The mysterious drone sightings that captured national attention were a classic case of mass hysteria.
Most of the widely publicized “drone sightings” and even “drone collisions” turned out not to be real. But these fake news reports served two purposes:
- They created mass hysteria that resulted in more people reporting seeing “drones”. Years ago, we had “UFO sightings”. Today, every light in the night sky is a “drone” and every plastic bag blowing in the wind is a “drone”.
- These false reports, hyped to an extreme, result in calls for more regulation.
Read on to learn about how the FAA may have helped generate hysteria in order to get Congressional permission to over regulate, and potentially shut down R/C model aviation in the United States.
This week, the FCC apparently rejected the AMA’s request for an extended comment filing period, and in their rejection letter hint they want to roll out this rule making as fast as possible, potentially intending to ignore public input.
Years ago the FAA released reports of received “drone sightings”. that were widely summarized by the media. The reports made it sound as if there were billions of drones everywhere and it was sheer luck we hadn’t had major disasters. Of course, years later, we still have not had any major disasters; indeed, drones have killed zero people Ever.
The FAA’s drone reports were exaggerated and included sightings having nothing to do with aviation, and bizarre reports of sightings at 25,000 feet (know any consumer quadcopters that fly that high?)
The FAA, releasing unverified and sometimes nonsensical reports was intentionally generating mass hysteria to get permission to over regulate model aircraft.
The FAA’s mission was successful. By late 2018, Congress removed “Section 336” from the law authorizing FAA funding; this section previously restricted the FAA from over regulating model aircraft. Once this law was removed, the FAA has gone over the top, viewing all small model aircraft as tools of terrorists.
I heard, from a second hand source but naming an FAA employee (who is also an R/C model enthusiast) saying these rules are likely to end most R/C model aviation in the United States.
This has always been the goal of the FAA, which hyped up drone sighting reports and then dropped a bomb on the recreational community on December 26th, 2019, which without warning unleashed a proposed draconian rule making for flying recreational small UAS. The FAA has worked diligently to avoid the public’s input as much as it can.
Without preparing the public for what was coming, the FAA dropped a 319 page, complex rule making proposal, with thousands of pages of supporting documents – and opened a 60 day public comment window. The proposed rules have dramatic impacts and costs on the general public, most of whom will see no benefits. The “public” does not have a staff of employees available to read, analyze, and document issues with the NPRM. In situations like this, many agencies extend the comment period to give the public adequate time for feedback.
The FAA, however, rejected the AMA’s request for an extension, writing, “Accordingly, the FAA has determined that any extension of the comment period, and the subsequent delays in promulgation of the final rule implementing remote identification of UAS, would not be consistent with safety and security objectives of the proposed rule”.
Translation – we do not have time to receive public input – in fact, we do not want to get public input. There is concern that the FAA intends to ignore public input entirely. If they review comments, they might only read comments from corporations and recognized organizations (as the FCC ended up doing on net neutrality).
I have not verified the authenticity of this letter, below, from the FAA to the AMA, which has been widely shared.