The commercial drone industry wants safer skies for unmanned aerial vehicles and they’re taking their case to Capitol Hill.
The Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent 501c6 non-profit led by key figures of the commercial drone industry, called on Congress in a recent statement to repeal Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA) of 2012.
The section has been interpreted to repeal mandatory drone registration for recreational or hobbyist purposes. However, the Alliance points out that — due to cases of irresponsible drone incidents by unregulated pilots — the FAA needs to establish “rules of the road” for all UAV users.
“We understand why model aircraft proponents want to remain exempt, as they have been flying safely for decades. However, times have changed, and hobbyists are no longer flying alone,” said Lisa Ellman, Co-executive Director, Commercial Drone Alliance.
The Alliance is asking Congress to include new language in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act to enable the FAA to better regulate both drone flight and the National Airspace “in a common sense way.”
Commercial Drone Alliance officials point out that, by the end of 2017, more than 873,000 hobbyist owners had registered with the FAA for an estimated 1.1 million UAVs.
“The sheer number of hobbyist aircraft taking to the sky now makes exempting model aircraft from regulation nonsensical,” a Commercial Drone Alliance statement notes.
However, the Academy of Model Aeronautics takes issue with the CMA’s position. In a response today, the AMA issues the following statement, in part:
“Even with AMA managing a portion of the recreational community and funding broader educational efforts, the FAA is still under-resourced to handle the growing surge in commercial drones, Part 107 waiver requests and future rulemakings. Eliminating Section 336 will exacerbate the demand on the agency’s resources, which may have implications for the commercial drone industry and the safety of our skies. Public-private partnerships with experienced community-based organizations like AMA, which are facilitated by Section 336, can be helpful in alleviating strain on the FAA and enhance safety.”
An extension to the reauthorization act had been scheduled to expire; however, Congress included a new extension in the latest spending bill, pushing the deadline to September.