What Drone Regulations Mean for the Aviation Industry

Drones are a touchy topic in a national conversation, with private operators insisting on open airspaces and growing public concern over privacy and safety in a largely unregulated market. The accessibility of powerful drones to the public has grown substantially over the last few years and instances of wrong-doing and questionable, even downright dangerous behavior has brought the topic of drone registration and regulation into harsh light.

Commercial drones are already subject to registration and regulation, but in a press conference last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the same restrictions will be placed on non-commercial drone operators as well.

Many drone manufacturers have voluntarily committed to improving the safety of unmanned aircrafts, but many fear that the FAA’s slow progress on the issue will be quickly outpaced by an increasingly competitive, $91 billion drone manufacturing marketplace. Meanwhile, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced a bill in the United States Senate. The bill, named the Consumer Drone Safety Act, calls for federal regulations limiting when, where, and how unmanned consumer aircraft may be operated. Furthermore, the bill requires new safety measures, such as collision-avoidance measures, transponders, geo-fencing, and anti-tampering safeguards that prevent consumers from modifying their drones to circumvent these protective measures.

Clearly, while the FAA agrees that the financial and public service benefits of drones are incredibly lucrative, these regulations are aimed at terrorism or “Lone Wolf” attacks, accidental harm to people on the ground during a crash, and interference to commercial, governmental, and military aircraft operations.

Pilots have reportedly experienced twice as many drone sightings and “close calls” with aircraft this year compared to 2014, making the risks of collision, damage, or worse, much more likely in the near future. Regulations and restrictions will help keep unmanned drones from entering prohibited airspace, high-population areas, and limit their ability to interfere with the airspace over emergency situations – a good news for human pilots. However, the downsides will keep experienced, responsible pilots from operating drones as freely they were able to in the past.

J & K Connectors is committed to serving the commercial and private aircraft industries with revolutionary parts, electrical connectors, and accessories and are looking forward to seeing how the future of commercial and consumer unmanned drones affects the aviation industry over the next several years. Check back to our blog for the latest information on drones and the rest of the aviation industry every two weeks!

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