Aircraft Accidents and Misinformation

One constant that prevails in any investigation or news story is the need for transparency, or the lack thereof. I recently had issue with the WSJ’s Op-Ed department to the point of cancelling my subscription; I feel they’re refusing to print any unmanned aerial vehicle opinions divergent to the pro-UAV stance; I see no proof to the contrary.
What does this have to do with Aircraft Accidents? Allow me to explain.
The WSJ published articles blaming the FAA for dragging its feet in approving UAV regulations. They published Op-Eds from entrepreneurs in the UAV industry, again, slamming the FAA for ‘hobbling’ UAV businesses. A recent Forbes article criticized the FAA for wasting time and resources on UAV company videos, which it may have been viewing to determine if there were any safety violations. On the surface, these articles seem to be trying to promote the UAV industry’s side, shining a light on what it believes is an arrogant bureaucracy.
Instead what these contributors are doing is what most people do when they have no argument: they bang the table. The UAV (or UAS) industry is not being hampered by the FAA; until the UAV industry understands the problems they face, their future likely will continue to be mired in postponements. Acceptance of UAV rules must be approved by more influential entities through the Notices of Proposed Rulemaking system. Entities, e.g. the Airline Pilots Association, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, et al, consider UAVs a danger to the aviation community. Why? Because of the rash of irresponsible behavior on the part of many UAV operators that threatens aviation safety and causes …
Aircraft Accidents.
And it seems they have just cause for concern. An irresponsible UAV operator landed a UAV on the White House lawn; numerous reports have been filed of UAVs being flown close to airliners near major airports, e.g. LaGuardia, JFK, etc. On March 16, 2015, KIRO-TV in Seattle reported a UAV operator in Spanaway, WA, flew his UAV over a television helicopter, the whole event caught on tape by its sister report helicopter; I watched the video. You can bet FAA inspectors and the local police watched it too. The videoing helicopter managed to track the errant UAV down to its operator and back to his house.
The danger posed by flying a UAV over the helicopter’s main rotor cannot be emphasized enough. If contacted, the toy – flying at 1500 feet, 1100 feet higher than allowed – would have caused a catastrophic failure of the rotor resulting in the deaths of the pilot, his cameraman, and anyone unfortunate enough to have been below the helicopter when it crashed on them. Furthermore, it was over a residential neighborhood at the time.
The UAV industry has an enemy; an entity that is standing in its way of progress. As Walt Kelly’s character, Pogo once opined, “We have met the enemy, and he is us;” that enemy is its own self, the few irresponsible members of the UAV industry. They must police their own or this community will never be accepted as a serious business dedicated to safety. By not maintaining a professional following, they can blame the FAA, ALPA, NATCA, etc. all they want, they will continue to be dismissed as negligent, all for the sins of a few. I’m a conservative; I believe in entrepreneurship; and I believe government should not stand in the way of progress. That being said, in my opinion, the WSJ and other news organizations are crippling the UAV industry by avoiding honest feedback to their customers.
I can’t be more transparent than that.

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