When it comes to enjoying drones for hobby or for work, we’re all in this together. What I mean is, each drone and pilot that hits the news for the wrong reasons leads to the creation, need for, or at least a push for a new law or regulation that the rest of us have to follow.
We mentioned that shooting drones out of the sky is illegal, since then we’ve been digging through FAA records on drone incidences. We dug up a simple report, one that shows how many drones are reported to the FAA and law enforcement, and the numbers are less ideal than we thought they might be.
How many rogue drones get reported?
Nearly five drones are reported every day, and that’s a horrible number. The latest published report from the FAA shows 403 instances of aircraft pilots reporting drones in the skies where drones should not be flying, from October 1, 2018 through the end of 2018. That’s an average of 4.38 reports per day.
The vast majority of these reports did not require evasive action, thankfully, but nearly all caused grief, and were reported to local law enforcement.
Most of these reports are of drones operating dangerously close to airports, above the legal maximum altitude and many in the actual final approach, landing flight path of manned airplanes. Make no mistake, drone pilots that report their flight through LAANC are not included in this list.
There are legal ways to fly in visual range of manned aircraft at an airport. Thing is, LAANC approval puts your drone on radar, so to speak. Just as you can see live data from many aircraft in an app like Airmap on your phone, manned aircraft can see your operation area on their systems. When everyone knows where everyone else is flying, surprises can be avoided.
Are they really drones?
We don’t know. This is the hard part, and certainly lends to bad blood between the hobby and manned aircraft; Manned aircraft report everything they believe to be a drone, but a small UAS can be a difficult thing to positively identify at any distance. A piece of garbage floating in the wind is often mistaken for a drone, sadly.
Regardless if drone or trash, the list of reports across the U.S. are fairly consistent. Pilots report to ATC, ATC reports to local law enforcement and all that goes into the books with the FAA. This also includes the direct-to-FAA reports you and I can fill out as well.
Know the rules!
In the end, all I can do is ask that each and every one of you follow the rules of the sky. We don’t have to like them, but they are pretty easy to understand. You can’t fly more than 400 feet above the ground. There are actions you’ll need to take to fly within 5 miles of an airport. It is your responsibility to give right-of-way to other aircraft, specifically manned aircraft, and more.
Please, fly safe and legal out there folks, or we’ll end up losing our rights and privileges in the sky.