The FAA has demonstrated a sense of humor in their latest campaign to educate new drone operators on flight safety. “In the U.S. airspace, not so far, far away, #drones are taking to the skies,” tweets the FAA. “Before your next flying adventure, listen to the #force and follow these #FAA safety guidelines.”
The FAA has a tough job ahead of them to inform recipients of holiday drone gifts of their responsibilities. The recent National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) report on the collision between a Black Hawk helicopter and a recreational drone made it abundantly clear that not all operators – even those who have registered their drones – understand the basic rules of flight. It’s that lack of education that can lead to dangerous situations, and create a problem for both regulators and the drone industry.
Drone registration was designed to help with the problem of educating new recreational users, providing an opportunity for the FAA to present educational materials. The program was enacted in advance of the 2015 holiday season in response to an expected flood of new drones in the sky by New Years. While the program faced legal problems, it has recently been reinstated – any drone being given as a gift this year that meets the FAA criteria will need to be registered with the FAA. New operators, however, should also take the time to review regulations and get some basic instruction before taking their drone out for a first flight.
The FAA’s new Star Wars-inspired video lays out some basic rules:
- Register your drone
- Perform a pre-flight check
- Fly below 400 ft.
- Don’t fly under the influence
- Don’t fly near other aircraft
- Fly within visual line of sight (VLOS)
- Don’t fly over people
- Be aware of flight restrictions
- Don’t fly near emergencies
The video ends with an admonition to fly safely, have fun, and “be a responsible drone Jedi pilot.”