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Uber Meets FAA: The Thrilla In Virginia

The Fast Mover And Breaker Of Things Encounters The Immovable And Unbreakable Federal Stalwart

By: Gene Yarbrough, ANN Political Analyst and conspiracy theorist.

UBER recently announced intentions to develop autonomously controlled passenger carrying drone aircraft as an adjunct to its popular, if yet unprofitable, passenger transportation service. The plans include on demand air taxi service providing point to point passenger delivery augmenting or supplanting ground based automobile solutions. Uber announced in March of this year that it plans to begin testing prototype air taxi aircraft by 2020 and enter service by 2023. "We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News, which got a look at the Uber Air prototype air taxi in advance of a May 8-9 meeting in Los Angeles where it was unveiled.

However, in their several announcements there has been no mention, nor even an acknowledgement of how UBER proposes to approach and ameliorate current FAA regulations on such endeavors. Perhaps UBER expects it can confront and strong-arm FAA, as it has many government bodies both here in the States and abroad, that their proposal is a "good idea" and preserves the fragile balance between safety and service the FAA is EXTREMELY well versed at preserving, even to the point of destroying an entire industry and economy to maintain.

Uber is renowned as touting itself as a company that "moves fast and breaks things" ... referring to rules and regulations ... particularly so under the direction of former CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber has taken on several local governments in the United States convincing them to allow UBER to operate in their jurisdictions with less stringent regulations than similarly situated transportation providers such as taxis, limousine service, and bus lines. UBER's toolbox includes tactics such as political pressure, personal attacks on government officials reputations, organized lobbying at high levels, and even pulling service from area's that stood up to UBER, such as Austin Texas.

However, UBER has also encountered some strong opposition, and ultimately kowtowed and acquiesced when shown that they are not the bull in the china shop they pride themselves to be. Even though UBER has come to terms with the London Parliament, the U.K. government has yet to allow UBER to resume service. The British stiff upper lip was seemingly unimpressed with Kalanick's temper tantrum, and has required significant concessions from current UBER CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

The FAA, to both its credit and disgrace, is very well known to be polar opposite to moving fast and breaking things, maintaining safety of both the flying and general public as its most highly held tenant. The agency has had confrontations from many very strong customers, and has weathered many political storms generated from business desires and even public demand over the decades. The FAA recently shot down a similar proposal for on-demand point to point air transportation services, denying FlyteNow the ability to operate under an UBER style concept. But the agency has also been shown they are subject to a higher authority, finally caving in on Third Class Medical reform and developing the BasicMed concept as an alternative to traditional third class medical issuance ... but only after 40 plus years of lobbying efforts and a literal act of Congress forced them to do so! How will the FAA receive UBER's aggressive approach? Hopefully with the same jaundiced and jaded yawn of bureaucratic indifference it is renowned for.

The FAA is ultimately against aircraft falling from the sky en masse, and if UBER's cavalier and devil-may-care track record is any indicator, the dust up between these two may be on par with those fantastic Japanese B movies of ginormous lizards fighting unbelievable grotesque monsters from the bowels of the earth.

Get your popcorn and soda ready, this is gonna be a good one!

(Images from file)

FMI: www.uber.com, www.faa.gov

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