UAV Commercial Use for Ag Stalled Due to Onerous FAA Regulation

UAV Commercial Use for Ag Stalled Due to Onerous FAA Regulation

Yesterday we began a conversation with Idaho precision-ag farmer Robert Blair about the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs in agriculture. Today we will learn more about the challenges of expanding UAVs into commercial use in agriculture.

Blair explains globally that UAVs are currently used in agriculture commercially and that the U.S. is way behind due to governmental red tape.

More than five years ago, Blair obtained a bi-cameral, bi-partisan Congressional letter of support for allowing agriculture a place at the table in the discussions of UAV commercial use rule-making however FAA ignored it.

Blair: “When we look at UAVs, the FAA has had more than enough time to come up with rules. They’ve had over 30 years to develop rules. This technology has been out even longer than that. They are not forward thinking in order to say -- hey we will have a commercial UAV industry. The thought is that there will be rules by 2015. They should have been out this year but it got pushed back again.”

Even though Blair’s UAV is four feet long, has a six feet wing span and weighs about 4 pounds the FAA treats that UAV the same as a commercial plane when it comes to regulations. Blair shares more details.

Blair: “For me to fly that under the FAA guidelines, I need a full-blown pilot’s license with instrument rating. I would have to obtain and pass a physical. Because it is not large enough to put a IN number on the tail, I would have to be a full size aircraft following it.”


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