Commercial Use of Drones

Commercial use of Drones (link to article on DIYdrones)

I’m at SXSW Interactive, and I’m glad to see that the programming is not “all drones all the time.” There are some drone related panels, but no hype-overexposure. So the industry can just go do it’s jobs, without having to respond to outsized outside expectations.

Yesterday, the running about commercial use of drones came around. It’s great news. Trappy (Pirker) had been fined for recklessness. That’s somewhat different from the more common situation where the FAA issues cease-and-desists agains commercial operators. Schulman and Trappy argued that the FAA did not actually have authority to interfere with drone businesses, and their view, for now, prevailed. Of course, the FAA will not just accept the ruling, and they promptly have appealed. At least, there is a grey area now.

The FAA of course is still in charge of airspace in the USA, and in charge of “things not falling on our heads”. There is a published roadmap for integration of small drones into the national airspace, and there is a rule making process around using drones in progress. The draft of these rules was just delayed again, by another half year, but eventually it will become available.

Some may interpret the current court ruling as a manifestation of the latent conflict of interest between the drone industry (open up the skies) and the FAA (stay out of out skies, or be really careful if you come in.) Looking beyond the ruling, of course we’ll need rules. (Michael Toscano of the AUVSI, in reaction to the ruling, quickly affirmed as much.) Maybe the grey area that’s open now can be used to establish some reasonable practices, while drone flyers can pay their bills, on the right side of the law.


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