We're not sure anyone's listening, but the reckless behavior of a few drone operators should have made lawmakers and the FAA shake a leg by now.
But until the guys with their tech toys are brought under control, we can expect more close calls and near misses. Until Washington acts, the technology is outpacing the rules that should govern its use.
In general, drone misadventures are happening in a regulatory vacuum. The FAA has banned most commercial drone flights until it can finalize new safety rules — a step that will take at least another year.
But people who fly drones for fun aren’t regulated. Under a law passed in 2012 that was designed in part to protect model-airplane enthusiasts, the FAA cannot impose new restrictions on recreational drone owners. As a result, they are not required to obtain licenses, register their aircraft or undergo training. . . .
To protect regular air traffic, the FAA has issued guidelines requiring that consumer drones stay at least five miles away from airports and below an altitude of 400 feet.
Those standards are widely flouted, however; in the past month alone, airline pilots have reported close calls with drones near airports in New York, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Phoenix.