November 25, 2015
With the holidays upon us, more people than ever will be receiving the newest drone models as novel and exciting gifts. The U.S. Department of Transportation expects over 1 million drones to be sold this holiday season. But what exactly is a drone, you ask? A drone is an unmanned aircraft commonly referred to as a UAV. The flight of drones may be controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently lists three categories of drones: public, civil, and recreational.
Public drones are those owned and operated by government entities. Civil drones are those owned and operated by private-sector entities. These types of drones are more heavily regulated by the FAA and require specific certifications.
Generally, the drone you will be unwrapping this time year, and the kind this article will discuss, falls into the recreational category. The FAA defines recreational drones as UAVs less than 55 pounds. These drones are available for a wide range of prices based on their capabilities and sophistication. Drones vary in their flight time, quality of video, size, controllability, and durability among other characteristics. No matter the drone, new and current drone owners and operators should be aware of the applicable government regulations and safety guidelines.
On October 19th, the FAA and Department of Transportation announced the creation of a task force to develop a registry system for UAVs. Some of the details of the proposed registration criteria have been leaked and are listed below:
Under the proposed registration criteria, almost all present and future drone owners will be required to register with the FAA. After registration, drone operators will want to operate their drones safely and within regulations or face potential FAA fines. There are several cases of operators facing fines over $1 million.
In September, the FAA released new guidelines for the use of recreational aircrafts. A few highlights of the new guidelines are listed below:
Other sound advice includes checking local laws and regulations before flying over private property. Remember to avoid taking photographs or video surveillance of areas where others have an expectation of privacy, like in their homes. No one appreciates a nosy neighbor. Avoid flying over obstacles, roadways, and traffic. Remember to keep the drone in sight at all times to minimize risk of injury or breach of privacy to others. Most importantly, use your common sense to stay safe while having with your new toy!