A consultant holds a drone made by HiTec during the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on December 13, 2014. (Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
We spent a lot of time this week reporting on something that’s up in the air: the yet-to-be-issued notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) for small remotely piloted aircraft, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles.
That NPRM will be a big step as the Federal Aviation Administration moves toward a final rule allowing commercial use of drones.
But the FAA may not issue a final rule until 2017 – which drone industry ally Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D- Ore. says is “unacceptable.”
Michael Drobac, head of the Small UAV Coalition, said “technology is being stifled in the U.S., but only in the U.S.”
At a House hearing Wednesday the FAA’s man in charge of UAV integration James Williams said the rule must “go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.” He added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”
Meanwhile airports were one part of the nation’s infrastructure that did not get explicit mention by President Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night – but Congress is going to pass or at least try to pas, an FAA reauthorization bill this year and it could embody significant policy changes.
On the ground or below it, travelers are at risk in our nation’s capital as a fatal Jan. 12 smoke incident on the Metro made dramatically apparent.
D.C.-area members of Congress are pledging to keep a wary watch over Metro managers as they work to fix the safety problems.