Drone Rules Still Uncertain as Sector Approaches Cruising Altitude

Carl Weinschenk

Organizations must prepare for the drone age. It is clear that these devices will play a role in how business is done.

It still seems unclear, however, exactly how drones will be administered. That’s too bad: Drones pose obvious risks. Just within the past week, there were potentially dangerous incidents in Memphis and Delhi, India. Beyond safety, commercial drones clearly point to significant operational and management changes. Most obviously, customer fulfillment will look a lot different once drones are fully integrated.

The drone industry seems to be in a state of flux. According to Forbes’ contributor Kate Harrison, the confusion stems from Taylor v. FAA, a court challenge to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control over small drones and similar aircraft. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the FAA had no registration control over hobbyist drones.

Harrison’s piece is based on a conversation with Jonathan Rupprecht, the attorney for John Taylor, who brought the suit. He says that the process of determining the limits of FAA power going forward will be slow, future rulemaking will be delayed, and that the ensuing confusion will be wasteful. The bottom line is that a general sense of confusion surrounds drones.


The FAA, according to legal blog JD Supra, retains control among non-hobbyists. It is charged with controlling usage and safety regulations. The post outlines six areas of concern at the federal level: a prohibition on nighttime flying and operation at more than 100 miles per hour, pilot testing requirements and remote pilot certification, the need to register devices with the FAA and airspace restriction.

State laws, the post says, are more geared to protecting personal privacy rights against drones. These devices have the capability of spying or eavesdropping.

It is possible to differentiate between hobbyist and commercial drone use. More broadly, however, confusion at the hobbyist level seems likely to impact the commercial side. Remember that we live in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, in which there is little differentiation between consumer and professional equipment.

Administrative bodies should work as fast as possible. Drone delivery has come – at least to Reykjavik, Iceland. ZDNet reports that the AHA marketplace is delivering packages of food and consumer goods to a drop-off point on the other side of the city. This service, which is being run by Flytrex, at this point is not allowed by the Icelandic Transport Authority to drop packages at homes.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 


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