AirMap found itself in hot water on Friday afternoon after the company suggested in a series of tweets that governments could create new revenue streams through taxation, take-off, and landing fees for drone flights to support UTM service, such as Airmap(!). As you can imagine, this idea was not well received among the drone enthusiasts and professionals on Twitter and other social media.
Update 1/24/2021: AirMap seems to be in damage control and delete the tweets. You can find a screenshot of them below.
AirMap suggests to tax drone flights and apply take-off and landing fees
On Friday afternoon, AirMap a drone services provider tweeted the following messages in which the company suggests that state, local, and tribal governments can generate new revenues by taxing drone operations and charging take-off and landing fees on drone flights.
Here are Airmap's tweets from Friday afternoon. As you can imagine these ideas were not well received within the drone community.
“State, local, and tribal governments have always had the authority to regulate #UAS take-off and landing via their zoning authority and Police powers. But they may want to do more to enable safe #drone use in their communities. (1/2)”
“With a #UTM system, state, local, and tribal authorities can gain visibility into nearby drone operations and publish airspace restrictions and notices to drone operators. These rules will be tiered according to levels of authority within the UTM system. (2/2)”
“#Drone Technology offers economic benefits. Governments can create new revenue streams that support #UTM services, like taxation and take-off and landing fees. They can also design incentive programs that encourage #UAS and #AAM businesses to locate in their communities.”
Additional taxes, and local take-off and landing fees and regulations would hurt the hobby and thus the commercial Drone Industry longer term, as the DroneAnalyst pointed out in an article earlier today. As the safest form of aviation, we must maintain the right to fly drones with a minimum of rules and taxes.
AirMap in hot water after suggesting to tax drone flights
The Drone Service Provider Alliance responded by saying that: “Don't see how taxation and take-off and landing fees encourage UAS businesses to operate in communities. It actually serves as a disincentive.”
In response to Airmap's tweets, many drone operators decided to delete the AirMap app from their smartphones. Here are a few reactions:
“Seriously? Take off and Landing fees? As a landscape photographer, technically commercial, but hardly a high revenue prospect, I can't imagine how this would make sense. Airmap app has been deleted from my devices as it's clear you don't support this business,” said Bill Heiser.
“The airspace must remain free and open to everyone. #nodronetax,” said the Pilot Institue
“Thank you @AirMapIO for helping the government hit hard on the drone operators. I just deleted the app from all my devices,” said ALF
“This is ridiculous! I'm deleting Airmap as well. Thanks for the knife in the back,” said Bob Burnett
A few years ago, many in the drone industry were concerned that the calls for local drone regulation were not about thoughtfully addressing actual concerns or solving problems, but about imposing damaging new taxes and fees on a nascent industry. https://t.co/0RqVDguhsF
— Brendan Schulman (@dronelaws) January 22, 2021
As new RID rules get rid of network reqs and UTM still far away, it's sad to see AirMap pushing for ways to monetize their software that will harm the industry. We've seen firms like @kittyhawkio and @ANRATech take more mature approaches, productizing what has value today. https://t.co/NdmSCdC37W
— Drone Analyst (@droneanalyst) January 23, 2021
The airspace must remain free and open to everyone. #nodronetax
If you agree with these folks and with us, be sure to leave your comment on AirMap's Twitter feed!
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