While GA pilots have varied opinions about remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) — also known as drones or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) — a new survey by FindLaw.com finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans say they support restrictions on the use of drones as they become more commonplace.
The FindLaw.com survey says 78 percent of Americans support at least some restrictions on the use of drones by businesses.
In June, a drone successfully delivered medical supplies to a clinic in Virginia, but concerns about safety remain, according to FindLaw.com officials. Firefighters say a number of drones interfered with their fighting of a wildfire in California recently. And aviation authorities in the UK report there have been at least six recent near-misses involving drones and commercial airliners.
The use of drones for business or commercial purposes, such as package delivery or news photography, is currently banned in the U.S. The FAA has proposed new regulations specifying how drones can be used in business. While more than three-quarters of people surveyed said they support some regulation of drone use, the FindLaw survey found that people have mixed views on which specific restrictions they would like to see:
54% said drone operators must pass a knowledge test and obtain certification from the FAA,
37% said drones must always remain with the operator’s visual line of sight,
36% said drones cannot be flown over people who are not directly involved with the flight,
31% said drone flights must be limited to 500 feet in altitude and 100 mph in speed, while
22% did not support any of these restrictions.
The FindLaw survey was conducted using a survey of a demographically balanced sample of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4%.