The Federal Aviation Administration is warning drone hobbyists to heed regulations in order to prevent collisions between drones and airplanes.
According to CNN, Michael Huerta, head of the Federal Aviation Administration, notes that regulations are in place to prevent drones from interfering with large aircraft. However, not all drone operators are following the guidelines set forth by the FAA. The FAA hopes to increase education and enforcement of the laws that they feel are necessary to keep drones from interfering with airplane flights.
WTMA reports that the FAA is concerned about safety, as the number of cases involving aircraft and drones is increasing. Since February of this year, nearly 25 airplanes have had to change course due to near collisions with unmanned drones. Altogether, there were about 200 incidents involving drones since February, including the 25 that caused a diverting of course. Huerta said the concern is serious.
“That is certainly a serious concern and it is something that I am concerned about.”
As it stands now, FAA regulations prohibit operators from flying drones higher than 400 feet, near an airport, or out of eyesight. However, enforcing these regulations has proven difficult. Aside from identifying drone flyers not operating within the FAA’s rules, many drone operators may not be educated on proper use. Therefore, the FAA wants to spend more time educating the drone hobbyist community on how to safely fly a drone, not just prosecuting those who disregard regulations.
“We have been working with the Model Aeronautics Association, with the model community and clubs so we can educate people because these are not your typical pilots that may be flying one of these for the first time and they may be unfamiliar with the rules.”
Some drone proponents, however, would like to see free and open use of drones.
“Yes, there are proponents of unmanned aircraft and they really see huge potential with this technology and for them, we can’t move fast enough,” Huerta said. “What they would like to see is free and open use of unmanned aircraft as soon as we can get there.”
Huerta says that he understands their enthusiasm towards drone use, but wants them to consider the airplane pilots prospective. Drones are small and difficult to see for pilots. This means that a collision can be very difficult to avoid when a pilot does not know a drone is in the area or flight path. The FAA is looking at ways to appease both the airplane community, as well as drone operators. One suggestion is to find a way to certify the drone aircraft and operator.
“I can’t say what is going to be in it but broadly speaking, what we are looking at are all the questions relating to how we certify the aircraft and what are the qualifications of the operator as well as what uses they can be put to.”
What do you think of the FAA’s concerns regarding drones and standard airplane traffic? Does the FAA have a right to limit the use of drones to 400 feet?