While by law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval, § 33 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, permits the FAA to allow waivers for commercial drone use. On August 20, 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will audit the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) current processes for commercial drone use applications.
While the DOT Office of the Inspector General understands that the use of drones is beneficial for many commercial avenues, such as agriculture, filmmaking, and the insurance industry, he is concerned that the FAA’s processes are too lax since an increasing number of applications for commercial drone use are receiving approval. The FAA has approved over 1,200 applications since last September.
The number of drone related incidents has also increased to an average of about 60 incidents per month–the DOT says that it is these “significant and complex challenges” of safety that warrant this audit. The DOT’s audit announcement said
Some of the incidents did not pose a safety risk, but others have involved reports of pilots altering course to avoid [drones].
The DOT’s audit will begin this month.