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Jul 10, 2016

Why No Rules for Delivery By Drone?



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The FAA still has no rules that would allow drones to be used to make deliveries.  Some people argue that it’s a difficult problem because it would be hard for a drone to make a delivery to a high rise apartment in New York or Washington, DC.  For whatever reason, the FAA has failed to meet repeated Congressional guidelines for drone rules.

Not everyone lives in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles.  I used to live on a ranch 6 miles outside of St. Ignatius, Montana.  Our mailbox was a half mile from the house, out by the main gate.  A drone delivery would be a great thing to have in a situation like that.  Why can't the FAA declare some large, thinly populated areas in states like Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and similar states as drone delivery test areas, subject to active firefighting restrictions?  As anybody who reads the news or watches movies like "Eye in the Sky" knows, we are using drones as weapons of war to minimize collateral damage.  If that's the case, what's the problem with using drones for rural deliveries?  Did Jeff Bezos fail to make a donation to the Clinton Foundation?

If it's illegal to fly a drone carrying a package from Missoula to St.  Ignatius, who will spend the money it would take to develop a drone that could make the flight?  Nobody.  What's the reason for prohibiting the flight, heavy helicopter traffic over US Highway 93?  I haven't been there lately, but I'm guessing there's not that much flying up there. The FAA should set the conditions for safe flight, map some zones and get out of the way.  If the drones have to have a transponder to show their position to secondary radar and maintain radio contact with air traffic control in certain areas, then say so.  Without any rules for even low density low risk areas, nobody is going develop the drone technology. 

To get the FAA to act, perhaps Congress should try targeted sanctions.  All political appointees in the FAA should get a 10% pay cut for every Congressional deadline they fail to meet on drone regulations.  The cuts would be restored only when the task was finally completed.




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