Airspace: How High Do Your Ownership Rights Go?

Ever since the FAA authorized drones to be used for spraying crops, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this topic. While people around the country are trying their best to grapple with the rising privacy and safety concerns of drones, one matter is simply going unaddressed: who owns the airspace above our homes?

Airspace: How High Do Your Ownership Rights Go?

There has been thousands of complaints received about drones that are flying over homes, crime scenes and crowds. There are at least seventeen states which have passed laws restricting law enforcement agencies and citizens from using the drones in a heavy-handed way. And even though federal regulators claim they are the only ones regulating U.S. skies, the fact of the matter remains that there are a few cities that are banning the use of drones altogether, like Austin, Texas and St. Bonifacius, Minnesota.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies Have No Authority To Control Airspace

As far as local law enforcement is concerned, they say that they don’t have the authority or the means to deal with this problem at all. They have never been asked to control airspace before, and while they may be experts at handling problems on the ground, managing airspace is an entirely different affair altogether.

There has been very little attention given to airspace over the last few decades. It was way back in 1930 when planes were banned from flying below five hundred feet. This left the lower altitudes for birds, model planes, kites and helicopters to flight over.

It is only recently that technology advances have made it so much easier to make remote-controlled aircrafts. They have also become much easier to fly and are far more powerful than their predecessors. You can easily find drones for sale online or at local shopping centers. There are thousands of these drones in the sky today, and this figure is only going to increase with time and the federal rules proposals for commercial drones is only going to make things easier.

Do FAA Rules Address Private Individuals?

Most of the FAA rules do not address private individuals, which is where all the problems begin. How do you prevent an individual from using a drone to spy into their neighbor’s house? They may even fly them into planes if they go unregulated. The FAA has banned drones from being flown anywhere near manned aircrafts and airports, but there isn’t much else that they can do. And they admit that it’s pretty much impossible to rely on local law enforcement agencies to regulate drone flights.

Local officials are trying their best to regulate things though. Apart from the seventeen states that have already passed laws, there are another twenty nine that are considering doing it. But with every state taking the matter up independently there is no real solution to this problem. Some states are banning drones from filming without permission, while others are banning them from interfering with hunters. However, there is no common law to follow. This has forced certain towns and cities to completely ban drones altogether.

As per the FAA, the introduction of drones has caused a lot of confusion as far as navigable airspace is concerned. But they insist that their authority has now been increased, and as long as drones aren’t endangering anyone they can hover above any private property legally. Arrests are being made all over the country based on complaints received, and the FAA better step up to set some nationwide ground rules. Until then, this matter is destined to remain a controversy with every state coming up with their own laws and trying to prove themselves right.

FAA Approves The Use of Drones For Farming Purposes

With the number of inventions and innovations over the last few years, you may think that we will eventually run of ideas, but every now and then something new comes along and changes everything. While many people are still against the best drones being given the green light to be used commercially, what most people are failing to see is the immense potential of these handy little machines. Let’s take a look at a few ways in which drones can really make a difference to our country.

FAA Approves The Use of Drones For Farming Purposes

First of all, people need to understand that the days where drones were only used to hunt terrorists are long gone. And one industry which is going to gain the most from this, is the food industry. No, I’m not talking about McDonald’s, I’m talking about growing food in farms. But while the government has already been using drones to monitor what businesses and corporations are doing, it’s about time that farmers were allowed to do the same as well. No, they don’t need to monitor what others are doing, but they can at least monitor their own crops.

Drone Approved For Crop Dusting Duties

With that being said, a drone has finally been approved by the FAA to begin crop dusting duties in California. These little drones may look like toys, but they are really excellent, high-tech tools that are the first to be approved in the United States. These drones have undergone rigorous testing and the advent of them is going to give agriculture a major boost in years to come.

Have you ever heard of the Yamaha R-MAX unmanned vehicle? If not, then you are definitely going to hear of this wonder in the weeks to come. As per Professor Ken Giles of UC Davis, this device comes with tanks that can hold supplements, pesticides, and fly above various crops, spraying them with little cost involved. The device was originally meant to help with rice farms in Asia and has proven quite successful in Japan. As opposed to regular spray systems that can cover an acre of land in half an hour, this device will easily cover 3 or 4 acres in the same period of time. This drone weighs just 207 pounds and has been the center of attention ever since it was given the go ahead a few weeks ago.

The Pros of Using Drones For Farming Purposes

Even though none of these farming drones have officially gone on sale yet, it is most likely that big corporations are going to buy up most of the drones and rent them out to farmers. There have been smaller drones already approved in the past to help farmers by clicking pictures of any unhealthy crops in their field. But the R-MAX is the first drone which is big enough to carry a payload. And the biggest advantage of using drones has got to be the simple fact that pilots will no longer be required to fly low and slow while crop dusting fields, which is a very dangerous maneuver.

In my personal opinion, using UAV’s for crop dusting makes excellent sense. It will not only allow you to ensure every inch of your crops is sprayed, but it will also allow you to determine how much chemical you want to use and where. This will help you cut down on costs as well, since you won’t waste chemicals where they aren’t required. Plus, if there is any particular part of your farm that needs special attention, these drones will allow you to focus on them without wasting precious resources. With the help of GPS software and mapping, farmers can even track their drones from the comfort of their homes. They could also install special sensors for detecting increased levels of fungus growth, root rot, insect activity, etc.

Is this the next billion dollar industry? I certainly think so.

FAA Introduces a Program to Test Drones Flying Outside a Pilot’s Line of Sight

FAA has partnered with CNN and BNSF Railroad to explore the challenges of utilizing drones beyond the visual line-of-sight in isolated areas, as part of the Pathfinder Program. The data received from these tests could result in FAA approval of drones flying outside the pilot’s line of sight in the next few years.

FAA Introduces a Program to Test Drones Flying Outside a Pilot's Line of Sight

Other than being used for photography or recreational purposes, drones have many other purposes, some of which include; search and rescue operations, delivery services, precision farming operations and more.

FAA’s Concern: Drones Flying Beyond The Line of Sight

However, in order to fully harness their potential and help drones reshape our world, manufacturers will have to come up with a couple of ways to ensure that these unmanned devices can safely fly outside of the pilot’s line of sight. Back in February, the Federal Aviation Administration released their proposed rules for flying drones, stating that pilots will have to keep an eye on their devices at all times, thus making the drone market and many others in the industry quite unhappy.

The latest developments indicate that things aren’t so bad after all, as the FAA just stated that they will now be starting out their Pathfinder Program, which is basically a way of saying that they will begin working with manufacturers on granting drone pilots the possibility to go ahead and do extended, outside the line-of-sight operations. This pretty much is the next step in unmanned aerial vehicle operations, and exactly what the industry needs at this moment in time.

FAA Will Test The Efficiency of Flying Drones Beyond The Line of Sight

To start things off, the FAA will lead a couple of farming and railroad operations, where drones will be used to prove how farmers can operate more efficiently when using them and how they inspect rail infrastructure beyond the line of sight. Together with this, chances are that some more experimentation will also take place, as drones also have the great potential in assisting with disaster examination, and also in aiding the authorities in the case of natural disasters.

FAA Pathfinder Program

An FAA spokesperson has stated that the exact timelines and geographic areas for the program have not been decided yet, but they will be determined shortly. This means the program is just about to start operating, and making the idea of using drones outside of the line-of-sight a reality.

These developments also play an important role when it comes down to shining a light on the drone market, as regulators from all around the world are now grappling with how to put the technology to good use, while also granting people more freedom when it comes down to flying their drones. Since the regulations were not permissive previously, companies such as Amazon and Google went ahead and took their drone tests overseas, because they did not want to use FAA’s sites for their drone testing. In the case that more liberal regulation will be imposed, then chances are that tech companies like these two (and many other firms as well) will start experimenting with drones in the United States, while also bringing in new developments quicker.

The fact the FAA is now concerned with a way of making piloting a drone when you cannot see it safer, is great news, as it shows that the government and other authorities are slowly getting used to the idea of drones, their benefits, and are also imposing regulation that is more lenient, hence allowing the overall drone market to thrive.

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