A recent accidental leak of a document that discussed possible FAA regulations for governing commercial drone activity in the sky has brought to light the contours of a future regulatory regime being anticipated by the authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration’s document that was first discovered available on the regulations.gov website by Steve Zeets, a land surveyor, appears to show the Government’s favorable stance on the commercialization of domestic airspace with low-flying private drones. The FAA document discussed the economic implications and the resultant outcomes of a drone filled sky space.
The Government’s favorable stance is indicated strongly by the unequivocal assumptions on which the FAA worked upon, while drafting the economic analysis of a drone specific airspace regulatory regime. In completely unambiguous terms, the FAA document clearly revealed that the Government believed drones to be a great innovation that unlocked several social and economic benefits.
Further, drone delivery will also remove significant traffic from the road and onto the air, thus, indirectly reducing the dangers of road accidents too. Drone based delivery, needless to say, can easily prove to be a much faster mode of delivery to the customer’s premises. Moreover, the employment of drones also frees up the urgency for a delivery vehicle to speed through and reach on time. Keeping the several significant benefits in mind, the FAA recognized the need for a beneficial regulatory regime that enables the full potential of drone based delivery systems.
The report did observe that if even one fatality caused to a tower climber is prevented by the employment of a drone instead, a total of $9.2 million gets saved. These savings would, according to the FAA’s report, far exceed any and entire costs that may be felt by society due to the proposed regulations.
The proposed regulations can be gleaned for a preliminary peak into the expected legal regime for drones in the future. The report was in favor of drones that weighed less than 55 pounds and anything weighing over than that may not be permitted as a ‘drone’. Safety concerns drove FAA to exclude manned aircraft as these pose a high level of risk. The FAA has shown keenness only for the lightweight and unmanned dronecrafts.
This document has surprised many as the FAA has displayed a common sensical approach to rule making as opposed to the highfalutin jargon based convolutions that usually plague Governmental reports on proposed regulations. However, those who are waiting in the wings to deploy drone deliverers may have to wait for a little longer than what many may have assumed after the recent FAA document leak.
The Government will have to first come out with an official release over the proposed regulations and public comments will be sought to further fine-tune the regulations in accordance with business requirements and customer welfare needs. Once the comments are received, only then will the FAA start incorporating the public feedback and modify the regulations accordingly. This process may take up to another year before drone delivery modes literally take up to the skies.