The Commercial Drone Alliance asked Congress to revoke Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the special rule for model aircraft, which allows drone hobbyists or recreational drone flyers to fly their unmanned vehicles without a license if they adhere to safety standards.
Currently, recreational drone pilots can fly their unmanned aerial devices without a license. If the Commercial Drone Alliance gets their way, this will no longer be allowed. The non-profit organization wants recreational drone pilots to go through same licensing processing as commercial drone operators.
In a press release on Wednesday, the alliance announced that they had asked lawmakers to revoke provision 336 and make commercial and hobby drone pilots subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to the Commercial Drone Alliance, all drones should “abide by some common sense, low-cost ‘rules of the road’ around remote identification and more.” The current situation has led some drone operators “the mistaken impression they are flying legally.”
The appeal from the Commercial Drone Alliance comes at a time when the FAA is drafting regulations that would make it a requirement for all small drones to broadcast their identity to enhance security and safety. These new regulations are the result of the increase in the number of drone incidents in the US, but also around the world as well as an increase in fear of drones being used for terror attacks.
The group remarked that exempting model aircraft from regulation is “nonsensical,” due to the staggering number of hobby aircraft. As of Dec. 31, 2017, more than 873,000 hobbyist owners had registered with the FAA, which, according to estimates, amounts to more than 1.1 million drones. Over the next five years, the FAA predicts this number will more than double to 2.4 million units. According to FAA reports, drone-sighting have increased from about 1,200 in 2015 to 1,800 in 2016 and 2,200 in 2017.
There are also groups fighting to keep section 336. One such group is the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). According to a blog post, AMA is pushing for preservation of Section 336, and have “worked diligently with Congress to ensure [its] hobby is protected” in FAA reauthorization.
With many groups pushing on both sides, we will have to wait and see what the FAA decides to do. To all the hobbyist- Would you get your license to fly your drone recreationally?