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New FAA Guidance On Hobbyists Is Worth A Look

For commercial users trying to educate the general public on other issues already, like privacy for one, having to also explain that drones are more than just interference to emergency response efforts, is something we should all work to alleviate.
By Luke Geiver | September 03, 2015

 

The more you talk with commercial companies like insurance firms or agronomist operations, the more you hear the idea that adding a small unmanned aircraft system to their respective entities is like adding another tool to the toolbox.

An announcement—along with the two stories we published this week on that announcement—from the FAA regarding a clarification meant for hobbyists or non-commercial UAS operators is a tool we all need to have. The tool, to continue with that term, will be very handy when we are asked how UAVs can be made more safe. The announcement is also going to be very useful when we need to explain why there needs to be a clear distinction made between commercial and hobbyists UAS users.

The summation of the announcement and the stories we posted is that hobbyist UAS operators can be regulated by the FAA and they do have to abide by certain flight rules and regulations. For instance, a hobbyist cannot fly in an area where airspace is restricted, a Notice to Airmen has been issued or near certain infrastructure. And, if a non-commercial user is endangering the safety of the nation’s airspace, the FAA can step in.

This is important to note following the stories we’ve heard or read about from this summer involving firefighter efforts against forest fires or other stories related to crash sites. In both story examples, drones were cited and noted as interfering with emergency response operations. For commercial users trying to educate the general public on other issues already, like privacy for one, having to also explain that drones are more than just interference to emergency response efforts, is something we should all work to alleviate.

So, in the future, when the topic of drones turns negative for some reason due to stories we’ve heard of regarding drones interfering with public operations, pull out this story/announcement as a tool. It highlights the very real fact that not all operators are piloting under the same regulatory reality, even if they are flying in the same airspace. There are different consequences for different operators. But, thanks to the FAA’s recent clarification, hopefully it will keep the majority of small UAV operator’s in-line with the safe strategies and operational protocols that commercial users are following to maintain a safe airspace.