Breaking down the drone debate - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Breaking down the drone debate

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

From helping farmers grow better crops to delivering pizzas to giving people a bird's eye view of natural disasters, the possibilities of what drones are about to do for everyone seem endless.

Some believe drones will change people's lives forever, while others are scared to death of them.

Just last week a drone crashed into the 30th floor of one of the tallest buildings in St. Louis but the "Gateway City" is hardly alone.

"The interesting thing in the last couple of weeks is there was a drone that fell out of the sky, it was close to a school. Another one was emergency personnel were trying to get into a wreck and a drone was flying over the wreck and it endangered the emergency personnel," said Kansas State Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Republican representing the 12th District.

Like them or not, drones are here to stay. They give people a bird's eye view of hard to reach or dangerous areas that, before, would have only been possible with a helicopter.

"Actually the reports I've seen anticipate an approximately $85 billion industry. The numbers are staggering," Tyson said.

While working on legislation concerning drones and privacy issues Tyson was stunned to learn of the expected economic impact. A recent study shows once commercial drones get Federal Aviation Administration approval, the industry will create more than 2,500 jobs and have an economic impact of nearly $3 billion on the Sunflower State alone.

But even as the business of drones is taking off, Uncle Sam says not so fast as the FAA is cracking down on the people who fly them.

"Tom" as KCTV5 will call him, says the FAA is making it impossible to grow his Kansas City drone business. He's so worried about the FAA watching his every move, he only agreed to the interview if KCTV5 concealed his identity.

"The internet is a perfect example. Obviously there's malicious ways to use the internet, but we don't shut down the internet just because of those reasons, we find ways to regulate those things while allowing for people to conduct business while using it," Tom said.

As it stands now, FAA regulations don't allow drones to be used commercially. The problem is figuring out how drones and airplanes will share the national airspace. Right now the government agency is considering fining a TV station in Arkansas for using a drone to shoot video of tornado damage last month.

"So what you're saying is drones are good, but we just need to make sure we're not going overboard?" KCTV5's Brad Stephens asked.

"Put some protections, some checks and balances, in place," Tyson said.

Tom says that's welcome news but, until the FAA makes a ruling on drones which could happen in the next two years, his business remains grounded.

"It's not a matter of just banning everything, we need to do it in an intelligent way and focus on the negative uses while promoting the things that are going to help increase people's bottom line," he said.

While business owners like Tom wait for the FAA to rule, they said they can't understand why hobbyists are allowed to fly drones and why many other countries like Canada already have drone regulations in place.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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