Drone Makers: Forget Privacy — FAA Should Focus on its Mission

Delay prompts contentious communication.

Drone

Drone

With the recent announcement by the FAA that it was slowing the process of designating official testing sites for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in part over privacy concerns, the organization that represents drone makers has a blunt message for the FAA that is perhaps best translated as, “Do your job.”

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in an open letter to the FAA said that since “the primary mission of the FAA is safety” the agency should “adhere to the will of Congress” and immediately announce its UAS test site selection process in order to move UAS integration forward without further delay.”

The head of the FAA, Michael Huerta, who is currently going through the confirmation process, announced the slowdown recently in light of difficulties defining integrating drones “as [FAA personnel] evaluate options with our interagency partners to appropriately address privacy concerns regarding the expanded use of UAS.”

It's not clear that even if it wanted to, the FAA would be able to accommodate Congress's remarkably ambitious timetable, something that should come as no surprise to Flying readers. When the legislation was signed into law, we immediately said the pace of integration was unsafe and unworkable. If the slowdown is a delaying tactic by the FAA, it might just work, as both public and congressional sentiment toward the integration program has cooled substantially. Several bills have been introduced in recent weeks that would greatly limit the powers of those who operate drones.