FAA rule changes may deter hobbyists
Guest Post: by John Goglia
No, this isn’t an article about rogue drones or what we have to fear from drones in the hands of novice fliers. Far from it. This is about how the FAA’s
new drone rules—a real boon for commercial operations—have quite the opposite potential effect on hobbyists (particularly students) and on teachers.
The FAA has determined they are “commercial” operators in all but the most limited circumstances. The FAA has underplayed this potential impact, including posting misleading information on its UAS websites. I strongly believe in the importance of educational and hobby flying
with minimum unnecessary government bureaucracy, especially in school and after-school programs where students in elementary and high school should be able to learn to build, fly and even race model aircraft without the need to comply with FAA rules meant for commercial operators. So while FAA websites continue to tout the hobby/educational and non-hobby distinction[or fun vs. work as the FAA’s chart
) puts it], the new rules do not, in fact, make that neat distinction anymore. But more about the rules in a moment.
First, why should aviation employers even care about the barriers to hobby and educational flying erected by the FAA’s new rules? Well, we all know of the looming shortages in aviation personnel. Boeing’s most recent forecast doesn’t mince words: “As global economies expand and airlines take delivery of tens of thousands of new jetliners over the next 20 years, there is extraordinary demand for people to fly and maintain these airplanes.” The 2016 report predicts that:
“between now and 2035, the aviation industry will need to supply more than two million new aviation personnel—617,000 airline pilots, 679,000 maintenance technicians and 814,000 cabin crew.”
For North America, the numbers for this period are 112,000 new pilots, 118,000 new maintenance technicians and 169,000 new cabin crew. The report specifically acknowledges the importance of educational outreach to inspire the next generation of aviation workers.
The personnel shortages really aren’t “looming” any longer. Aviation employers across the country are already experiencing difficulties. That will continue unless dramatic steps are taken to expand the pipeline of students interested in aviation careers.
The challenge for all of us who care about the future of aviation is how to do that educational outreach, how to get young people excited about aviation careers. For me, as for many of you, model aircraft were our first personal experiences with flying. As a young boy growing up near Logan Airport—before any fences surrounded the field—I spent many hours watching airplanes take off and land. But watching airplanes fly was not as much fun as actually making them fly. And that was what led me to building and flying model airplanes—until I was old enough to fly a real airplane myself. These early experiences with flight, I’m certain, fed my life-long fascination with aviation and fueled my desire to make aviation my career. I’m not alone here; I know so many pilots and mechanics who trace their love of aviation to their early days building and flying models.
To check out rules that may affect drone hobbyists please click here.
Please leave a comment on your thoughts about this article and then share by clicking on the share icons on the left side of the page!