One of Donald Trump’s promises during his campaign was to privatize air traffic management. Consequently, this would result in several implications on drone usage within U.S. airspace. Governments are still exploring and developing the best way to deal with drone regulations, with big efforts being made to create a national drone air traffic control system capable of real-time reporting, tracking and managing of flights. Trump wants to replace the current Federal Aviation Administration-run system by establishing a private non-profit organization which will regulate the national airspace for drone flying. One of society’s biggest concerns, regarding drones, is the possibility of aircraft collisions and drones breaching restricted airspace. Since drones to not need a designated area to take off and land; they can do it from practically anywhere, this increases concerns.
The current U.S. law allows a drone to be flown within an operator’s line of sight, but for drone delivery to be used nationwide, affordable drones will require a shared flight tracking system. This will allow people to monitor drone’s locations, thus avoiding collisions and private airspace breaching. NASA and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have already been developing a solution for national drone tracking which would debut in 2019. However, a Trump presidency may stop this from happening, handing over this task to a private company.
Some big companies, such as Amazon, have already began experimenting with drone delivery. However, due to FAA’s delay in solving these issues, the American company moved their testing operations to Europe, in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, companies like Amazon and Google may favor a drone airspace privatization by Trump’s Administration. A privatized drone management may result in a faster rollout.
AirMap, a private company that dominates the drone mapping space, whose tracking, mapping and geofencing software is used in roughly 80% percent of commercial and consumer drones worldwide, including drones from the most renowned companies such as DJI, Intel, 3DR and others, as well as nearly every major airport in the U.S. Their drone technology is used on a screen side by side with the national air traffic control system. The goal of FAA and NASA, or a non-profit organization established by Trump’s Administration would work on integrating these two systems. Thus, resulting in a more efficient control system and perhaps even more cost-effective.
Both the United Kingdom and Canada monitor and manage their national airspace traffic control through private corporations. However, Delta corporation, a major carrier opposed to air traffic management privatization, affirms that costs have gone up in the United Kingdom and Canada since the privatization. Delta also says that the public system in the United States is the safest and busiest air traffic control management in the world. Since we are just entering the drone era, governments and corporations are still trying to figure out what the best practices and laws will be. Regulating air traffic is a delicate task, specially right now that national safety is one of biggest topics being discussed in the media.
Until now the current Senate has already rejected many attempts to private air traffic control, but with a President Trump this might change, for better or worse. Trump plans to replace in 2018 the current head of FAA, Michael Huerta, with Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor during Bush’s presidency.
President-elect Donald Trump will take office on 20th January of 2017 and already affirmed that he plans to “invest $550 billion to ensure we can export our goods and move our people faster and safer,” a part of this big investment might be aimed at drone delivery and drone air traffic privatization.
What is your opinion regarding this issue? Will a Trump Presidency be better or worse for the drone delivery sector? Will companies such as Amazon restart their tests on U.S. soil? Let us know in the comment section below.
Guest Post by Julio Ventura – DronesWorld.NET