Dear BFA Members,
The linked article from AOPA lays out yet another challenge that we as balloonists are facing and the FAA is soliciting comments from you relating to it.
The issue is the use of drones for delivery of packages from hubs around the country. These hubs have already been established in many major metropolitan areas. These drone aircraft will be flying below 400 feet AGL and the intent will be to give them the right of way over all other manned aircraft. This poses a serious risk to lighter than air aircraft.
The problem is that the commission established to look at the right of way rules has proposed a rule change to the right of way rules to require us to see and avoid and proposes to give unmanned drones the right of way over us. Ballooning was not even considered in the steps taken to assess the risk.
The BFA is now preparing our response to this proposed rule change and public meetings will be held on June 22. You are being asked for individual input to this rule change. We are advising you to read the attached information and to comment against the allowance of these drones to be given right of way over all other forms of manned aircraft. These drones cannot see where they are flying and are blind to us because balloons do not have ADS-B transmission capability.
What we do as a group will matter, but each of you needs to send a letter in opposition as soon as you can. The address is contained in the attached links.
If we do not get this stopped or amended, we will have a serious increase in risk of having a collision between a drone and a balloon.
with ‘‘Attention to Laura E. Gomez’’ in the subject line
No later than JUNE 21
When sending an email comment, please include:
- Your Name
- Your Pilot Certificate (if a pilot)
- Your flying area (city, state)
- Specific concerns about right-of-way issues / safety
- Your ability (or lack thereof) to avoid a collision with an unmanned drone
- Phone number (if desired)
Pat Cannon, BFA President