In recent years U. S. Aviation regulators hastily accepted commercial drone applications. This flurry has resulted in lax safety rules.
Over a period of 2 years, 5500 exemptions were approved. These drones are used for businesses from film-making to agriculture. However, limited training for safety inspectors was provided. In spite of this, these inspectors have had to cope with an enormous amount of new operators.
In its haste to grant approvals, the agency did not check whether applicants had pilots’ licences. The whereabouts of the Applicants operating were not recorded. These inspections were almost impossible.
Over the last year, more than 500 000 people have registered unmanned aircraft. Safety incidents involving drones reached more than 100 per month.
A recently released government watchdog report stated that there is a lack of rigorous data. This data reports and tracks system for drone movement. Furthermore, the report pointed out that the information available is fragmented. It makes it difficult to interpret.
In 2012 Congress authorised the FAA to grant exemptions allowing commercial unmanned flights. This permission was for aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds. The agency proceeded to write formal regulations allowing such flights for hire. These regulations went into effect on 29 August 2012 and made provision exclusively for recreational users.
The FAA has now concentrated on educating ‘delinquent’ operators in safety rules rather than opening enforcement cases. Up until April, the agency has sent out 625 “Instructions for Operator” letters to drone users while only enforcing action against 30 for safety violations.
The agency has furthermore taken steps to improve compliance with drone operating rules. In addition, new training has been implemented for the education of its inspectors. A drone knowledge test has been compiled for commercial drone operators.
- Aviation authorities recommend flying below 400 feet or 121 meters AGL. This is to avoid a collision with manned aircraft such as aeroplanes and helicopters. AGL stands for “above ground level”
- Maintain visual line of sight, i. e. always make sure you can see your drone at all times
- Flights over people are not permitted. This can include a group of people or even a single person
- Abide by the rules of your city or town
- If you’re flying within 5 miles of all airports you need to give notice to the airport.