Drone Buffs May Face New Restrictions If Alphabet Gets Its Way

A trade group representing

Alphabet Inc.
’s Project Wing and other companies is asking Congress to impose new restrictions on the hobbyists who fly millions of drones in the U.S.

Congress passed a law in 2012 exempting hobbyist drone operators from U.S. aviation regulations if they adhered to safety rules established by users’ groups, a provision that has rankled companies like Project Wing as it seeks order in the skies to deliver consumer goods by the flying devices.

The Commercial Drone Alliance on Wednesday asked lawmakers to revoke that provision so that all drone operators are subject to Federal Aviation Administration regulation, it said in a press release. All drones should “abide by some common sense, low-cost ‘rules of the road’ around remote identification and more,” the group said. Current rules have given some people “the mistaken impression they are flying legally.”

The alliance members include

Time Warner Inc.
’s CNN,

Ford Motor Co.
and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. While

Amazon.com Inc.’s
Prime Air isn’t a member, it has sought similar assurances hobbyists will be following FAA rules before its drone delivery program begins.

The appeal comes as the FAA is drafting regulations that would require all or most small drones to broadcast their identity to improve security and safety. There has been at least one confirmed collision between a drone and a traditional aircraft in the U.S. as reports of near collisions increase.

The nation’s oldest hobby group, the

Academy of Model
Aeronautics, has said rogue drone operators should be punished, but its members fly under the group’s own safety standards and don’t need additional restrictions.

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