Commercial Use of Drones a Mistake
Drones Use Proposal
On Feb. 15, 2015 the FAA announced a new proposal to allow commercial use of drones in public air space. I think this is a very bad idea and I will outline a list of potential problems that may arise. I realize that advances in technology have made this possible and the FAA is just trying to get ahead of the issue. However, in my opinion, the potential for harm outweigh any positive economic benefits.
Whenever a new regulation concerns the public at large, there are always unintended consequences. Murphy's law always find a way to make a showing. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". The private use of drones is one that common sense should rule against. Besides the many obvious reasons, there are numerous scenarios where disaster could be the result. History has taught us to be very weary of technologies that are not "fit" for prime time. The Hindenberg disaster and the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster are just two glaring examples.
My List of Concerns
- Public Safety - Anything flying in our public airspace is prone to failure either due to human error or mechanical failure. If person or private property is injured or hurt by such accidents, who will pay the price? Will our court system be inundated with countless law suits?
- Interference with Commercial Aircraft - Just recently, there were reports from pilots near LAX where drone was spotted near a landing approach. What if a plane is taken down by a drone?
- Effects of local weather unpredictable - As we all experienced, the local weather can change suddenly without warning. Sudden gust of wind can cause drones to drift and crash or go out of control. There is no reason to create an environment where these devices are flying around subjected to these conditions.
- Personal Privacy - We are all concerned about privacy. Why would we create a new means where strangers can view or follow or stalk people in their own home or backyards?
- Environmental Impact - What happens to birds that must share the air space with these new mechanical devices? The rotating blades can do harm to our wildlife.
- Big Brother is watching - In the book "1984", we are shown what happens when our government becomes all seeing and all knowing. Our personal liberties, guaranteed by our Constitution, is under assault on many fronts. A flying drone with a video camera mounted will just erode our freedom further.
- Prone to Hack and Terrorists - These new drones are embedded with computer and contains sophisticated software. It would not be a stretch for hackers to attack them and "take over" control to be used as part of an organized terror attack.
I am just a citizen. I don't have any talent for creative imagination. However, even I can come up with a scenario where mass damage can be created for our cities and citizens. All it takes is people with a will and some technical prowess to execute it. Here is one simple example. I'm sure others with better imagination can come up with many more.
A group of home grown terrorists gathered in a large metropolitan city such as NYC and position themselves around all bridges and tunnels. They can create a mass diversion using simple drones with either dummy warheads or real firecrackers or worse some bio agents. They will coordinate at a fix time say around the peak of rush hour and mount a mass attack. This simple act will bring all traffic to a standstill in and out of Manhattan. Imagine the panic that will be created on Wall Street and lead to a financial meltdown. Meanwhile, the perpetrators that planned the whole attack may be able to profit greatly from this by shorting certain stocks on the NY Stock Exchange. The motives for these attacks can vary. It could be Islamic extremist or home grown. It could be ideological driven or just for greed. It doesn't matter. The damage is done. The point being, by allowing the private use of drones, you have created a scenario where something similar can be put into action. Do we really want to open the Pandora's Box?
Stock Market After 9/11
I don't think drones in commercial or private hands are a good idea. You may argue the issues I identified may happen today regardless of regulation. If someone wants to use a drone for ill, it could happen with or without regulations. Just like with guns, a criminal will get a gun illegally to commit a crime and no gun control laws will help. The key to remember is this. Part of a responsible government is to "provide general welfare" as indicated in our Constitution. We don't want to create an environment where bad things can be easily implemented by criminals with bad intent. Of course these laws and regulations are usually balanced between private rights and public good. In this case, the public good should win over private rights. By making drones illegal, we make it much harder for criminals to use it as a weapon of WMD. It is much easier for security agency to track people that attempt to buy these illegal items. Just as we make it hard for the average person to buy explosives or items that can be made into bombs. If a drone is legal and widely used, imagine how hard it would be to identify the few who may be using it for harm. I'm not saying it would be impossible but much harder. In the end, I vote for keeping drones in the arena of limited recreation such as remote control airplanes as exist today - not for commercial or private usage in public airspace. The only other place drones belong is on the battle field-hunting down terrorists and save American pilots.
Some Latest News...
Check out this news story from the Daily Beast on ISIS and drone plots. Why am I not surprised? Where is the CIA and NSA and FBI on this? Why is the FAA silent?
Some Related Information
FAA Drone Regulations Proposal Feb. 2015
- FAA Unveils Drone Rules: Autonomy Is In, Drone Delivery Is Out - IEEE Spectrum
The proposed rules are surprisingly reasonable, but there are things that need work
- Drone Almost Hits Commercial Jet at 4,000 Feet at LAX | NBC Southern California
A remote controlled drone almost collided with a commercial jet at 4,000 feet as it approached Los Angeles International Airport.
- Drones vulnerable to being hacked, Congress told – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs
By Todd Sperry It wouldn't take much effort to hijack a drone over U.S. airspace and use it to commit a crime or act of terrorism, an aerospace engineering expert told a House subcommittee Wednesday.
- Burglars use drone helicopters to target homes - Telegraph
Police warn thieves are piloting the mini-helicopters carry out surveillance on homes to burgle
- Drone hits person at Albuquerque festival | KRQE News 13
Albuquerque’s source for local news and live streaming video online. KRQE reports on news, weather, traffic, investigations and sports for New Mexico.