Some of the Newest Pilots Never Leave the Ground

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show was held this week in Las Vegas and with it, the newest technological sensations are debuted to the public. No doubt a major highlight is the convention’s drone marketplace—where exhibitors demonstrate the latest in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). While consumer and “pro-sumer” drones are selling large volumes, the CES this year is spotlighting the future use of drones for much more advanced capabilities. Eyes will be dazzled, wallets will be opened, and new pilots will join a long line of aviators reaching back to the rubber-band-powered helicopter built in 1878 by Alphonse Pénaud (whose “toy” inspired two brothers from Ohio to study the challenge of flight).

And for those drone pilots new to the world of aviation, whether purchased at CES or elsewhere, or received as a gift over the holidays—we welcome you. But we strongly urge you to carry out your aeronautical ventures into the national airspace with a top priority on safety, for it belongs to us all!

Furthermore, here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Register: Make sure you register with the FAA and label your device with your registration number. You must register if it is operated outdoors, and if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams). You also need to carry the certificate of registration with you when you fly it.
  2. Download the app: The FAA has created the “B4UFLY” smartphone app (for iOS or Android devices) that’s designed to provide any UAS pilot with additional situational awareness of nearby airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and temporary flight restrictions.
  3. Know your airspace limitations: Your UAS should always be flown below 400 feet above the ground, within visual line of sight, and not flown over people, stadiums, sporting events, or near emergency response efforts (e.g., wildfires, car crashes, or crime scenes), other aircraft, or even airports. Also, you must be aware of the local airspace limitations including temporary flight restrictions.
  4. Get certified: You should strongly consider earning a Remote Pilot certificate by taking a written test on the basic rules of that govern UAS—called “Part 107”—as well as airspace, altitude limitations, and more. You have to have one if you want to use your UAS commercially, for anything from inspecting rooftops to photographing real estate. You also need to change your aircraft’s registration to reflect your intent.

The UAS industry’s rapid breakthroughs are constantly furthering the limits of what can be achieved in the skies as the technology is advanced.  While we welcome those new to aviation’s regulatory landscape, it is critical for newcomers – whether they are manufacturers or pilots- that the policies and rules that we have in place today have been established based on lessons learned from accidents, incidents, and identified safety risks.  Our regulatory structure and our operating disciple are critical to the safety of all involved in aviation including passenger and flight crews. While it is a challenge, as the innovations are pushing right up against safety rules over a century in the making, the Air Line Pilots Association is working with UAS manufacturers, government officials, and others in the industry to ensure that air travel remains safe.

Categories: Safety