In 1977, NASA launched Voyager I and 2 spacecraft, each carrying a record with messages selected by Dr. Carl Sagan. The messages, songs, and greetings were etched onto a gold plated copper disc, and are being carried into deep space, where they are still traveling today. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
The most likely outcome for the platters is that no lifeforms will ever see them, and for the tiny chance that they do encounter something, anything, it may not be intelligent life, instead just some alien robot out to collect space trash and minerals.
Last year, the FAA published an interpretive memo on how they would like model aviation enthusiasts to behave, and invited comments. Instead of compliance and mutual support, they instead got 33,000 messages, mostly negative towards the concept of regulation.
This valuable feedback probably overwhelmed the FAA. Or maybe they don’t care. It’s hard to tell, because all they have done since then is hire a third party to quantify the comments. I’m sure they have ‘top men’ working on it… “top men”.
In February, we were again invited to comment on the long overdue Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The interest in commenting on this document has been about 1/10th of the model aircraft memo, although the proposed rule will actually have greater impact on the hobby.
- Academic and educational users that previously flew as hobbyists will be negatively affected.
- Aviation rules can be applied to hobbyists in subjective ways
- Model aircraft manufacturers have no clear way to demo and test products
- Search and Rescue volunteers are most likely going to be commercial UAS
- Commercial UAS industry will be knee-capped by only daytime line of site operation
So what will be the result of the less than 4,000 comments? Many are short, but many industry insiders and other smart people have left valuable feedback to the FAA. I am certain that if all the feedback was duly considered, that we would not only have more fair regulation, but a stronger economic position when it comes to UAS in the world marketplace. After all, that is the reason for regulations.gov, right? From their website, they aim to, “Improve federal agencies efficiency and effectiveness in rulemaking development”.
Or is the purpose of regulations.gov really to make us feel better, like our message will be listened to by intelligent people, when in reality, our messages are simply beamed into outer-space, never to be seen again?
This is where I see the problem. Even going through 300 comments and giving each serious thought requires a considerable effort. Reading 4,000 or 33,000 messages takes waaay too long. So they hire a contractor to give them a summary. How many for? How many against? But in doing that, all the best ideas are boiled down to yea or nay buckets, and even by the time that is done, the agency has moved on, rulemaking process done, better luck next time kid.
And so we come to the conclusion. Too Long; Didn’t Read. TL;DR. That is the urban dictionary phrase for what has happened to this culture as a result of giving everyone a voice. Too many voices; didn’t listen. And that will surely be the fate of this article, which I will submit to regulations.gov anyway. It will make me feel better.