Commentary: Low-Flying Aircraft, Technology, and the FAA. In today’s commentary, hear MTSU professor Larry Burriss…
verbatim: “We talk a lot here about the dangers inherent in technology, the internet and computers. Privacy breaches, data theft and fake news.
But last week I heard about an incident in another state where all these questions and concerns turned out to be beneficial for at least one person. It’s a cautionary tale of what all these technological marvels can and can’t do for us.
A homeowner appears to have complained to the FAA about a private pilot buzzing at less than 300 feet. The concerned citizen even got hold of video of the low-flying red-and-white plane landing at the local airport, almost certainly identifying it.
The FAA tracked down the alleged offending pilot, who now faces having his license revoked and possibly even losing his job for flying dangerously over a house and flying the plane in a careless and reckless manner.
Enter old and new technologies.
First, the plane is equipped with new technology that automatically tracks and transmits a variety of aircraft performance and flight data.
With the reports readily available on the Internet, some have complained that their whereabouts may be being followed by less well-meaning individuals.
But by overlaying the flight data on relatively new Google Maps technology, the accused pilot was able to show that he did fly over the house in question, but was more than 700 feet away, about three hours away, from the video of another offending plane. Additionally, the data showed the pilot never landed at the airport in question.
And what about the video of the truly distasteful red-and-white airplane? Well, a close inspection of the pictures reveals that the low-flying plane is a two-seater, while the non-violating plane is a single-seater.
It’s also interesting that, for some reason, the FAA investigator who was later reassigned chose to ignore all relevant data in an attempt to “catch” the innocent pilot. He may have succeeded, except for all the new and oft-disparaged technology.
We often say here that it’s not the technology, it’s the people who use it. But every once in a while, the good guys win one. – I’m Larry Brees. “
About Dr. Burris – Larry Burriss, Professor of Journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level, he taught quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, M.A. in Journalism), University of Oklahoma (M.A. in Human Relations), Ohio University (P.D. in Journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.) . He has worked in print and broadcast journalism and public relations, and has published extensively in academic and popular publications. He is a nine-time No. 1 winner in the Tennessee Associated Press broadcast competition. Dr. Burriss’ publications and lectures include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, broadcast journalism, legal issues related to youth use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle-earth.
Dr. Burriss has served as Dean of the School of Journalism, Dean of the School of Mass Communication and Chair of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Trustees by Gov. Phil Bredesen. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he served in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.