Unmanned aerial craft have recently taken the world by storm; these devices were unheard of in the civilian sector until just a few years ago. With the boom in easily acquired and operated remote-controlled aircraft has come a slew of issues and contentions surrounding them.
As the technology that drives “drones” matures and becomes more widespread, the need for regulation on the books is becoming apparent. The inherent danger that an object moving at high speeds through the air possesses doesn’t have to be articulated; the addition of a camera or other surveillance equipment elevates the risk posed by these devices exponentially.
As more drone-related incidents occur every day, policymakers are scrambling to come up with new laws and regulations to govern the field. Consumer drone use has outpaced all expectations, with sites like Hddmag.com demonstrating the popularity and low cost of entry into the hobby. As a result of such widespread use, drones have been the cause of several aircraft accidents that have led to fatalities.
Widespread Use of Drones
With the recent use of cheap consumer drones by terrorist groups like ISIS to great effect, lawmakers are directing more of their attention towards remote-controlled aircraft. Drones are being used to disrupt and wreak havoc across zones once thought secure, with reports of them striking aircraft at airports and flying over nuclear power plants. The low cost of entry involved with acquiring a consumer model drone – paired with the relative anonymity of use – make it an attractive option for criminals to utilize in their operations.
Companies are chomping at the bit to introduce unmanned aerial vehicles into their fleets to replace traditional delivery methods, which is proving to be difficult due to outdated laws that don’t have provisions for unmanned craft. Though some industries employ drones to meet their needs, demand for more in-depth guidelines is at an all-time high. Some countries, like India and Egypt, have outright banned the use of drones without special provisions from their respective aviation regulating bodies.
Any commercial drone pilot in the United States will be familiar with the Federal Aviation Administration rules in Part 107, which have been written to govern the flight of unmanned craft. Part 107 was put into effect in the summer of 2016 to relieve the burden of industries that require the use of remote control aircraft. In the past, drone operators were required to adhere to the same standards as the pilot of a manned craft, including medical examinations and keeping a pilot’s license in good standing. The regulations in Part 107 were rewritten to make more sense and allow for easier and cheaper use by commercial entities.
Until better rules and regulations regarding drones are put into effect, many nations are relying on regulations already on the books to govern the use of these devices. Provisions that pertain to civilian and ultra-lightweight drones are being considered in Australia and China to set standards for their use and operation.
Until these laws can take effect, many courts and authorities are interpreting current regulations and standards applied to similar cases to make the best judgment call possible.