The FAA is taking too long to draft its rules for unmanned aircraft systems, and should go ahead and allow some limited UAS operations, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said this week. In areas such as around powerlines or pipelines and above rural farms, UAS operations could commence with little risk to manned aircraft or people on the ground, AUVSI said. “Each day that integration is delayed will lead to $27 million in lost economic impact,” said AUVSI president Michael Toscano. The FAA has been working on the rules since 2009, and the latest target date of this November is almost four years behind schedule. Also this week, a federally operated $12 million drone was lost when it ditched in the Pacific.
The unarmed Predator B drone, operated by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, was being used by the crew of a Navy ship to test radar tracking gear near the south coast of California. The aircraft had a mechanical failure, according to CNN. The crew put the aircraft down in the ocean after determining that it couldn’t make it back to the base in Arizona. So far, the cause of the failure is unknown, and the other nine drones operated by CPB have been grounded. The NTSB is investigating.