Rogue pilots are giving the drone industry a bad name. An extremely low barrier to entry means that any Bob and Suzy with zero knowledge about flying and drone laws can go ahead and buy a drone off the shelf and set flight.
Should you report every Bob and Suzy who buys a bird? What is the likelihood of FAA initiating enforcements against illegal drone operators? What is the best way to convince an illegal drone operator to get his Part 107 license? In this blog post, I answer these commonly asked questions.
Earlier this year, Vic put in a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request. Vic requested the number of FAA enforcements against pilots flying drone without license. And the results might seem shocking to a lot of you. There were a total of TWO…yes, TWO enforcement actions taken against illegal drone operators between July 1, 2016 and February, 2018.
In the first incident, the non-compliant drone operator was charged 2,940 dollars. Whereas, the fine for the second incident was 1,300 dollars. Whilst further details were unknown for the first incident, we do know that the second drone operator broke a total of 13 Part 107 rules. Check out this snapshot -
From the above snapshot, we can infer that the noncompliant drone operator was flying over people in restricted airspace during a NOTAM!
With little to no enforcements, a lot of you might be wondering, does a Part 107 certification have any value at all? Yes, it does! This is because apart from the FAA, there is another important authority regulating the drone industry – the insurance industry.
In order to limit liability, it is imperative for a pilot to purchase a suitable drone insurance. If you study the fine print, you will find one thing common in all insurance policies - “If you are not complying with FAA guidelines, your claim will not be paid out”. So, if you are one of those folks who are flying unlicensed, we urge you to reconsider. Why would you want to risk your entire livelihood and your family’s future when flying licensed and insured can guarantee you peace of mind?
With an extremely low barrier to entry, there are many drone operators who are in the dark as far as drone laws are concerned. So, your first course of action should always be to educate a new person who has taken to the skies and can potentially cause harm to others. Highlight the risks of not getting your Part 107. And treat them with utmost respect when doing so.
But, what do you do if you are confronted with a belligerent pilot who refuses to pay any heed?
So, what do you if you a situation threatens to spiral out of control? What should you do if you feel that a reckless and unlicensed pilot can potentially harm someone? Should you report this incident to the FAA? Absolutely. This is how can do it -
But REMEMBER – the FAA is not likely to act on every small misdemeanor. Unless you have (1) Solid Evidence, and (2) are reporting a DANGEROUS situation, you will just be wasting your time and effort. Filming the entire act might be prudent in this scenario.
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