Drone Backlash

The backlash against FAA drone rules is in full force. The Guardian’s article on this subject notes that several experts and several commercial drone companies are all quite disappointed by the FAA’s ‘restrictive’ rules. Take a read.

There is a typical set of responses concerning nighttime operation that are especially enlightening. Drones are fine to operate at night because:

1) we can light them up like Christmas trees.

2) they’re just as dumb during the day as they are at night. so we might as well use them at night, too.

I really enjoy these two arguments. The whole line-of-sight argument is not about seeing a drone that’s lit up; it’s about the fact that human eyes can see the drone (in the day) as well as the drone’s surroundings (in the day). So– we could constrain ourselves to early flights when the operator can see the drone and can see its surroundings. Oh- right- that’s called daytime. In fact the rules specify VFR applies- visual flight rules with visibility at 3 miles or better. So, just like many recreational aircraft today- the pilot needs to see in order to pilot safely. That means daylight and good visibility, to boot.

Stay tuned for ever more rhetoric as commercial operators work to carve out the largest possible working domain for drone monetization…

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