graphic from JDA story

This walk is not intended as an excuse, but hopefully once aware of the constraints, requirements, procedures, mission, expectation, scope and history, your understanding will add to your ability to deal with and advocate to the FAA.

There are lots of reasons to find fault with the FAA’s handling of drones, but constantly throwing rocks at the regulator will not make them stop, improve their view of UAS’ nor ingratiate your advocates’ next request to change the rules. Anger tends to drive critiques to use vituperation instead of logic and precludes any real future ability to work with the 800# gorilla (it’s no accident the headquarters’ address is 800 Independence Ave.).

Here are a few observations which may contribute to future dialogues:

[There are 30 in all.]

If, however, you can hold that anger and be reminded of this “walk a mile” lesson, your dialogue with those “intransigent” bureaucrats may become more modulated and thus may become more effective.

I thought that with Mr. Huerta’s concerted attempts to make nice it was getting a bit safer to go in the metaphorical water. But apparently I missed something.
Joseph Del Balzo is the President of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, a company offering a wide range of airport and airspace planning, safety, security, training and technology application support to international civil aviation clients. Specific to this article he is a former FAA Acting Administrator so he knows whereof he speaks…
As you would expect from anything with 30 bullet points (plus sub-bullets on occasion) it is a very comprehensive list. But one item stands out to me:

3. Its mission is to regulate in a way that preserves safety; facilitating business is not a priority.

It may seem obvious but I bring it up because I believe that this is at the heart of the tension between the aviation world and the tech world which see drones as robots that carry sensors to create business value. The fact that drones fly is secondary to a dronepreneur,  just as the business value of the data is to the FAA if you have to fly to get it.
As Joe points out (#’s 11-14) the rulemaking process is slow. Compare that to the speed of global social change driven by technology and you have the makings of if not a perfect storm at least some misunderstanding.  
Until now it was “I want to get on a plane and then I want to get off.” Unless you were involved with the plane, you weren’t likely to have an opinion about how they were regulated. It’s not that people have opinions now – certainly not informed ones – it is that a culture built on disintermediation expects that all of the existing rules will change when confronted by the “better way” enabled by their technology.
My guess is that neither the FAA nor the technology/drone industry will be unchanged by the experience.


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