FAA study shows cities and counties want to set and enforce their own drone rules

US local government officials would like to be able to set local restrictions as needed and, along with law enforcement colleagues, they expect to be responsible to enforce drone rules and handle drone related problems in their cities and counties. No specific altitude proposed; 50 feet, 100 feet, 200 feet all mentioned. They do not believe the Federal Aviation Administration is able to provide enforcement resources. These are just two of the findings of an FAA study U.S. Mayors and County Officials: Drone Discussion Groups (https://www.rtca.org/sites/default/files/dac_ebook_final_novmtg_-_version_2.pdf).

The study was carried out by Stanford University and MITRE at the request of members of the RTCA Drone Advisory Committee, with the aim to solicit broad feedback from local government officials about their views on what role, if any, local governments for regulating drone activities. Here are some of the major findings:

  • Mayors and County Officials want to participate in the process as rules for drones are developed and evolve, not just at the end
  • These groups have significant safety concerns about drones interfering with first responders; privacy; the difficulty of catching errant drone operators; how to tell good guy from bad guy operator; liability concerns if local drone laws are passed and bad things happen or if local government operates drones for public use and bad things happen; how to manage drones being operated and registered by children.
  • Local officials are enthusiastic about expected benefits of commercial drones and the financial growth potential for local jobs, businesses, taxes
  • County Officials are more focused on: positive aspects of drone uses and benefits but have concerns about overregulation (national, state, and local)
  • Mayors more focused on: safety, security, and privacy; firefighting operations suspended because of unknown drones, popular events affected by unknown drones and concerns about state governments overriding local jurisdictions.
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