AS/FAA The “Tombstone Mentality”: Back to the Future

The 24 hour news cycle has picked up and been running with the drone that came within a few hundred feet of a Delta aircraft on approach to JFK in New York.  Let’s hope that this story doesn’t lose its visibility and that the FAA is listening.

Now, let’s be clear, Plane-ly Spoken applauds the FAA for not creating insurmountable barriers to the operation of UAS/drones in this country.  They have moved slowly, some say too slowly, but we prefer to view it as moving methodically, never losing sight of aviation safety as the single most important consideration.

The problem with all of the foregoing is the continuing activities of those individuals who don’t care, either because they’re arrogant and thumb their nose at aviation safety, they’re ignorant and don’t know there are rules, or they just don’t understand the rules.

The FAA has refrained from aggressive enforcement, something Plane-ly Spoken has criticized, [Link]  and instead opted for education.  FAA!  Listen up!  It’s not working!  You have indicated there are two drone encounters with aircraft every day.  Sixty a month!  Over 700 a year!  All you need is for one of those encounters to turn into a collision and we’re very possibly talking about having this discussion around a smoking hole in the ground.

Years ago, the FAA was criticized for having a “tombstone mentality.”  What this meant was that until people died, the FAA would not take action.

Over the years, the FAA has become highly proactive on safety, accounting for the unprecedented level of safety of the aviation industry in the United States.  We are the gold standard for the world.

Plane-ly Spoken suggests it’s time to add aggressive enforcement to education and stop assuming everyone wants to or will do the right thing.  Clearly they don’t and they’re not!  Let’s start by doing anything and everything that can be done to identify the rogue operators and then throw the book at them.  The best tool to educate and deter those who don’t care is civil and criminal prosecution.

The “tombstone mentality” should remain a thing of the past and not be allowed to overshadow all the good work the FAA has done to encourage growth of the UAS industry.  Let’s not allow a few to spoil it for all the responsible people and companies who will propel the UAS industry to reach its full potential.

(Originally posted August 5, 2015)

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