Drone Hobbyists Face Legislation For Commercial Interference

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Congress is considering a bill that could put it at odds with a growing number of amateur drone operators, an estimated 1.6 million of them.  Largely unrestricted in the current environment, civilians are coming under scrutiny, reports InsuranceJournal.com.  The Academy of Model Aeronautics Inc. participated in crafting the bill.  However, spokesperson Chad Budreau noted that hobbyists would be unhappy with certain flying restrictions, like a proposed 400-foot ceiling. “These new restrictions may have a detrimental impact on long-standing model aviation activities that support local charities and non-profits,” he said.

New rules would allow hobbyists to operate drones by video, or FPV, but regulates that an observer would need to act as a spotter for the person flying remotely.  Members of the FPV Freedom Coalition believe that they already fly safely, steering clear of airports and maintaining a low altitude. “It’s just being shoved down our throats,” Sean Wendland, an amateur drone hobbyist, told InsuranceJournal.com. “We’re literally losing our freedom to have input into the process.”   

Speaking in favor of imposing limitations, Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) said, “Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 reports of drone sightings by pilots, citizens, and law enforcement.  These operators have impeded wildfire suppression, including in my district this summer, and have put lives in danger through collisions or near-collisions with manned aircraft.” Another controversial point involves mandating FAA approved radio beacons that would put an end to a flyer’s anonymity, by tracking each drone’s position and owner.

Summarizing the situation, Drone User Group Network president Steve Cohen said, “The bill has many positives for commercial operators, but is overwhelmingly bad for recreational fliers,” according to the account.

November 14, 2018               

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