FAA to Assess Safety of Drones in US Airspace

Kaye Beach
Feb. 16, 2012
From EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center)
FAA to Assess Safety of Drones in US Airspace
In a 2012 re-authorization bill for the Federal Aviation
Administration, Congress has required the agency to develop rules
governing the operation of unmanned drones within US national airspace.
The FAA’s official duties include requirements to promulgate
regulations that will ensure a safe and efficient US airspace.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the FAA to
conduct a public rulemaking that will assess public safety concerns,
licensing requirements, flight standards, and air traffic requirements.
The FAA Secretary will also undertake safety studies and develop
standards for “safe operation” of drones in US airspace. However, the
legislation does not consider it necessary to assess the privacy risks
of drone deployment.
Currently, anyone can apply for a license to operate a drone; the only
barriers to operation of unmanned aircraft are procedural requirements
that oblige drone operators to obtain operation certificates. The FAA
is required to take safety into account when promulgating regulations,
and, in some limited circumstances, also must consider the public
interest. Additionally, the FAA may, but need not, choose to consider
other elements, such as privacy, when implementing regulations.
Drones may be equipped with high-resolution cameras and camcorders,
license plate readers, and infrared sensors. Many drones possess
weapons capabilities. Currently, technology is being developed to
outfit drones with facial recognition technology. Domestic drone use
has increased dramatically in recent years; the cities of Miami, FL,
and Conroe, TX, outside of Houston, have acquired drones for use by law
enforcement. The US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection operates
10 Predator drones along US borders. In late 2011, the Bureau found
itself embroiled in controversy when it was reported that a drone was
loaned to North Dakota law enforcement to locate missing livestock.
EPIC:  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Drones
FAA:  2012 Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act
US Customs and Border Protection:  Unmanned Aircraft Systems Overview
FAA:  Fact Sheet on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
In a 2012 re-authorization bill for the Federal Aviation
Administration, Congress has required the agency to develop rules
governing the operation of unmanned drones within US national airspace.
The FAA’s official duties include requirements to promulgate
regulations that will ensure a safe and efficient US airspace.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the FAA to
conduct a public rulemaking that will assess public safety concerns,
licensing requirements, flight standards, and air traffic requirements.
The FAA Secretary will also undertake safety studies and develop
standards for “safe operation” of drones in US airspace. However, the
legislation does not consider it necessary to assess the privacy risks
of drone deployment.
Currently, anyone can apply for a license to operate a drone; the only
barriers to operation of unmanned aircraft are procedural requirements
that oblige drone operators to obtain operation certificates. The FAA
is required to take safety into account when promulgating regulations,
and, in some limited circumstances, also must consider the public
interest. Additionally, the FAA may, but need not, choose to consider
other elements, such as privacy, when implementing regulations.
Drones may be equipped with high-resolution cameras and camcorders,
license plate readers, and infrared sensors. Many drones possess
weapons capabilities. Currently, technology is being developed to
outfit drones with facial recognition technology. Domestic drone use
has increased dramatically in recent years; the cities of Miami, FL,
and Conroe, TX, outside of Houston, have acquired drones for use by law
enforcement. The US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection operates
10 Predator drones along US borders. In late 2011, the Bureau found
itself embroiled in controversy when it was reported that a drone was
loaned to North Dakota law enforcement to locate missing livestock.
EPIC:  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Drones
FAA:  2012 Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act
US Customs and Border Protection:  Unmanned Aircraft Systems Overview
FAA:  Fact Sheet on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
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One response to “FAA to Assess Safety of Drones in US Airspace

  1. Wouldn’t ‘Drones’ describe most of the people in D.C….

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