FAA , Overregulation And Drone Innovation
” Soon, the skies over Disney World will be aglow with spectacular displays of LED lights brought to consumers through new drone technology.
Flixels, one of Disney’s newest innovations, allows a computer to simultaneously operate and coordinate multiple drones equipped with LED lights to imitate fireworks and other light displays. This system will eventually allow Disney to reduce costs and improve safety while dazzling spectators’ imaginations.
Too bad Disney’s new system is forbidden by federal regulations.
Innovation Outpacing Regulation
Under Part 107 of the current Federal Aviation Administration regulations, which govern commercial drone operations, an individual (or computer system) may not operate more than one drone at a time.
The rules also prohibit flying a drone over “anyone who is not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle.” Further, the rules forbid operators from flying drones at night.
With these three rules, Disney’s plan goes up in smoke.
So how is Disney moving ahead with its drone shows? Simple enough: It received special treatment from the FAA in the form of a waiver exempting it from the regulations previously listed.
That’s right. Disney—and only Disney—is allowed to use drones for aerial shows. That begs the question: What about the other small startup companies who lack the time, resources, and political connections to get that same waiver? How will they ever bring their own drone innovations to market?
The Part 107 commercial drone regulations, implemented in August 2016, affect everyone from the individual drone enthusiast who wants to get into the drone photography business, to large companies such as Amazon, Google, and Disney, who envision operating fleets of these tiny craft.
The FAA has also targeted hobby fliers in its push for regulatory dominance of this nascent field. Under a rule rushed into place last December, the agency established a federal registry of drone owners and established penalties of up to three years in prison and $277,500 in fines for those who failed to comply.
A Solution in Search of a Problem
These draconian penalties, fines, and regulations are the epitome of overcriminalization. What’s more, they are redundant, since we already have both criminal statutes and civil penalties that protect the public from hazards like drone misuse.
For example, what makes a small drone crashing through a house window any different from the damage caused by another object like a baseball? In both instances, the homeowner can turn to civil law for compensation, and prosecutors can file assault charges if they can prove the party’s actions were reckless or otherwise intended to harm or threaten harm.
Consequently, additional drone regulation is generally superfluous and only serves to needlessly expand the role of government bureaucrats.”