The FAA Plays Favorites in Its War on Drones

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Amazon Prime Air on December 7, 2016, delivered a package in 13 minutes from the purchase.

But this was in the U.K., where Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos moved his autonomous drone delivery research after the Federal Aviation Administration’s 624-page rulebook crushed the United State’s drone industry in 2016.

Congress mandated in 2012 the FAA Modernization and Reform Act regulating the $80-billion drone industry to integrate commercial drones into public airspace by Sept. 2015 and the public drones by January 1, 2015.

The FAA missed both deadlines, citing safety standards while denying Amazon’s testing privileges, whose self-regulation standards were higher than the FAA’s. Bezos moved research overseas where thousands of drones are already registered under the progressive Civil Aviation Authority, Britain’s version of the FAA.

Regulations are still strict and they don’t guarantee the privilege to all companies; instead, the government will pick favorites.

 

Amazon in Seattle wants to deliver packages under five pounds in 30 minutes or less using drones. But until the FAA relaxes restrictions, Seattle residents must settle for two-day shipping.

On May 10, 2018, Uber CEO said the company will enact drone delivery in 5-30 minutes from the order by 2021. The announcement followed FAA regulations allowing Uber, Alphabet, Intel, FedEx, and Qualcomm to test drone deliveries (the FAA only missed the original deadline by four years). Regulations are still strict and they don’t guarantee the privilege to all companies; instead, the government will pick favorites.

New technology carries unseen problems, including invasion of privacy, weight limits, and drone wrecks. But Luddites who want drone delivery banned succumb to the same fear that caused refusal to upgrade from horse and carriages to Model T’s because of the dangers of driving.

Problems can only be solved when they are tested. Security features such as seatbelts, airbags, and crumple zones increased car safety. Moreover, competition pushed car manufacturers to innovate. American car companies Ford and Nash offered two-point waist seatbelts as add-ons, but these often caused more harm than safety. In 1959 Volvo's Nils Bohlen introduced the 3-point seatbelt that's used today—and refused to patent it. If the FAA allowed drone delivery four years ago, drone problems would likely already be solved. Only cutthroat competition between companies built car safety features.

Predetermining winners doesn't work. Whether it's Boeing or Ford, government subsidies don't give companies skin in the game.

 

The government rarely creates life-changing inventions; instead, private-sector entrepreneurs risk capital to change the future. In the 1900s America raced against other world powers to create the first airplane. Congress gave Samuel Langley, a renowned aviation expert, $50,000 for his first two experiments; neither got airborne.

Nine days after Langley's flights (and taxpayer money) plunged into the Potomac, two bicycle mechanics launched a 59-second flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. The Wright brothers spent $2,000 of their own money and built the glider in their garage.

Predetermining winners doesn't work. Whether it's Boeing or Ford, government subsidies don't give companies skin in the game.

The true potential of drone delivery, ranging from medicine delivery to half-time shows, is unimaginable until legal for all companies.

Scott McClallen
Scott McClallen

 

Scott McClallen graduated from Hillsdale College in 2018 with degrees in Journalism and Economics; he's wrote for over six publications and currently works as a financial analyst for Pepsi.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Source: fee.org
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