According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), there are nearly one million registered drones currently in use. It’s not surprising considering the growing popularity and utility of drones both for recreational and commercial purposes.
As our skies grow more crowded, we cannot overlook the potential risks associated with drones, especially when it comes to protecting critical infrastructure and national security.
Drone Safety Day is just around the corner (April 29th), which presents a good opportunity to highlight these issues. The FAA has provided useful tools for operators but it's not enough to simply be aware of the safety risks associated with drones. We must take more action to ensure that our skies – and our country remain safe.
The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has recognized that drones pose a significant threat and have urged the FAA and Congress to act. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) along with a large coalition of groups is calling on policymakers to implement practical regulations to address the threat that unauthorized drone usage poses to critical infrastructure, including chemical facilities.
First, the FAA must publish its Congressionally mandated drone security rule. The agency must allow facility operators to apply for airspace restrictions or drone prohibitions to help protect their site. These critical tools are needed to help prevent using drones for industrial espionage and potential terrorist attacks. As it stands now, the rule is long overdue, which is forcing the country to rely on a patchwork of state laws to address the threat and leaving a major gap in national security.
Second, Congress should include additional drone protections in the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill that would allow facilities to use counter drone technologies. This includes methods to detect and track, or in some cases, safely disable a drone.
Drones have almost limitless potential to help with a variety of tasks, but they must be operated responsibly and safely. The FAA and Congress must take the necessary steps to keep our skies safe and secure.