Every day, drones become more popular and more widely used.. Companies like Amazon are developing new uses and ideas for drones in the commercial sector, NASA continues to experiment with new capabilities and technologies for drones, and the constantly dropping price of this technology is drawing hobbyists and small businesses into the drone market. With all this growing traffic, there are bound to be more drone crashes and accidents. It is important to consider safety issues to avoid any unfortunate mishaps, or even worse, damage to property or person.
Some safety guidelines sound like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many incidents occur around the world as a result of not adhering to simple safety rules. Always follow the rules put forth by the FAA and obey all local laws and regulations regarding drones. The vast majority of drone incidents occur as a result of violating these safety regulations.
Fly Your Drone in Ideal Conditions
Many issues can be avoided by flying in good weather. Good weather not only makes your flight easier and more enjoyable, but it also helps you keep track of your drone in the air. Remember, good weather for drones doesn’t solely mean clear skies and a bright, sunshine filled day. High winds are a good example of poor weather that can create a difficult and potentially dangerous situation while piloting a drone. Make sure to factor in all the conditions of the day when determining what “good weather” truly is for drone flights.
Keep Your Drone in Sight
It is always important to keep a direct line of sight to your drone to avoid collisions. The likelihood that the drone will encounter an obstacle is greatly reduced if the operator remains in a direct line of sight to the drone. This will also prevent unexpected collisions with other small aircraft like gliders that will unlikely be able to see your drone to avoid contact. As well as keeping your drone in sight, it is also important to maintain your radio connection with your drone. Also, be cautious when using the auto-return setting, as this can cause a collision with an object on the return trip or the drone can potentially crash. Studies have proven that an out-of-control or crashing drone has the potential to cause serious injury and even death.
Stay Below 400ft
It is exciting to fly your drone as high as it can go, but it is against the law to exceed 400ft. The higher you fly, the greater the risk of running into a small aircraft. If you see any small aircraft in the area, you must steer clear and give them open airspace. Keeping visual contact with your drone is a great way to determine if you are obeying the 400ft limit and to keep clear of other aircrafts.
Never Fly Near Airports
To further ensure the safety of aircrafts, it is against the law to operate a drone within 5 miles of an airport without special permission. Most people in the United States live within 20 miles of a major airport, so it is important to know and be aware of the area you intend to fly in. There are even apps available to help drone pilots determine if the area they are operating in is safe to fly or not. The number of safety incidents involving drones continues to grow, but can be avoided by following FAA guidelines. While there have been many accidents involving drones which were a result of mechanical failure, many are also due to pilot error and lack of operational knowledge. A recent report found that 3 out of every 5 drone incidents in the United States occurred within 5 miles of an airport, and a further 9 out of 10 were caused by drones flying higher than 400ft; this goes to show how critical it is for drone operators to adhere to the basic safety regulations.
Don’t Fly Over Crowds
A falling drone can be deadly, so it is never safe to fly over large crowds of people. This is why there are restrictions for flying drones over events, race tracks, stadiums, and concerts. These safety rules also extend to the skies over vehicles and roadways where a falling drone could cause a major accident. Drones have also been reported to lose radio contact when pilots attempt to fly through bridges and overpasses, inevitably sending them crashing to the ground, so flying through these areas is also not advisable. There are already many recorded instances of people being injured by falling drones in public places, so following all restrictions and regulations is a must.
Stay Away from Fires and Other Disaster Areas
Emergency response teams take first priority in any disaster relief effort. Various government agencies and emergency response organizations will likely be operating their own drones and aircrafts in the area to aid in rescue and relief efforts. Interference from civilian drones can hinder their rescue and recovery efforts, which can lead to loss of life and property.
In most cases, accidents involving drones could easily have been avoided. Drone operators need to follow all the proper safety guidelines — it’s the only way you can and should safely use this new technology. Drones are not going anywhere any time soon, and as this new technology is developed, the uses for drones are only going to multiply. By following the proper rules and regulations, you can enjoy fun and safe flying experiences with your drone.