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archived pdf - Govern America
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SALUTE OUR MILITARY HEROES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
HOME \ CULTURE \ TECHNOLOGY
FAA fears drones left under Christmas tree
could prove hazardous in the skies
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By Ben Wolfgang - The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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By Christmas afternoon, thousands more drones will be in American skies — but the
federal government fears operators of the increasingly small, cheap craft simply
don’t know what they’re doing and could cause aerial catastrophes.
The Federal Aviation Administration joined with drone industry groups and others
this week to launch a safety initiative aimed at unmanned aerial systems, which have
become one of the hottest holiday gifts this season, according to companies such as
Amazon and Best Buy.
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Once identified only as huge, multimillion-dollar military weapons, drones also have
become 21st-century toys, some of which cost as little as $20.
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The low cost and relatively simple operation make drones appealing gifts for tech
junkies, teenagers and others.
“Over the next five days or so, you’re going to have tens of thousands of 10-year-old
to 90-year-old people that are going to have this capability, being exposed to it. And
we want to make sure they understand how to use it in a safe and responsible way,”
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we want to make sure they understand how to use it in a safe and responsible way,”
said Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle
Systems International, the drone industry’s largest trade group.
The association, the FAA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and other organizations
this week launched the website KnowBeforeYouFly.com, which contains information
on federal regulations and safety guidelines for operating the craft.
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It is against FAA guidelines, for example, to fly a drone higher than 400 feet or within
5 miles of an airport.
The campaign also wants drone manufacturers to provide safety information and
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“There are rogue actors out there, or there are some not aware of existing laws and
rules, so a campaign like this is absolutely crucial,” said Michael Drobac, executive
director of the Small UAV Coalition, a drone advocacy group.
Although it’s difficult to tell just how many drones will be under Christmas trees this
year, anecdotal accounts suggest the craft are popular.
Best Buy, crediting rising demand, said it expanded its drone selection from one
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model last year to eight this year.
Amazon reported that a number of drone models — ranging in price from about
$160 to more than $1,000 — have been especially popular this year, according to The
Associated Press.
Those accounts are proof, industry leaders say, that drones have officially gone
mainstream.
Demand has moved “pretty dramatically out of being a pretty niche field into more
of a consumer electronics field,” Michael Perry, spokesman for drone manufacturer
DJI, told AP.
Worldwide, drone spending is projected to double over the next decade from $6.4
billion annually to $11.5 billion each year, according to research firm the Teal Group.
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Copyright © 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Wolfgang
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in
Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at [email protected]
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