The current state of UAV regulations around the world is in a constant state of flux to say the least. Currently it ranges from complete free for alls to all out bans on any use. The understanding of what rules do exist is also all across the map. In Canada for example the recent changes on exemptions has caused as much confusion as it has clarity. We have seen comments from people thinking that the new rules allow anyone to operator anywhere at anytime if they are under 2kgs, through to posts stating the new rules are part of a fascist police state controlled by Transport Canada and preventing even recreational hobby use. Somewhere in all the noise and extremes is the truth and reality.
Regulators are in a tough position, trying to balance safety with innovation. The potential for a major accident exists as the use of UAVs grow, and the accessibility of these aircraft, both hobby and commercial puts them into the hands of many people that may not have a background in aviation or even hobby RC. The rule makers have to work for the great public safety and unfortunately common sense is not common enough for many to self regulate or understand the safety issues involved with flying such aircraft.
A recent Wired magazine article goes into the issue of the proposed new FAA regulations in the US and how any rules are better than nothing…
…the good news outweighs the bad. Overly restrictive rules, he says, are better than no rules at all.
The UAV Digest recent podcast – UAV071 Are Strict sUAS Regulations Better Than No Regulations? covers some of these issues and concerns in balancing usage with regulations with a discussion with guest Ryan Morton, the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of SkySpecs, which produces innovative drone technologies that help pilots focus on the mission without worrying about what they might crash into next. SkySpecs is also working with various government agencies to integrate drones into the airspace.
In our opinion, Transport Canada has been taking a progressive and balanced approach to manage safety concerns but also allowing the industry to grow, working with key stake holders. Is it perfect? No but it is definitely on the right track of a balanced approach.
It is definitely not a simple path forward. The technology will evolve and the industry will grow faster than regulations can keep up. The critical issue governments must face is not stifling innovation in their country with harsh restrictive regulations, and putting the country and it’s companies at a disadvantage in the world UAV market.
As members of the industry and the hobby I feel it is our role to work with the regulators and help shape the future direction the regulations will take and work within the framework that currently exists. They may not be perfect but they at least in Canada give companies the ability to operator commercially. Helping educate and inform new operators and the public in general can go a long way to showing the industry can manage itself and work with government.
The way forward will no doubt change, rules we have in place today will change as the industry and technology grows. It is an exciting time ahead but with it also comes the frustration of trying to manage a fast moving industry. All we can do is try and work with all involved and express our concerns as we work within the framework we have.