FAA Reauthorization Bill to Reach Senate Floor: Possible Impacts and the Future of Drone Regulations

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What exactly is FAA Reauthorization, and what does it mean for the drone industry?

You may have heard the term "FAA Reauthorization" bouncing around in news headlines recently as the U.S. Senate moves toward a vote on the FAA Reauthorization Act.

It's time for drone operators to join the conversation if they want to have a say in this major decision before it's all said and done. We explain what's been going on in the Senate and provide some clarity on reauthorization in our latest blog post: https://uavcoach.com/faa-reauthorization-bill/

We'd like to hear your thoughts on the bill. How do you think the drone industry will benefit or lose out if the bill is passed?

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7 hours ago, Isabella | UAV Coach said:

It's time for drone operators to join the conversation if they want to have a say in this major decision before it's all said and done

Hi Isabella,

Unfortunately, all most drone operators have done so far is talk!  Its to late for them to "join" the conversation.

There's a process that the FAA must go through to create regulations, if drone operators want to have any chance of influencing the decisions that will effect this industry then they need to stand up for their rights by forming an industry trade organization that can lobby for their interest.

Not like The Small UAV Coalition, or the commercial Drone Alliance , ones a bunch of attorneys who are only looking out for the interest of a few large companies and the other a lot of trade show activity.  





I'm not an anarchist that's opposed to common sense regulations, but don't think for a minute that these organizations represent the best interests of the commercial drone industry.  They talk a mean game but they say one thing and do another.

We need an organization that is willing to hold elected officials and government agencies accountable, not ones that suck up to them by throwing the hobbyists under the bus to gain favor to get what they want.  Not sure if you saw the hearing in the house regarding this but the representatives from SUC and CDA started a sentence and the FAA finished it.    It was kind of embarrassing. 

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@Isabella | UAV Coach only if the people the trade organization is for make it happen. 

All the organizations vying to be “the” trade organization are either trying to sell something, stop you from doing something or steal something from UAS operators. 

While most of the commercial operators are busy debating why DJI postpone their latest product release.  

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We need to be careful not to conflate the issues between hobbyists and commercial operators, they are very different.  Having said that there seems to be a tendency for each to throw the other under the bus in this debate.  Although they are different most of the so-called coalitions and the FAA are trying combine the issues into one category.  

As this video points out, the FAA is using false data to consolidate its authority, what UAV operators need to understand about the political process is that it means they don’t actually have the authority and that the purpose of a trade organization is to be a significant part of the process so it can influence all the aspects of UAS commerce, not just the flight regulations.  The FAA is prohibited by law from regulating commerce, so under the “catch all” of safety they try to regulate commerce through flight rules.  This is why they need the statistics and also why they have lost most, if not all the court cases regarding commerial operations prior to rule107.  

Most of the discussions on this forum regarding commercial operators are around missions like real estate, NDVI, cell tower inspections, etc and how can a commercial operator make money when all anyone is willing to pay is $200 for example.  Do we need a trade organization to protect operators that have no hope of being profitable?  Probably not so there’s not much incentive to form one.  However, what if commercial missions paid an order of magnitude higher, say $10,000 to $20,000 per mission? Would more people be interested in it then?  Would they be willing to pay to join?  Would they get involved then? 

A trade organization shouldn’t exist to protect things the way they are, it should be there to protect the opportunity for what it could be for its members.  There’s a growing list of companies who are making that much on every mission.  Not only that but they can’t keep up with demand.  So they’re too busy to take on this battle. 

We’re not entitled to be successful UAV entrepreneurs, we have to earn it.  If the people who are serious about making some aspect of commercial UAV a career I’d recommend figuring out a way of becoming influential in the development of the industry.  That’s not going to happen one $200 roof inspection at a time.  


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  • 1 month later...

Just received an email from the AMA stating that the FAA reauthorization bill was introduced today (9/22/2018) and while some of the changes are positive there are some that will affect the "hobby". They need to digest it further over the next few days but provided a direct link to the bill.



Edited by Spitfire76
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So I took a quick look at HR302.  I'm certainly no expert at reading these horrible things (it's amazing anything ever gets done in Washington - oh that's right, it doesn't).  For those that are interested, take a look at page 282 line 16.  That's the beginning of Section 349. As we know, hobbyists that wish to operate within 5 miles of an airport must simply notify the airport management and the tower, if one is present.  The hobbyist is not requesting permission or authorization, simply stating his intention to fly and he does not need to hold a Part 107 Certificate.  So look at this section and tell me if that would change.  I'm just not sure what it's saying.

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‘‘(5) In Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the operator obtains prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.

Yes I think this changes everything.  This is one of those weirdly worded "catchall" regulations stating that you need authorization  from the "Administrator or designee" if your planning on flying at all in Class B, C, D.  


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1 hour ago, Ed O'Grady said:

That was my point.  It goes on to say you need a part 107 certificate.  My take is that somebody was writing this, fell asleep, and woke up and continued writing the wrong law!


(5) In Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace 20 or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area 21 of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the 22 operator obtains prior authorization from the Ad23 ministrator or designee before operating and com24 plies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.

[Regarding operation in Class G]

‘‘(7) The operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test described in subsection (g) 7 and maintains proof of test passage to be made 8 available to the Administrator or law enforcement 9 upon request.

Just a couple of paragraphs indicating the same requirements as 107.

Remember Bruce's video commentary of the hearing?    Remember how the AMA said they were at the meeting but didn't participate?

This is exactly the language the "stakeholders" were asking for at that hearing. "Big Drone" absolutely wants to get rid of pesky hobbyists. After that, they can rein-in the small independent 107 guys by getting insurance and bonding requirements out of their reach.  

Dang, I'm sounding a pessimistic as Chuck on this one. 

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Latest from the AMA.

As far as I understood this is what they like for hobbyists

  • Better defines a community based organizations like the AMA
  • Better defines FPV
  • Removes notification rings around airports 
  • remote id not yet imposed 

and this is what that don't like

  • comply with 400 ft AGL cap
  • obtain airspace authorization in controlled airspace near towered airports or
  • fly only at community based flying sites that have an agreement with those airfields


Edited by Spitfire76
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"Drone Hobbyists Angered by Congress Ending the Aerial Wild West"

Unfortunately the AMA is just another feckless group of old people thinking they knew how to protect the rights of its users.  Every time this sort of thing happens they suck-up to the FAA thinking that if their the standard for Community Based Organizations that somehow that would exempt them from the regulations.  I guess not.

Even the title of this article says a lot of how ineffective their lobbying efforts have become.  Once again propagating the same old tired FAA story: "The FAA estimates 1.6 million drones will be sold this year in the U.S."  

The best the AMA could come up with as a response is: “These new restrictions may have a detrimental impact on long-standing model aviation activities that support local charities and non-profits,” Budreau said.  Seriously!?

The companies that are probably the most responsible for this legislation are DJI and AirMap.  

“Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 reports of drone sightings by pilots, citizens, and law enforcement,” Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon who authored much of the drone legislation..."  Again, seriously?  Out of the 6.4 million drones the FAA has said that's been sold in the last four years!  That's a .00001562 chance of running into a drone...

Not to make this all political, but we need more people like Brett Kavanaugh to stand up to the pinheads who have no idea how, or even if, drones should be regulated.   

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"Not to make this all political, but we need more people like Brett Kavanaugh to stand up to the pinheads who have no idea how, or even if, drones should be regulated."

 Well, unless he drinks a little too much leading to ralphing (because of weak stomach, not alcohol poisoning) and then falling asleep (not blacking out though).

Maybe  a better role model would be preferable.

Edited by Dave Pitman
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My point is simply that people need to start calling this BS out for what it is.  The AMA didn't, they thought they could effect change by "friending" the FAA.  Most people just want to debate it and way too often justify the FAA's position as necessary to protect safety and privacy of the general public.

Those that argued that, got what they wanted.  Oh, they didn't intend for the FAA to make it so you required to have a 107 to fly in the NAS?  You mean all those DJI sycophants didn't mean for the GEO - fencing and ID policies to have an effect on this legislation? 

The real concern is that 107 is next.  Then GA, and ultimately we'll have a user fee based NAS and single payer healthcare and everything will be great.

I don't consider Kavanaugh or Graham to be role models, but at least they stood up for what they believed and called out the hypocrisy of the people on the judiciary committee.  If you plan on using UAVs as part of your career, you have a choice, let organizations like the Commercial UAV Coalition and the AMA, manufactures and organizations that represent them, AUVSI, who were all present and spoke in support of the Reauthorization Bill determine your future in this industry or you can stand up, and speak truth to power the way that Kavanaugh and Graham did.  You don't have to agree with them or like what they said, this is not about political ideology, this about people who think they know more than the people who are actually doing the work, and enforcing their will.  

Maybe that's the definition of politics, I don't know, I'm Australian so English is a second language..

I'm not suggesting this is all doom and gloom.  Quite the contrary, this legislation probably helps me a lot more than the way it was.  What I'm saying is, don't behave like the AMA and get pissed off at the FAA and others who claim to represent the commercial UAV market when the next Reauthorization Bill takes away your $150K a year UAV job.  By then its too late.  Once a year we can gather at the local CBO flying field and talk about the good old days, get in a fight over who's fault this is,  drink a little too much leading to ralphing (because of weak stomach, not alcohol poisoning) and then fall asleep.  

Oh, the circle of life.

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Oh, I agree with you on the ideals that we need to stand up for ourselves. I just don't see any avenue to do that, do you?

 If 50,000 of the independent 107 cert holders would join the AOPA and demand representation, we would probably get it.  I doubt they are perfect, but they have been effective on keeping corporate aviation from eviscerating general aviation to be sure.  They have the machine in place and have an interest in uas.  But they won't spend resources on it unless their membership consists of a significant percentage of member uas operators. 

As far as the Senate, that's a whole different kettle of crawdads.  I dislike the way "our leaders" behave as much as the next guy.  But irrespective of the reason he was there,  the way Kavanaugh presented himself in the hearing was a travesty.  If a prosecutor or plaintiff acted that way in a trial that he was hearing I expect they would all be held in contempt.

Standing up for yourself doesn't mean you act like a spoiled brat...  Wait, he is a spoiled brat isn't he?


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I'm not sure I see an avenue either.  But I disagree with you regarding Kavanaugh's outburst.  People can't have it both ways, they can't ignore the rules of the Senate and present this kind of information in a public forum and then expect him to just sit there and let them ruin his career.

This could have and should have been handled in private, he was accused of something for which there was no corroborating evidence.  I'm certainly not a judge, nor am I on the jury, so its not up to me to pass judgement.  Mrs Ford made it clear in here letter that she did not want to go public and yet there it was.  Who's accountable for this?  Who loses their job?  

I only wish Kavanaugh and Graham would have called each and every person on that committee responsible for this out by name.  I think  your looking on the wrong side of the bench for the spoiled brat.      

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I agree with most all of your points about how it was all mishandled. Let's face it.  Politics on both sides are an unprecedented mess.

I'm just not willing to give him a pass for his behavior (at the hearing) because the whole thing was handled improperly.  Ms. Ford didn't want to be there either but she held it together and remained respectful.

Neither of us know the truth.  We can each have our opinion.  But if you just went by the hearing alone, one of the parties was much more together than the other.  And considering that one has been a jurist at the highest level for years, you would think it should be him, but it wasn't.  We will not agree on this point and that's life.

But we do agree that "we" need our own voice at the table on the road map for individual, commercial uas operation.  But it doesn't look like that's happening any time soon.


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My point is that the AMA, and others, have had a seat at the table and they followed the rules and you can see how the procedure was manipulated and the result.  We are going to be legislated out of the possibility of doing this commercially by the likes of DJI, AUVSI, large UAV DoD manufactures, Amazon and legislators who support them.  

The Supreme Court nomination was never about the truth, when one side didn’t get what they wanted this happened.  Mrs Ford was a proxy for some on the judiciary committee that in no way could they have passed the same scrutiny.  

Im Australian, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but if those legislators are willing to do this to Kavanaugh what chance do you think we have?  If it were me, I would have been dropping more than a few f-bombs. 

Why is it that ANTIFA and other violent protestors get away with what they do and it’s called civil disobedience and yet when a man, who has never been accused except in a letter to polatician, speaks out against the things they are saying in public about him, he’s the belligerent one?  

Again, my intent is not to debate the efficacy of this confirmation, it was simply to point out that “there for the grace of god to I.”  The FAA or Congress is never going to invite us to sit at the table.  They don’t even know we exist.  I agree about AOPA, but we don’t have any leverage with them either.  

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One more thing, since I’m a moderator here I should probably not stray to far into the politics of things.  Dave and I don’t always agree on things and when we don’t it has never been about talking each other into thinking the same.  

Over the years I have come to respect his opinion and I find I’m generally better off for any discussion even if we don’t agree.  Especially when we don’t agree.  

By the very nature of this thread, this is a political topic, and most people on forums tend to shy away from them.  But this is a serious issue so I encourage everyone to participate in this discussion.  Hopefully a spirited debate about the Reatherizatiin Bill will lead to an idea of a plan whether it’s necessary and how we might, as a community organize to control our future in this industry.  

Continually debating how much to charge for a wedding or property video isn’t going to get us a seat at the table.  

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On 9/22/2018 at 7:33 PM, Ed O'Grady said:

It goes on to say you need a part 107 certificate

My understanding is that hobbyist will not need to have part 107 certification but they will need to pass some sort of aeronautical test. They mention that that this could be administered by the FAA or COB like the AMA. Hopefully this will have a low age limit unlike 16 for part 107 as I can't imagine that they want to discourage kids from this hobby. After all they are the future workforce for this industry. Also it looks like hobbyist will have to obtain airspace authorization in the same way as part 107 holders instead of simply notifying the airport and ATC if flying within 5 miles of the airport.

Edited by Spitfire76
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16 minutes ago, Spitfire76 said:

Also it looks like hobbyist will have to obtain airspace authorization in the same way as part 107 holders instead of simply notifying the airport and ATC if flying within 5 miles of the airport.

I don't have the link on me right now.  But I read a paper somewhere, and I think it was an official FAA document, that the intention is to have ALL uas activity in controlled airspace go through LAANC at some point.

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11 hours ago, Av8Chuck said:

I'm not sure I see an avenue either.

I've been a member of AOPA for over 20 years.  I'll send Mark Baker (the pres) an email asking what it would take for AOPA to take up the cause.  Don't know if I'll get a reply but the effort is minimal so why not.

It looks like the CRPAA wants to be in this space but I don't think they know how.  They are looking for leadership if anyone's interested...Just sayin'  !

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While the new regulations for hobbyists are significant, in the real world it probably makes little difference.  FAA has no enforcement of Part 107 as it stands right now and there is no reason for them to increase that.  They are increasing cooperation with local agencies for the purpose of investigating reported sighting by commercial aircraft around airports, but I sense that's more of a political gesture than anything else.

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