The Helicopter Association International (HAI) continues to express concern that the push by localities to regulate small unmanned aerial vehicles could have a knock-on effect for its members.
“Right now there are in excess of 1,000 local ordinances, rules and regulations regarding drone operations, and drones are a category of aircraft,” HAI president Matthew Zuccaro said during a legislative issues panel at last week’s National Air Transportation Association Aviation Business Conference. Localities “now feel empowered that they are controlling drone operations. It’s not a far cry for them to say, ‘We already control a category of aircraft, and nobody seems to stop us. Why don’t we go after the helicopters?’”
Zuccaro expressed similar concerns at a recent drone advisory committee meeting. Because helicopters and drones have similar mission profiles, HAI has embraced the drone’s emergence as a business opportunity for its members. But those similarities also have Zuccaro nervous that localities will envision a regulatory parallel between the two, and he’s seeing little to alleviate his concerns. “There’s nobody challenging them,” he said. “We are scared to death that this is possible.”