Creating rules for drones

All sorts of possibilities for using unmanned drone aircraft have been proposed recently, although not all the ideas are necessarily good ones. But a lack of action by the Federal Aviation Administration is creating odd situations.

The FAA has decreed that there is to be no use of drones for commercial purposes, mostly because the agency has yet to seriously address the many issues associated with regulating drones for commercial purposes.

You can buy one of the small aircraft for your own personal use, perhaps to inspect the shingles on your roof. But if you set up a business to do the same thing elsewhere in your neighborhood, for a price, you may run afoul of the FAA. Some people already have. As The Associated Press reported, the Washington Nationals baseball team had used a drone to take publicity pictures of players on its spring training field in Florida. The little craft never left the confines of the field. Yet once the FAA became aware, the Nationals’ drone was grounded.

But the FAA has not yet developed rules for commercial use of drones in the United States. Though drones have been around for years, it took action by Congress in 2012 to require the agency to develop the rules. They are to be phased in, perhaps beginning within a year. We’re not saying we would support drone usage for every task proposed, but there are some potential drone uses that certainly merit further discussion, which is tough to do because the FAA has dragged its feet on developing rules for them.