November 10th, 2013
Apparently the short answer is for another two years. Last Thursday the FAA released a Road Map document that generally lays out a general plan for Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System (it’s two years late on this milestone). To me, the language of the Road Map is disappointingly fuzzy and general. There has been a bunch of articles in the media in the last few days about this Road Map. Most try to talk about all UAVs at the same time. Small UAVs are very different than large ones. The article I like the best is the post by Adi Robertson at theverge.com.
Here is a short summary of the major things the road map establishes relating to the real estate photography/videography industry:
- A certification process for existing UAV aircraft under 55 lbs by then end of 2014.
- Certification guidelines for small UAV pilots by the end of 2014.
- Rules for small UAVs (55 lbs and under) codified buy the end of 2015.
- FAA rules are not going to address privacy issues.
Adi’s post points out three incidents in the last year involving safety issues caused by small UAVs in populated areas. These kind of incidents will raise the public awareness to small UAV use and make this whole process much more difficult as time goes on with out well defined rules and processes.
I think the FAA is making a big mistake by taking so long to get a certification process, pilot certification and rules in place. They should put those all in place now and refine them as necessary. They are making this too difficult!