The US congress in 2012 mandated that the Federal Aviation Administration have regulations in place for how to integrate drones into US airspace by Sept. 30, 2015. It’s now October, and no such regulations are on the books. But the FAA expects over one million drones will be sold as Christmas presents this holiday season.
Whether that number is accurate or not, it’s interesting that the FAA is forecasting how many drones are soon going to be in the hands of Americans, but has yet to mandate how they can actually use them. The FAA put out its proposed regulations in February, but hasn’t yet voted on or approved its its own rules. Under the proposals, drone operators would have to fly lower than 500 feet, keep the drone in sight at all times, and not fly over the general public.
The FAA hasn’t given a specific timeframe for when it will have its regulations in place, but has suggested it will be in the next year. Since the proposals were announced, there have been countless incidents of people doing dumb things with drones, like flying too close to airplanes, crashing them into the US Open, and disrupting firefighters trying to put out forest fires.
And that trend of doing dumb things with drones is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Some of the drones that end up as Christmas presents will likely be given to children, or others who might not be so aware of how they should be using their new toys. It’s worrying to think of the potential havoc hundreds of thousands of kids could wind up doing on Christmas morning with the new flying lawnmowers their parents gave them.