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Congress says the FAA’s “risk-averse culture” is preventing innovation in regard to drones
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be looking to relax its overly conservative safety rules surrounding commercial drone usage, after a statement was released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. A recent look into the FAA’s policies has found that it has restricted further innovation in the commercial unmanned aircraft space.
When it comes to managing 737’s and other commercial passenger aircraft it makes sense to take an extra cautious and conservative approach because plane crashes are rarely minor incidents. However, by regulating small unmanned drones with the same rules and policies as massive jet liners the FAA is failing to recognize the possibilities that drones bring to the table.
A report mandated by Congress asserts that the FAA’s approach to approving regulations tends to be too conservative, preventing possible innovative drone applications such as inspecting cellphone towers and assisting rescue workers. Rather than maintain their “one size fits all” philosophy, critics ask that the FAA recognize that drones have great potential when it comes to improving public safety.
The National Academies offered several recommendations to the FAA:
- Within six months, undertake a top-to-bottom change management process aimed at moving smartly to a risk-based decision-making organization with clearly defined lines of authority, responsibility and accountability.
- Within one year, establish and publish specific guidelines for implementing a risk-based process for certifying UAS and aircraft and granting operations approval.
- Identify classes of operations where the level of additional risk is expected to be so low that it is appropriate to base approval of those operations on requiring insurance in lieu of having a separate risk analysis.
The Department of Transportation is currently developing a program aimed at promoting the safe commercial operation and integration of drones in agriculture, commerce, emergency management, human transportation and other sectors with hopes that it can set the precedent for new regulation framework.
In a statement issued in response to the report, the FAA acknowledged the DoT program is among its efforts to “safely accelerate UAS on multiple fronts.”
Hopefully this means that Drones will become a more intricate part of everyday life; however we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up for an Amazon drone delivery program just yet…
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