Drones in the News

By Robert Mark on December 4th, 2014

Drones in the News

When I was a kid my mom told me she could always tell when I was hiding something … “It shows all over your face,” she’d say.

baby drone

No one, not even me, believes drones this size are a threat.

So what does this have to do with the recent uptick in news coverage of drones, UAS, UAVs, RPVs and the rest? I sat in on a CNBC session last week with a professor from Duke University who I thought had been drinking a bit too much of the drone Kool-Aid. I tried to hide my shock at some of her responses, especially since she herself is a pilot, but I don’t think I did a very good job.

While I was trying to explain my support for these critters – ah, the drones, not Duke University professors – she took off for left field explaining that a drone and an Airbus are the same thing. And in a way, they are both fly-by-wire … “except that an Airbus has two pilots on board to look out the windows for drones.”

My biggest concern is that the sense and avoid technology to keep drones and airplanes from mixing it up in civil airspace is years away from a practical rollout. Without it, we have only an upcoming rule to try and convince non-aviation people that drones larger than 10 pounds do represent a potential threat. A Canada goose that everyone acknowledges is a threat should it come through the engine or cockpit weighs between 10-15 pounds.

I don’t want to see the FAA create another useless rule that restricts commerce.

But I also don’t want the agency to rush through a rule because they’re under pressure to let drones fly free when no one has a way to separate them from airplanes with people inside. My guess though, is that when airline passengers realize the threat SOME drones represent, they’re going to start yelling for their Congressmen. Imagine though … what if we found the right balance BEFORE the rule is released?


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