Sign The Petition Asking Obama To Compel The FAA To Adopt UK Like Commercial sUAS Standards

July 6th, 2014

sUASPetitionI’ve had several readers over the weekend ask me to promote this recently created petition on the White House website to:  Compel the FAA to adopt the UK’s commercial sUAS standards immediately.

I’ve signed this petition and fully support the concept. My only concern about the petition is that there would be more signatures faster if it were clearer exactly what UK commercial sUAS standards were. I’ve been doing some research to find out what the major UK standards are. This is the best definition that I’ve found.

PFRE reader, Chuck Spaulding pointed out to me that the main issue behind this petition is that the FAA’s current rulemaking committee is mostly aerospace companies and effectively no one with RCMA involvement or interest so guess who’s interests are going to be represented in the rulemaking process? Apparently the certification training in the UK is done by their model association and supervised by the UK equivalent of the FAA.

I think this petition is a good start to get some high level visibility that the FAA is not focused on rules for the small RCMA that we talk about here and there’s no rocket science in the rules the UK has had these rules in place for a couple of years and it’s a good starting point that can be used immediately!  For this reason I highly recommend signing this petition!

There is some irony in the fact that this petition is dated on the anniversary of the US independence from Britain. It’s time to admit that the British get a lot of things right… a sUAS process is just one of them!

Update 7/10: Also another way to give feedback to the FAA is at at their feedback page on Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. See the article at Forbes about this page. I just struggled for 20 minutes trying to give feedback on the FAA feedback page and finally discovered that if you use the Chrome browser the comment page won’t work… keeps saying the comment field is empty. As soon as I switched to Safari the comment page worked. Do you think this could have an effect on the low comment rate. I do, chrome is the most popular browser – many people are probably giving up and leaving. And these are the people that are regulating our air space and new technology?

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8 Responses to “Sign The Petition Asking Obama To Compel The FAA To Adopt UK Like Commercial sUAS Standards”

  • Larry,
    The only problem I see with the British standards is the last guideline. It says, “Stay away from built-up areas.” This would present a problem for using UAV’s to shoot real estate videos/photos since most homes are in “built-up areas”. Plus, further down the page, it says that once you hold your BNUC-S qualification you must apply for permission from the CAA in accordance with ANO 2009 Article 166. I would hope this would be a one-time permission and you would not need to obtain permission every time you fly and shoot a video, otherwise this could become a real problem. The website doesn’t seem to mention whether this is a one-time or every time requirement.

  • If anybody thinks this government has all the answers, better THINK AGAIN! We do not need another bureaucratic boondoggle. This is entrepreneurship in the hands of responsible people in the land of the free.

  • I understand that you don’t think the current regulations concerning drones is really what this is about. Yet it is never said. When you bring a petition into this forum it might make more sense to all the readers if you use abbreviations you should in parentheses tell what it means. Not everyone will know what you are talking about. The only way I had an idea this was about photography and using UVA’S was by reading someone else’s reply. So again if your backing someone’s petition please make sure that all of us understand what your talking about by not using abbreviations or explaining what it means will be very helpful.

  • @Win Ever watched YouTube? That’s all I’d need as evidence to link anything (including the use of UAV’s) to reckless disregard instead of “responsible entrepreneurship”. On Facebook, there is currently a video-gone-viral of a dog running around with a live firecracker in it’s mouth for godsakes. And people are passing it around like it was chocolate. And yeah, my initial reaction was “yeah, that’s funny!”, until I thought about the possibility of the dog’s teeth getting blown out, or the firework shooting an eye out of one of the scrambling kids and adult’s present. Not as funny then…

    My neighborhood is filled with uncontrolled intersections, because either the city forgot to put them in, or because the people who live there didn’t want the hinderance… self-governance, I guess…., but do you think anybody actually yields? Nope… there are about 5 accidents a week on my street alone, sometimes involving kids who aren’t strapped in. A city bus creamed a bicyclist a few years ago… still no signs, probably because the cyclist didn’t die, he was only hospitalized for six months.

    The saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. We probably wouldn’t need gov’t at all if our people had even a modicum of common sense.

    But yeah, I kinda think the British version is crafted for the countryside.

  • The British version only provides a partial free reign to hobbyists (but not at all to commercial usage), and even the hobbyists have to follow the 50meter rule from “any” people or property,

    50 meters is half a block. (roughly) 164feet

    Most homes in my city have a 20ft setback, which means, under the British guidelines you’d have to secure the area, including the street in front of the house, and probably have security staff to fully comply, because anyone walking by, or on a bike, or in car passing by violates that distance requirement. Double that if the house sits on a corner.

    It wouldn’t even be possible to apply that rule to a downtown or commercial area, without turning it into a movie set.

    It’s be just like shopping at Home Depot when they get the electric forklift out. 🙂

  • @Larry, it depends on the all up weight of your MR, if its under 7Kg in non congested areas then you don’t, if its more than 7Kg but less than 20kg then you do. In congested areas in the US full sized aircraft must stay above 1500ft AGL, over non congested area they can fly at 500ft, congested area are highlighted on navigational sectionals in yellow. My home town has 100,000 people in it yet it is not considered congested. There are plenty of people doing AP for real estate in the UK, but if you were planning on shooting high rise apartments in downtown London or Los Angeles you would need to get permission. Also, if you live in one of those congested areas the more often you call in for permission hopefully the less time and easier it will become.

    @Timothy, the government certainly likes its acronyms but the subject of this petition has been discussed on this blog many times and I doubt Larry would post anything that wasn’t potentially important to photographers.

    @Win, I think you kind of miss the point of the petition. Few people disagree with your sentiment that this is another government boondoggle, this petition is really about protecting the rights of the entrepreneurs. There have been several requests for comments regarding the “interpretation” of congresses mandate to regulate UAV’s [larger autonomous flying drones] and through the FAA’s proposed “interpretation” commercial sUAS [small, under 55lbs] operations is not an option, you can only fly RC’s for the “passion of flight.” So this petition is an attempt to get some form of regulation in the interim so that it is legal for commercial sUAS [small unmanned aerial systems] operation until the FAA goes through the official NPRM [notice of proposed rule making] process.

    Keep in mind that this process has been on going for almost ten years, the “guidelines” written in 2007 created this kind of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The FAA has stated that since losing the recent lawsuit that the rules default back to previous “guidelines,” firstly, that’s not true, the ruling by the federal judge was very clear on FAA’s jurisdiction regarding commercial RC operation and that the guidelines did not constitute law, however this is all somewhat unprecedented. I think its fair to say that if the FAA can successfully redefine the “interpretation” of the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that they will proceed with regulating UAV’s and there will be no pressure to regulate sUAV’s and it will take them another decade to get around to that. The difference is that in the meantime it won’t be “don’t ask don’t tell” commercial operation of sUAV’s will be illegal.

  • @chuck. You’re always close on the altitudes. Here are the actual minimum altitudes. http://www.flightsimaviation.com/data/FARS/part_91-119.html

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