The Associated Press ran an article yesterday on the IG’s report, which we suppose means that the FAA’s epic fail on developing a regulatory framework for integrating UAS (drones) into the national airspace is poised to become a big story in the mainstream press:
Despite years of research, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t figured out what kind of technology unmanned aircraft should use to avoid crashing into other planes, or how to prevent lost links with ground control stations, Matthew Hampton, the Transportation Department’s assistant inspector general for aviation, said in a report.
The FAA also hasn’t set standards for certifying the safety of drone designs and manufacture like those that exist for manned aircraft, the report said. Nor has the agency developed standard procedures for air traffic controllers to guide drones, partly because the FAA’s air traffic control equipment wasn’t developed with unmanned aircraft in mind. There is no adequate program for training controllers how to manage drones. And criteria for training “pilots” who remotely control drones from the ground have yet to be developed.
The story includes this laughable excuse:
FAA officials, defending the agency’s record, said in a statement that the FAA “has made significant progress” toward giving drones wider access to U.S. skies “even as it dealt with disruptions” due to automatic, government-wide spending cuts and a three-week partial government shutdown.
That story might hold water if the partial government shutdown had lasted substantially longer than three weeks. Of course, no agency was given more leeway by Congress during the shutdown, and the notion that the sequester had any material impact on the FAA’s ability to develop UAS regulations over a period of years seems like plain nonsense.
Regardless of budget constraints, the FAA has wasted significant resources prosecuting small operators like Raphael Pirker while harassing countless others. It has also found the time and resources to go around lying to the public that it has effectively banned “all” commercial drone activity. These lawless actions amount to nothing more than an effort at distracting the public and the media from the FAA’s failure to do what Congress has mandated.
As we noted yesterday, President Obama needs to start firing people.