“The ARC was focused on flight over people and, in furtherance of that goal, identified four small UAS categories, defined primarily by level of risk of injury posed, for operations over people,” says the final report. These would typically be quadcopters weighing in at 4 or 5 lbs.
DJI, which was one of the entities selected for the ARC, explains in a release that the committee recommended “allowing drone manufacturers the ability to certify the safety of their own products under this risk-based system…”
Another ARC member, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, notes in a statement that the report also recommends getting rid of the “burdensome airman licensing requirement that should not apply to operators of the smallest drones.”
In the meantime, the Small UAV Coalition is urging the FAA to authorize over-people drone operations for those holding commercial exemptions. “The ability to safely operate UAS over populated areas is critical to realizing the full potential of commercial and recreational UAS applications and enabling the United States to fully and safely embrace the vast economic and consumer benefits of UAS as a whole,” the coalition says in a release.
To do so, the operations must be “conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus standards for conducting risk mitigation.”
So the gist of this is that we are going to let the fox certify that they are safe to go in the hen house. So where is the burden on them? What guarantees and warranties express and implied are they willing to make? What happens when someone gets hurt?
I am hugely pro-drones. But sticking 25 vested interests in a room for 3-4 days to come up with a rule that regulates their own ambitions is not responsible. As far as I know there is no industry standard for conducting risk mitigation. If there is I would like to see it.
There must be certification in the form of practical tests. There must be a liability insurance component on both the manufacturer and operator. There must be metrics and the opportunity to adjust this based on real world experience.
Let me be clear. I am not interested in holding back progress. I am interested in making sure that rushing ahead in the name of progress doesn’t end up holding us all back… particularly at the expense of innocent bystanders.