

Automobiles are heavily regulated, genius. You didn't solve jack, and in fact you are implicitly advocating a bunch of legislation to be passed regarding drones.

You're also completely overlooking the fact that we have license plates and VINs to assign liability to an individual. We have registries tracking ownership, and somebody has to be present in a car when it causes damage.

Drones are an entirely different matter.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By kickoff on 3/7/2014 4:19:43 PM , Rating: 1
I'm usually arguing with reclaimer if I comment at all, but I'm starting to get sick of the nanny state stuff myself.

The only drones around here now are the nanny-state lovers who want their ass wiped for them so they don't have to do it themselves. I'm getting sick of this.

These things will be flying much too low to interfere with FAA bullshit.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Samus on 3/8/2014 1:12:43 AM , Rating: 2
I still find it amazing that terrorism can only be linked to 5,000 American deaths over the last two decades (including military personal) and we've lost all this freedom from the TSA to the NSA, yet nobody is doing anything to push background checks, mental health requirements or firearm safety workshops when guns have been linked to over 1,000,000 American deaths in the same period.

Nanny state indeed.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By JediJeb on 3/10/2014 3:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
Well background checks are required to purchase firearms, the federal government just hasn't done their job to produce an easily searchable database that they were supposed to do a long time ago. You are also not allowed to own a firearm if you have mental health problems, but again the federal government hasn't done its job because a few people whine and complain that keeping a publicly searchable record of those with such conditions is an invasion of their privacy. Firearm safety classes are available from many sources including many NRA sponsored free classes, people are just to lazy to look for them or just won't because they think they know more than they do about guns. Most good gun shops will even tell you about the classes when you make a purchase.

The general public believe you just walk into a store, pay money and walk out with a gun, but most responsible gun owners know it isn't like that. The media really likes to push the above belief to sensationalize any gun related story. Even the gun shows I have been to have required the checks before selling a gun, at least by any legitimate dealer. Now there are always the few out in the parking lot trying to sell things out of their trunk, but there are also ATF agents around looking for those guys too. The requirement for checks is not going to stop those backroom deals any more than the requirement that you have a prescription for Oxycontin will stop people from buying it on the street somewhere without one. If the news outlets were truly unbiased then they would be running stories on all the horrible people who go to the pharmacy ever day to purchase legal pharmaceuticals just like those legal, responsible gun owners that go to a gun shop to purchase a legal firearm.

As for the TSA, that is an agency that should have never been established, and the NSA should have some severe oversight placed on them by civilian observers.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Wondering Fool on 3/9/2014 7:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
I may be wrong but it appears to me that they are merely trying to put some laws in place. No, the drones won't be interfering with commercial flights but that doesn't mean that they won't create problems in air space. Let's just say that the news company's decide to use drones instead of their ridiculously overpriced helicopter and then their drone interferes with the hospitals medical chopper and results in a death. There will need to be laws in place before something like that happens. Then there are always people who want to push the envelope. I immediately think of dirt bikes and motorcycles. Dirt bikes are not road legal and you don't even need a drivers license in most places but that doesn't stop kids from driving them on the roads and causing accidents. What will the capabilities be limited to for these things? How high/fast will they actually be allowed to go?

I certainly don't want to see air traffic controllers for these things. I also don't want to see more of my freedoms taken away in the name of safety but having some ground rules in writing is a good thing.

RE: Go ahead FAA...
By Imaginer on 3/8/2014 9:28:21 AM , Rating: 2
The thing is, the 4 pound bird is not metal.

I am sure many would know the damages that CAN happen with a single screw lodged in a turbine. Those drones, are more than one screw, and they are or can be with metal.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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