The Washington Post’s Editorial page is one of the last remaining mainstream editorial pages that still seems to have a few adults in charge. On Sunday, it published a remarkably simple and cogent pronouncement on the state of drone regulations. Noting the dissonance between regulations over commercial vs. recreational operators, as well as the reports of drones entering sensitive airspace, the editors have a few suggestions:
The FAA should finally release rules governing commercial drone flights shorn of the absurd requirement that operators must have hours of cockpit time in real planes. Commercial drone pilots should have adequate practice on the equipment they are actually using, and they should be up to speed on FAA rules on unmanned aircraft, air traffic control practices and how to deal with bad weather. They don’t need to know how to land a Cessna. If the FAA doesn’t make that clear, Congress should.
Meanwhile, the FAA should also find better ways to keep drones out of sensitive airspace.
The editors point to something that we have frequently suggested, that manufacturers of recreational drones be required to include built-in altitude and geo-fencing restrictions. Indeed, the editors note that some manufacturers are already doing so. If the FAA declines to take this common sense approach, then Congress might have to step up and mandate that it do so.