I first published this sample letter in the February 17th issue of Dronin’ On, Our Common Cause Part 2. It is written to support a grassroots campaign to rewrite Section 336 so that Remote Identification applies to all drone operators regardless of whether they are flying under Part 101 or Part 107 or Section 336.
You can learn more about why until 336 is rewritten there will be no expanded operations in Our Common Cause.
You can find the addresses for your Senators and Representative here. Most Congressional websites will ask you to identify the category your inquiry is relevant to.
This issue impacts the future of the commercial drone industry, so I chose ‘Jobs’.
To maximize the impact of your letter, I suggest that you modify this to reflect the interests of your state. Because to a Congress person it’s all about jobs and votes.
Dear Mr. Heinrich:
I wanted to take a moment to bring your attention to an opportunity to influence impending legislation that will have a direct economic impact on New Mexico.
The issue has to do with drones (UAS). New Mexico is deeply involved through the leadership of New Mexico State University which is an FAA test site. Drones have been used to inspect Elephant Butte Dam and to inspect miles of BNSF track as part of the FAA Pathfinder program.
But it’s not all good – as a result of the potential threat that unidentified drones represent, all New Mexico military bases and certain DOE sites have been declared no fly zones, a drone ran into a Black Hawk helicopter over New York City and most recently came dangerously close to a commercial airliner on final approach into McCarran Airport.
As you know, in 2016 Congress enacted The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act. In SECTION 2202, the FAA was instructed to develop a Remote Identification standard.
It is important to understand that Remote Identification – more specifically the ability to identify who is who and ultimately distinguish friend from foe – is a central issue with the DOD, DOJ and DHS who have already blocked a proposed overflight rule presented to OIRA.
In 2017, the FAA convened the UAS Remote ID and Tracking Advisory Committee (ARC) to provide industry input they could use to draft a rule. The ARC delivered its recommendations in December with a large group dissenting because the rule would not be applied to recreational/hobbyist fliers who represent 90% of all registered drones in the US.
Based on the recent court ruling in Taylor v Huerta, recreational/hobbyist fliers are “exempted” from a Remote Identification rule by Section 336, a provision of the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act which was originally intended to protect traditional model aircraft hobbyists.
Your colleagues are well aware of this issue. In the recent Transportation and Infrastructure Hearing on Aviation Safety, Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen asked whether recreational use of drones should really be unregulated, as use grows exponentially. In his opening remarks, Full Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio stated: “Congress, rather stupidly, adopted an amendment in the FAA bill restricting the FAA regulation of drones flown by recreational users….now there are hundreds of thousands of these things out there with people who have been interfering with firefighting, they’ve flown one into a helicopter, had many near misses with jetliners…so we’ve got to change that and we’ve got to get a handle on these recreational drones.”
As the FAA must be reauthorized or extended by the end of March 2018, I am asking you to work with the appropriate committees to rewrite 336 so that the recreational/hobbyist fliers are governed by the same rule set as the commercial UAS pilots which is Part 107.
To enable the industry to achieve its economic potential, we need a consistent, skills-based regulatory program that is uniformly applied to anyone who flies a drone.
I publish a weekly industry newsletter called Dronin’ On and follow these issues closely. Please do not hesitate to call on me if I can provide you with any additional background.
Thank you for your support.