Do FAA Rules Hurt Your Small Drone Business?

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Do FAA Rules Hurt Your Small Drone Business?

Confused by the FAA’s small drone regulations? Feeling choked as a business?

As you know, the FAA declares they govern *all* airspace, even the 400 feet above ground in which you fly everything from a paper airplane to a kite to a remote-controlled kit-built airplane and, yes, your multirotor drone. But FAA regulations are being challenged, as I discussed here.

Given that, I’d like to take the pulse of drone business owners like yourself to assess and quantify the impact of FAA regulations on commercial use of low-altitude small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). So I’ve posted a survey. If you’d like to speak your mind about this topic and have others listen without fear of recrimination, you’ve come to the right place.

You can access the survey (which is just 15 questions) online via this link:

What’s this survey about?

This survey explores the impact that current and future FAA regulations have on commercial use of low-altitude small unmanned aerial systems. The study is designed to expose both business sentiment about- and the economic impact of- FAA regulations.

I’ll keep results of the survey confidential and have designed it for those businesses that sell, operate, or intend to operate, their sUAS in the U.S. for commercial purposes. At the end of survey, responses will be aggregated, analyzed, and summarized in research reports to be issued within the next several months.

What’s in it for you?

If you provide your contact information at the end of the survey, I’ll send you a free report. A complete downloadable version will come later.

For best results we need as many respondents as possible, so I encourage every business involved in the sUAS market – whether established company or start-up – to take the survey.

For all surveys – including this one -there are no right or wrong answers. News agencies, companies, and research firms around the world rely on businesses and consumers like you to give them feedback on the latest trends, consumer sentiment, regulations, and products and services. If agencies created regulations and companies created products and services without consumer feedback, there would be a lot of failed products, wasted money, and failed businesses.

That is why they engage with companies like Drone Analyst to seek input from real consumers like you. We take your one opinion and combine it with hundreds of other opinions to create aggregate data. That data goes into research reports that help them create better regulations and products. Aggregate data is valuable in providing feedback to all parties – including you and your business. Your individual answers are confidential and are not shared in reports. Respondents who want to assure their anonymity further need not provide their contact information.

How to take surveys

Take the time to read each question carefully and provide sincere and truthful answers– your input is key to decision-making. Remember: Your answers are private. Any attempt to speed though the surveys, take a survey more than once or provide false or misleading information will result in bad data and unreliable conclusions.

And, if you have questions and would like to discuss one-on-one, email me at

Image credit: Shutterstock

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  1. John MacDonald March 26, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Colin, Your survey starts by referring to current and possible future regulations by the FAA.
    Ther are no regulations currently, and as long as FAA keep annoying Congress by claiming powers that they do not possess, (and getting reprimanded for it), wasting tax payers money on lawyers happy to take that money whilst well aware that the cases they are pursuing are unwinnable since in opposition to the law of the land, they will not get such powers. Some of their actions border on either delusions of grandeur, or just total incompetence in understanding their brief and limitations; they claim the power to to issue a license for drone operation over the Arctic?
    That is obtaining money by fraud, at the very least. Add to that sort of thing the number of small businesses they have put out of business at great cost by threatening with actions they cannot actually take, and continual statements about their powers; even the Mafia are better advised, and much more competent at taking other peoples turf! Finally and this may annoy you, it may well be that your survey is actually intended to result in a detailed list of people the FAA will find vey useful if they do ever get legislative backing.

    • Colin Snow March 26, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Hi John. Thanks for your comments. I have a commercial aerial photography business myself and understand your concern. The survey data is confidential and secure. Aggregate data is valuable in providing feedback to all parties. Respondents who want to assure anonymity need not provide their contact information. I will make that clear. Thanks – Colin

  2. Craig Newhouse April 2, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    Thanks for making this very helpful and easy-to-complete survey available! I and many others appreciate these helpful efforts, and look forward to clear and reasonable “rules & regs” in the future that are formed by the results of surveys like this one.

  3. […] just released the findings of my two-month survey studying the impact of FAA rules on small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in the U.S. Among the many […]

  4. Daniel May 4, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I believe most people committed to conbating current FAA regulations or any of their authority assertions are completely missing a vital and landscape rearranging fact. Pathways to commercial operation have always existed via COAs or waivers. Of course these were issued initially to defense manufacturers, often in concert with academic assocuation. Subsequently law enforcement and civil options were granted. Since 12/30/2013 the authority to permit commercial operations exists under the six test centers. In other words, gatekeeper honor and roll out stewardship was relegated to these sites. They now control who and for what reason commercial operations may legally occur, not the FAA. The FAA can of course accept a commercial COA application, but won’t grant it as the process for domestic market emergence is already granted to the test centers. Perhaps more test centers will soon be opened or permitted to privately operate with the same umbrella granting as the original six.

    Regardless, a path to active commercial use exist. The problem is being locked out by the third party subcontractors the test centers use to mitigate contingent liability exposure and facilitate need for surge workers where no academic path or department yet exists to guide them. In Texas this company is Camber Corooration.

    I am actively engaged building a citizen initiated USA business dedicated to commercial, non weaponized and non security based market niches. sUAS market emergence is widely believed to occur by progressive niche market occupation through locally founded and owned new job creating opportunities. Of course, this predicts eventual conflict with existing titan interests obligated to pursue via all legal means preservation of their profits and markets. It is giant players with billions of yearly revenue.

    The rules and laws for test center operations are basically unwritten. Overlapping State and Federal interests and authority exists. The role of academics is not simply to foster safe detect and avoid technology. For Christmas sake an 8000 dollar transponder exists separately powered and fixed wing, single rotor, multi rotary and marine interoperability is already available off the shelf.

    What does not exist is the complex systems interfacing appropriate security interests, technological possibilities and interoperability standards. AUVSI was supposed to facilitate championing such things but thus far appears largely like a thug money changer than a wise steward. In fact, without private invitation from the test center to attend one of their even more private facilitated conferences on use no meaningful new business opportunity exists.

    It’s not the FAA, it’s the buying and selling of market opportunity is now occurring without oversight. No new business entity can engage in honest dialog with test centers when rampant key person poaching occurs, preferential RCIC adoption and application for millions of TETF funds and orchestrated circumvention from federal law and FAA agreements is occurring…regardless if how such a state arrived.

    The focus now is the test centers and not the FFA. FFA fighters arencasualties, not bad people. In Texas Equisearch’s experience his lawsuit appears unnecessary. He hand wrote his COA request before test site authority was granted. He’s been honorable and I support him completely. However the control to operate is already umbrella enabled via test site authority

    If AUVSI or ANY test site were honoring their agreement to balance emerging market opportunity alongside public interest and opportunity the simple solution is already here. AUVSI and Test sites woukd first be embracing humanitarian and established public user with demonstrated history. They would be mentoring thoae businesses to easily achievable tax payer funding awards. AUVSI would be leading their keynote speachs with people like Gene Robinson and not bs about emerging possibilites that are fifteen years old. The test centers and AUVSI would be mandating their third party contracted companies to have real and not outright sham and illegal private conference rigging and sponsoring of hundred million dollar plus public money awards to occur over the next six weeks.

    Follow the money. Feelings aren’t facts. Emotion renders incompetence. The state of market roll out appears close to mid phase three scripting. It involves favored expansion of existing interests alongside pre groomed new companies privately funded by people able to easily lose five to ten million a year for three years until revenue begins turning more positive.

    Who commenting here has that depth to criss the finish line without access to the tax payer and federal funds earmarked for new business and job creation? Not me.

    Uneven wealth and resource access was to be ethicslly administered by the academic oversight. Regardless if how it did not occur no ability to create business with integroty exists. I cant in good faith lay out key people, product design or share loads of orimary data when Ive already been screwed by a test center, Camber Corporation and access to supposedly publically available state funds committed to new jib creation. For me, paying a company to change where it lives is bot the same as creating jobs. Its a lie.

    So, my synthesis is the FAA is easy to criticize but not embrace. I’m possed, but 49 other states, and their FAA advocates are really pissed.

    My vote is to focus upon AUVSI, the academic institution and whomever they contracted their center roll out with. Business is already occurring. Those cases will likely go no where. Good people become casualties. It doesn’t have to happen if the right attention is leveraged right now…square into the test center face and their consultants plans.

  5. Carl February 9, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    FAA Monopolizing and money regulatory madness must END

    What happened to “The land of opportunity?”

    Who gave the FAA rights to exempt certain companies from their own ridiculous
    regulations such as..

    Pilots license to operate any UAV commercially under 55lbs / below 400 feet?

    What has unfair monopolization and denying small business owners income from
    UAV produced Photo / Video got to do with safety?

    It is not only unfair and corrupt but probably very unconstitutional..

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