White House Drone

Associations Refresh Regulatory Push After White House Drone Incident

While the optics of a drone crashing near the White House didn't exactly look all that great for the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, groups say it's simply more evidence that the FAA needs to take action on the issue.

While a drone crash on the White House grounds didn’t exactly create great optics for the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, groups say the incident just provides more evidence that the FAA needs to act soon to issue drone regulations.

“There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife. But we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.”

President Barack Obama gave this verbal black eye to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sector on Tuesday, though he had a good reason for it: Someone had crashed a remote-controlled copter onto the White House lawn Monday morning, apparently accidentally.

The timing isn’t great for the drone industry, which is currently holding its breath while awaiting regulatory guidance from the FAA on when the devices can formally enter U.S. airspace. The FAA has reportedly refused to offer a firm date on when such standards will be set.

After the White House incident, industry groups are working overtime to point out that it shouldn’t reflect negatively on the technology as a whole.

“Technology is never the perpetrator. Technology is utilized by those, sometimes, for ill purposes,” Small UAV Coalition Executive Director Michael Drobac told The Wall Street Journal. “And in this case, I think that’s what happened. I don’t think you blame the technology, you blame the people that abused it.”

Meanwhile, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) saw the bright side of Obama’s comments.

“The president’s comments echo what we have been saying: The FAA needs to move forward with the rulemaking process immediately to allow industries from agriculture to oil and gas to realize the benefits of this technology,” AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne said in a statement. “Also, this industry has the potential to create more than 70,000 jobs and $13.6 billion in economic impact in just the first three years after integration is complete. Until the FAA develops regulations for this technology, this industry and its commercial and economic benefits will remain grounded.”

The drone that flew near the White House this week. (Handout photo/US Secret Service)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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