Description: DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer, is asking regulators worldwide to consider updating a key measurement standard for drones.
The drone manufacturing giant says the weight threshold for the lowest-risk or smallest drones should be increased from 250 grams to 2.2 kilograms - just under five pounds.
“The FAA decided that 250 grams was a good weight to set for a registration threshold. So we’re not proposing or suggesting that weight should change, what we are suggesting is that other countries and other regulations in the U.S. shouldn’t look at that 250 grams as a weight that’s significant for safety reasons.”
DJI's Walter Stockwell helped write the report, “Defining a Lowest-Risk UAS Category.” AirVūz caught up with him while he was in Spain working with EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, on Europe’s version of the Part 107. He thinks both Europe and the FAA will be open to these suggestions.
“I think this is one industry where we want new regulation because it will help us fly more. Before Part 107, it was very awkward to get approval to fly, and when Part 107 came out it actually helped the industry. So I think in the US we’re actually looking for more regulations because the regulations they have planned have made it easier to fly.” -Walter Stockwell
In its report, DJI says the FAA decided on the 250 gram weight limit based on a report from 1968. The data was collected from a “Range Commander Counsel Report,” that looked to see how many people would die if there was a nuclear war. That report based some of its numbers off data from a 1920’s report studying how much impact an object could have based off size and velocity. From there researchers created a damage curve based on weight and energy.
“That was appropriate for that application, maybe… and it was maybe appropriate for this range counsel commander estimate if a rocket blows up because they were also doing shrapnel and thing. But it's really not appropriate for a drone, which is a big thing usually plastic, it's not like a bullet. It's not going to hit you or go through you, it's going to bounce off you, it's going to hit you and twist around. And so that's the problem really, is that they were using a damage curve for one area and just trying to apply that to a completely different area where it’s not really appropriate.”
Stockwell said that the weight requirement the FAA uses for drone registration affects regulators around the world because they assume the number to be a “safety” threshold, something Stockwell says is simply not the case.
“I can’t criticize them entirely because if you don’t have that funding you just do what the guy did last year, and that is what people have been doing the last 40 years. Hey, I found this reference someone did it, I don't have funding to make my own curve. These regulations are really impacting a large industry at the beginning of it's, you know, what could even turn into an even larger industry. So it's time to take a step back and do it right I think.” -Walter Stockwell
Stockwell said the FAA doesn’t need to change drone registration size, but that if new regulations are put in place to assess safety standards their 2.2 kilogram weight threshold should be considered.
AirVūz reached out to the FAA for a response, but have not heard back.
For more information, read the full report.
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