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Article in General Aviation News

PatR

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An interesting article was published in a manned aviation publication the other day that speaks favorable of our equipment and capabilities: Are airports the safest place to fly drones?
What makes this notable is that is comes from people with a manned aviation background, an area typically populated by people afraid of anything they don't understand or those that fear a loss of income through infringement of their previously exclusive domain. I'm referring to professional aviators in the manned aviation group.

We need more articles like this one to promote our capabilities in a positive light, instead of what has been largely falsely reported over the past several years. Forums such as this one can provide a location for sUAS professionals to effectively network and develop avenues to better promote ourselves, instead of manufacturers and large hobby organizations using government to promote their products and increase their memberships through an ever expanding regulatory process.
 

Tim Jones

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I look for more organizations to pop up, but so far not too many seem to be gaining traction.
One needs to pull ahead of the others.
Only when an organization brings enough benefit to the members as to actually impact legislation will they be effective, and that requires members sign up. Right now there are just too many with too few members
 

PatR

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There is one, although originally not intended to benefit drone people, with considerable legislative clout and very active with keeping airspace open to the average person. The Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, or AOPA. They are actively soliciting sUAS operators to join and offering various services to us like insurance brokerage, training, and education.

The downside is they are generally supportive of the regulation proposals being made by corporate aviation, the AUVSI, corporate aerospace, DJI, AMA, the Airline Pilots Association, and other organizations looking to monopolize or capitalize heavily in drone operations and hardware sales. However, the AOPA responds to the membership majority in their lobbying activities. The manned aviation membership is somewhere in the area of 150,000. Loosely using FAA drone registrations of roughly 800,000 for reference, it is highly probable that enough sUAS operators joining the AOPA could sway the organizations direction more favorably towards legislation that would benefit us rather than restrict us. A large organization could also be employed to provide positive media releases that more accurately depicted our equipment and activities while providing the positives we so sorely lack in the general media outlets.

I don't believe organizations like the AMA are our friend. They ignored us for too long and appear more interested in expanding their revenue base through increasing membership of non traditional sUAS operators like ourselves. Their focus is more towards traditional aero modeling and promotion of aero competition, both nationally and internationally. Their corporate charter prohibits political lobbying which renders them fairly useless in guiding the legislative process. Those that read the fine print in the insurance coverage for aero modeling might find a few negative surprises in it. The AUVSI is another that is not beneficial to us as their interests revolve around large system promotion and development and marketing to governments and military organizations.

So we need an organization that understands aviation, government, the legislative process, responds to membership's interests, and has existing lobbying capability. Right now the AOPA is the most viable organization that I'm aware of, and we need representation now. We no longer have the luxury of time to grow a new organization. We needed such a group 5 years ago but we've all been too focused or distracted (by design perhaps?) on product debates and arguments that have kept us divided instead of banding together for a common cause. As the new temporary head of the FAA is a retired Air Force and airline pilot we need to act quickly. That back ground is highly supportive of regulations, and published policies and procedures. Those familiar with either of them understands there's an attitude of "if it's not specifically published as permitted it's prohibited".
 
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Dave Pitman

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@PatR I agree with your opinion regarding AOPA. I've been a member for over 20 years and while they are not perfect, they are pretty good at trying to be dynamic to the interests of the membership rather that their own interests (which of course benefits them in the long run which is what some other organizations don't understand).

I was surprised and delighted that they so quickly started addressing UAS related concerns with the writing of 107. As you say, they are probably the best positioned to speak for the "little guy" Part 107 operator at this point. I encourage my fellow Remote Pilots to spend a few bucks to join.
 

PatR

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I've been a member since '89. Most recently I found them quite helpful in researching multiple carriers for sUAS insurance coverage. I didn't end up going with any of their quotes, choosing another vendor, but they provided carriers I had not been aware of. On a different note, I can't begin to count the number of small airports and pilots that are still operating today because of the help the AOPA provided them. Their knowledge of the regulations and the legislative process is exactly what we need.
 

AH-1G

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I look for more organizations to pop up, but so far not too many seem to be gaining traction.
One needs to pull ahead of the others.
Only when an organization brings enough benefit to the members as to actually impact legislation will they be effective, and that requires members sign up. Right now there are just too many with too few members
You have to start organizing some time. Yes it will take time but who or what are you going to wait for?
 

embayweather

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A great idea indeed. It is long overdue for a professional body to represent our interests, but I am wanting to have this in the UK. AOPA does not represent UK residents. So it raises the question as to what can be recommended for the U.K., or indeed internationally. Would an 8nternationak group be more effective for us, or a hindrance?
 

Dave Pitman

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@PatR Maybe you could get in touch with AOPA's uas lead and get their reaction to them standing up for small-man part 107 in exchange for 10s of thousands of new members.
 

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