“No, we didn’t get it cleared, but we don’t get our pop flies cleared either and those go higher than this thing did,” a team official said when contacted by The Associated Press. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named.
The FAA, which contends it controls access to the nation’s air space, bars commercial use of drones. The lone exception is an oil company that has been granted permission to fly drones over the Arctic Ocean – and it took an act of Congress to win that concession.
FAA officials say rules to address the special safety challenges associated with unmanned aircraft need to be in place before they can share the sky with manned aircraft. The agency has worked on those regulations for the past decade, but is still months and possibly years away from final rules for small drones, those weighing less than 55 pounds. Rules for larger drones are even further off.
But tempting technology and an eager marketplace are outrunning the aviation agency. Photographers, real estate agents, moviemakers and others are hurrying to embrace drone technology. Drones have been used to photograph the two apartment buildings that collapsed in New York City this past week and a car crash in Connecticut. The AP is one of several news organizations studying the possible use of drones.
Worldwide sales of military and civilian drones will reach an estimated $89 billion over the next decade, according to the Teal Group, an aerospace research company in Fairfax, Virginia. The FAA estimates as many as 7,500 small commercial drones will be in use by 2018, assuming the necessary regulations are in place.
The use of commercial drones, most of them small, is starting to spread to countries where authorities have decided the aircraft presents little threat if operators follow a few safety rules. The drone industry and some members of Congress are worried the United States will be one of the last countries, rather than one of the first, to gain the economic benefits of the technology.
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting another 20 years,” said Paul McDuffee, vice president of drone-maker Insitu of Bingen, Wash., a subsidiary of Boeing. “This industry is exploding. It’s getting to the point where it may end up happening with or without the FAA’s blessing.”<< previous 1 2 3 next >>