The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration kicked off its new “Know Before You Fly” campaign regarding drone safety and the legal use of drones over Christmas week. The agency is particularly concerned this holiday season given the growing popularity of drones as Christmas gifts.
Various FAA officials have noted to the media that there have been a number of close call incidents in which “rogue drones” have very nearly hit commercial airliners, helicopters and other aircraft.
Statement from FAA chief
“This is an issue of growing concern,” Michael Huerta explained to reporters in launching the campaign. “This newer and more powerful technology is affordable to more people, yet many are not familiar with the rules of flying.”
Private drone: The “Know Before You Fly” campaign
The FAA’s new PR campaign is called “Know Before You Fly”, and is highlighted by a series of videos instructing people how to “stay off the naughty list” when playing with their new drones. Basic rules include: avoid flying drones above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport or near a stadium.
Congress has ordered the FAA to “integrate drones into the national airspace” some time ago, the agency has been very deliberate in its efforts to develop a permanent set of standards and regulations to ensure drone safety. The agency has issued temporary guidelines, but they are sometimes ignored by drone enthusiasts or businesses that feel restricted by the FAA rules.
On a related note, for the most part, the drone industry has been reluctant to impose limitations or rules on drone use, for example, software that would not allow drones to fly above a specific altitude. Moreover, drone manufacturers and model-aircraft users have also opposed any efforts to require drone operators to have a special pilot license or a minimum amount of training before they can fly.