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FAA May Require Licenses to Fly Commercial Drones

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#2
I'll take the more controversial stance (controversial in a RC hobby forum)... I will say that regulation is required for commercial use. What that regulation entails is the sticky bit. I think what's detailed in that article about remaining in line-of-sight and requiring certified fields for testing is too specific and unreasonable. That said, I personally don't know what the correct regulations should look like.
 

Lorenzo

Senior Member
#3
I agree; in effect, requiring line-of-sight for a "drone" renders them essentially useless. However, the only way I can perceive a large, commercial drone industry in the future with any semblance of enthusiasm is if their are relevant and demanding requirements for the manufacturers and pilots (the thought of multi-rotors falling out of the sky every now and again doesn't sit well with me, call me crazy.). Perhaps a weight limit and/or emergency parachute system requirement would help to quell some of the concerns?
 

Lorenzo

Senior Member
#5
Yes, a license would certainly be a step in the right direction. The question is how to verify one's aptitude and safety as a drone pilot. I'm imagining 'Top Gun' for drone pilots...their call-signs will be their screen names - cue Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone.' Also - I didn't have to wait very long to be provided with an example of why licenses may be a good thing:
TGI Fridays drone delivers bloody 'mistletoe mischief'
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102250262#.
 
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makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#6
Yes, a license would certainly be a step in the right direction. The question is how to verify one's aptitude and safety as a drone pilot. I'm imagining 'Top Gun' for drone pilots...their call-signs will be their screen names - cue Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone.'
Maybe borrow from what seems to work for the FCC and amateur radio.

There are tests created by the FCC with input from amateur radio enthusiasts and organizations (ARRL, whose equivalent in the model aircraft in the US is the AMA) where the tests are administered by ARRL clubs and members with the certifications and resources to administer these tests. The test administrators do it on a volunteer basis, and the clubs charge a administration fee.

A technician test involves a series of multiple choice questions on technical, operational and regulatory questions. Maybe because there are more standards involved in RF stuff, but it also encompasses international operating standards. It could be that's what's needed in the RC hobby. More international standards. An ITU (http://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspx) of sorts for the RC world.
 

abieex

Member
Mentor
#8
The FAA written for private pilot is not all that difficult. If you choose to fly commercially you need to know the rules. Although a full blown written is probably not warranted the need for education certainly is. The biggest question is how in the world will any of this be enforced? This issue may be brewing for the next 10 years!
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#10
Crowd-sourced enforcement. At least, in the amateur radio world, that's what happens. Because the radio spectrum can be crowded, if someone's transmitting and stepping on someone else, and there's no identifying means to that transmission, amateurs will seek out that rogue source with radio finding equipment and techniques. Once the rogue transmitter is found, if they don't stop or correct their problem, or if they're unlicensed, the FCC will come in with fines.

Of course, it's not perfect, and may not work in the commercial UAV World to self-regulate with "teeth" from governments, but it's an option. Unfortunately, the FAA are more used to full control.
 

Tritium

Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
#12
Licensing per flight area, population density and weight of craft would make sense.

Licensing for use in uncontrolled airspace and or areas of VERY low population density (my area has less than 1 person per square mile) is totally ludicrous especially on private acreage of a square mile in size or larger. I will use any technology I can get my hands on that will allow me to enjoy a higher standard of life by relieving me from the necessity of hiring help or doing the work manually myself.

I am a rancher and fuel alcohol / biofuel producer!

I outlined the need for FCC Ham Radio type of testing in my comments to the FAA a few months ago.

Thurmond
 
#13
Seems I'm not the only one thinking of FAR 103. Pretty sure that all the planes we fly are under 254 lbs. But part of the issue is flying near airports and licensed aircraft, which ultralights must give right-of-way, same could and should be said of any UAS/"drone"/model

Update: Looks like I should have read it closer, at the beginning of the reg it states for Manned aircraft. I guess the next question is why should it be any different for unmanned under the weight limit? Granted that is all for recreational or personal use, commercial isn't covered at all
 
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Lorenzo

Senior Member
#14
Licensing per flight area, population density and weight of craft would make sense.
- Now this makes a lot of sense, probably too much sense for the FAA. As for applying the same requirements for a private/commercial pilots license for UAV flying, that'd be like requiring a drivers license for RC cars...not to say I think a license specific to UAVs is unnecessary.
 

FAI-F1D

Free Flight Indoorist
#16
I just don't see how commercial licensure will accomplish anything. Might make sense to impose regulations on high volume operators like Amazon, but that's the only place that it's even enforceable.

Licensure doesn't make someone operate their equipment in a safer manner. After all, requiring driver's licenses has been soooo successful in making the roadways safe! In the aviation world, I've seen commercial pilots do some really stupid things, and get away with it. And therein lies the rub. If the FAA can't even do a good job of enforcement against manned aircraft offenders, what on earth makes us think they could do anything worthwhile in the unmanned aircraft world?
 

Lorenzo

Senior Member
#18
I'm fairly certain that roadways are safer with required licenses than they would be without. Laws cannot and are not intended to prevent every single instance of infraction, but rather to hold people accountable when they are found to be guilty. The FAA is in a position that requires them to react to these new systems, there's no way around that. The question is and the focus should be, what and how will they do it in a way that produces reasonable safety measures without being too restrictive.
 

FAI-F1D

Free Flight Indoorist
#20
I'm fairly certain that roadways are safer with required licenses than they would be without. Laws cannot and are not intended to prevent every single instance of infraction, but rather to hold people accountable when they are found to be guilty. The FAA is in a position that requires them to react to these new systems, there's no way around that. The question is and the focus should be, what and how will they do it in a way that produces reasonable safety measures without being too restrictive.
I used to find that argument persuasive. One of the problems is that the FAA wants to push "drones" into the sub-400' altitude range. While I can see them having a contest to regulate flight into positive controlled airspace (A-D, and E in restricted visibility), the current stance tramples on private property. I don't care what safety issues might be in play, the FAA has no right to regulate any aerial activity that takes place in my front yard. Even the proposals coming from some to deregulate flight "below treetop level" are insufficient. These regulations are in disparity to the FAA's stance on model rocketry, which remains pretty hands off (not to be confused with high power, which requires a waiver, and for good reason given that the weights often go far outside the "model aircraft" realm) despite tremendous altitude capability (2000' even for comparatively tiny "C" engines).

I'd advocate pushing the FAA to fix the regulations so that they aren't as draconian, but given that it's taking a congressional mandate just to get them to allow a driver's license to substitute for a 3rd class medical certificate, there is no reason whatsoever to expect that the FAA will ever do anything nice for aviation ever again. Or we could talk about the sleep apnea debacle, or a recent engine overhaul mandate attempt, or any number of stunts the FAA has pulled just in the past year that show they have no desire to make aviation safer, but much desire to make life difficult and pay off their commercial cronies.