Film or Farm: Which is the Bigger Drone Market? – Part 1

This is Part 1 in a two-part series that summarizes my views on why video/film/cinema – not agriculture and farming — will be the largest driver of sUAS commercial businesses. In this part I explore thoughts on the market for video/film/cinema, and below I outline why I believe film and video will […]

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CAA continues to prosecute FPV flyers

On the 23rd May 2014 the CAA successfully prosecuted an FPV flyer; Mark Spencer flew a quadcopter FPV over Alton Towers without permission whilst members of the public were at the theme park, he pleaded guilty to the charges against him. The video had been posted on YouTube originally and has since been removed. The total […]Read more…

California Democratic Party Resolution To End Unlawful Drone Strikes, Extrajudicial Executions, and Restrict Domestic Drone Surveillance

To add to our post about state drone resolutions, last year the California Democratic Party uniquely passed an anti-drone resolution (pages 9-10 of this PDF) which a co-author, Peter Leinau, hopes will “be a part of a mainstream push back by the Democratic Party members AND leadership against both drones and extra-judicial assassinations.” The resolution …

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Which is Better: Open Source or Proprietary Drone Software?

Just like Google vs. Apple When the Apple iPad first appeared on the market in 2010, I didn’t jump in to buy one. I didn’t own an iPhone, I had a company-issued Blackberry, so I wasn’t motivated. Besides, I figured there would be a better model a year or so later. So […]

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Buying a Drone for Business in the USA?

Drone Life says essentially “buy and fly” a drone, but read its remarks both with a grain of salt and beyond the first sentence:

Read beyond the first sentence: rt @Drone_Life Fly Your Drone. Don’t Worry About the FAA 

This is especially true if you plan to use a drone for your business. I would err on the side of caution. I do not buy a drone for my law firm. I do feel comfortable buying and using it only for personal purposes until the legal dust settles. Practice makes perfect, and I want to be ready for when the FAA legitimizes commercial drones without qualifications.

Currently, the law as claimed by the FAA on the one hand, and by commenters on the other, gives us a fuzzy picture. I would rather not have to defend an action from the FAA. Presently, the FAA is still in the mode where it claims commercial use to be illegal and subject to fines.

Do you plan to use a drone as a realtor, farmer or rescue volunteer? It is a great idea.

You have a wide range of legal positions to consider: You can take the position explained by Drone Line that, realistically, the FAA cannot catch up with all violators if they were to swarm the skies in huge numbers. Or you rely on Drone Law News which explains that the FAA wrongly argues the law. You can also track the FAA and Pirker positions in the litigation over commercial use as long as you note that the FAA has appealed the ruling in favor of the commercial user.

I am not a judge who could tell you which view is correct. Right now, my recommendation is caution, no matter how bad and sad that is for America.

For now, I will train, practice, test and tweet, for no commercial purposes.

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Les drones QuiQui livrent des médicaments par les airs à San Francisco

A peine autorisés par les autorités américaines, les premiers drones de livraison verront le jour prochainement dans le ciel californien, et notamment au dessus des têtes d’habitants de San Franciso. En effet, à l’instar d’Amazon PrimeAir, la startup QuiQui ambitionne, dès juillet 2014, de livrer les habitants du quartier de The Mission à San Francisco […]Read more…

Small UAS Rule in 2014?

It is still 2014:

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on small UAS is under development with the intent to provide safe small UAS access to the NAS. The NPRM for small UAS is being drafted and is targeted for release in 2014.

This is what the FAA projected in its UAS Comprehensive Plan Report to Congress which it sent to Congress on November 6, 2013:

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Comprehensive Plan
A Report on the Nation’s UAS Path Forward
September 2013

Much has happened, if not changed, since then. We have the Pirker v. Huerta ALJ ruling, now on appeal, holding that small drones in hobby and commercial use remain unregulated. The FAA has appealed the decision and maintains that it can fine commercial use. Churches in their special role fly drones, possibly with ATC permission, as FAA Safety Brief hinted on Twitter

On May 18, 2014, Mariella Moon predicted that an FAA green light for small UAVs weighing up to 55 pounds would arrive by November 2014.

Presumably, the FAA is aware of the need for speed. In an unusual twist, America is ready for regulations. As noted here and elsewhere, America is falling behind in using small commercial drones. Without use, there is no incentive to develop, build, sell and whatever else pulses through the veins of an economy.

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The FAA Knew a Commercial Drone Pilot Broke No Laws, Fined Him $10K Anyway

The FAA Knew a Commercial Drone Pilot Broke No Laws, Fined Him $10K Anyway:

Schulman wrote that, “having been caught trying to enforce the unenforceable, the FAA resorts to an absurd post hoc interpretation of the definition of ‘aircraft.’ All of these strained efforts are undertaken for a single purpose: to obscure the agency’s decade-long delay in issuing proposed unmanned aircraft regulations pursuant to the required notice and comment process required.”

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Les drones accompagnent les forces de Police dans leur quotidien

Les drones permettent d’adopter un point de vue en hauteur et s’avèrent très utiles aux forces de l’ordre dans de nombreuses situations de leurs tâches quotidiennes. Voici un tour d’horizon de l’utilisation des drones par les forces de Police. Le drone équipé d’un Taser : Lors du dernier festival SXSW à Austin au Texas, la société Chaotic […]Read more…

Here we go Again: FAA Targets Hobby Flyer

The other shoe has dropped. sUASnews reports that the FAA seeks a $2,200 fine from the DJI Phantom operator about whose inane downtown flight near skyscrapers and over busy streets Jason Koebler had first reported. The sUASnews report includes a copy of the FAA document. 

See prior article “Things to Learn From the New FAA Rumor” for additional details and comments. The question today on Twitter is:

If the FAA boxes itself in and loses its appeal in the Pirker case, will it issue restrictive emergency rules?

Good question. 

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Will Future FAA Rules Kill The Small Drones Market?

I just released the findings of my two-month survey studying the impact of FAA rules on small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in the U.S. You can read the press release here. Among the many insights I got from the research, these two are the most significant: Unfavorable rules will disintegrate an already […]

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Competitive Disadvantage by Law: USA

With my Master in Comparative Law, I swayed from the focus on American law governing the commercial use of drones, the topic of an interview with Julien Gathelier of Drones at Home, a journalists’ site addressing drone issues. My international take is this:

Compare the legal environment for American drone makers and their customers with that of, say French maker Parrot. In the European Union, many nations around France have clear legal rules for commercial drone activities. As a result, the market knows what is legal and can buy with confidence. No wonder a basic Parrot drone can be had for $299, including a camera, GPS and tablet or cellphone navigation app while a basic American drone will run $500 excluding a camera.

Produce and sell more, and you have economies of scale: The price comes down, and you capture the market. Conversely, if you had entered a market governed by predictable rules, such as those for remote controlled RC aircraft as applied to drones, and the government pulls that rug from under you, your customers won’t know whether they may use your great product for their intended purposes; your sales and volume drop and your manufacturer’s price needs to increase. Your competitors can fund more R&D while you fall behind.

I believe the delay in clarifying which rules apply is costing American jobs. On the one hand, the FAA had rules for small unmanned RC aircraft which on their face would apply to many civilian drones. On the other, it refuses to apply them to drones of same or similar dimensions and capabilities, even going as far as fining alleged violators $10,000 per violation while promising to issue Congress-mandated regulations by 2015.

Similarly-situated nations with dense air traffic and highly populated areas manage to update their laws and regulations. They create user experiences that open the path to new applications, uses, engineering and production, gaining significant advantages over the United States beyond those of economies of scale.

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Big Three Want A Part Of The Drone Pie

Giants Push For A Little Air Space Google’s recent announcement that it has bought a drone company called Titan Aerospace means that the internet’s three biggest giants are all now part of the Air Drone Craze. Facebook, which considered buying Titan itself, has purchased a drone-maker called Ascenta, and Amazon has been busy with their […]

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