PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Opinion

FAA roadblock

By From page A4 | February 12, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration is standing in the way of progress and taking too long to write rules about things it should have minimal, if any, say over.

Case No. 1 is aerial drones used by real estate photographers that don’t go any higher than 500 feet. Real estate photographers use balloons or mini-blimps that go up about 50-150 feet. That is little different than a hovering drone with a remote-controlled camera whose view can be seen by the operator. It’s not much different than flying a kite. In rural areas, which is uncontrolled air space, where’s the problem? In high-traffic areas like Los Angeles or the Bay Area the FAA should be able to come up with a maximum height similar to remote-controlled hobby aircraft and ban their use within so many miles of an airport.

The other commercial-type use that came in for a cease-and-desist order from the FAA was Lakemead Beer in Minnesota that apparently set up on the edge of a lake and delivered a 12-pack of beer to an ice fisherman’s shack at a low enough altitude to be “flying over the head of a curious onlooker.” The craft beer brewer is scoping out “drone ports around Minnesota lakes” in hopes the FAA will publish rules for small unmanned areal systems in a responsible time period.

Ice fishing drone ports? What a concept.

Case No. 2 of FAA overreach is its desire to regulate commercial space flight, such a Virgin Galactic. What’s the beef? Orbital debris. Yep, the FAA is worried about space junk. Try telling that to the Chinese and their frozen Moon vehicle. The FAA also wants to certify carrier planes that transport passenger rocket ships.

However, there is a 2004 law that called for minimal FAA regulation of the Virgin Galactic and a handful of other private projects aiming to take passengers into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The FAA needs to back off. Let the passengers beware.

Mountain Democrat

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