Just in time for the holidays, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a new issue of its Information for Operators (InFO) that pertains to Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations. InFOs convey valuable information intended to help operators meet certain administrative, regulatory, or operational requirements with relatively low urgency or impact on safety.
The InFO responds to the general public’s concerns with operating UAS, commonly known as drones, in part because it can be difficult to identify and hold accountable UAS pilots for unsafe or invasive flights.
As UAS activities in populated areas continue to climb, so have the public phone calls and complaints to law enforcement agencies and the FAA. These complaints often allege that a nearby drone is spying on them or flying too closely.
However, in many of these instances, the UAS activities actually are complying with FAA regulations, and these “false alarms” tie up resources that are needed for other public safety functions.
In addition, when UAS pilots are questioned by law enforcement or confronted by members of the public, there is a chance that these interruptions will distract the UAS pilots and adversely affect flight safety.
InFO #17018 offers UAS pilots techniques to clearly identify and (in theory) legitimize their operations not only to law enforcement but also the general public. By wearing safety vests (pictured at right) or other identifying clothing, the UAS pilots and/or the visual observers assisting the pilots distinguish themselves as safety-centric personnel, similar to construction, highway and utility workers, and demonstrates to the public that the pilots are accepting responsibility for their UAS operations.