Following their recent decision declaring drone aircraft as subject to regulation, the Federal Aviation Administration has broadened it’s scope to include all objects capable of a flight longer than that of their normal duration of airtime while subject to gravitational forces. As such, a rock, snowball, popsicle, tennis ball or body would not fall under its jurisdiction, while a person in a wingsuit, paper airplanes,[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”0545396344″] toy soldiers with parachutes and maple seedlets, (if not naturally dispersed), would have to meet stringent new standards. Meant to fully define just what and what isn’t an aircraft, and to increase public safety at a time when innovation has brought many new hazards into our skies than were historically present, the broad new definition was created as a preventative measure against these nascent technologies. Simply put, if it floats to earth it can be regulated, if it falls, not. Michael P. Heurta, who President Obama appointed head of the FAA in 2013 explained that while the new regulations may seem overly comprehensive they were necessary given the technological and material advances being made. He noted that , while inclusive, many of the regulations enforcement will be left to the discretion of field officers and he doesn’t expect a flood of complaints in the courts about helium filled party balloons. The regulations and definitions can be viewed at the FAA’s website.
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