If you have flown drones anywhere in public, then you know how they attract attention. In our classes we teach the importance of being diligent to mark out a sterile launch & landing area away from people and obstructions. The reality is that it is not always possible for drone pilots to be out of speaking range from inquisitive bystanders. This is especially true when we have filmed sports or other live events, so this article is another safety best-practice worth sharing. If you haven't considered using safety vests for your crew, here are some very good reasons to make the investment for your drone flying operation.
Earlier this year, the FAA released some guidance to help legal sUAS remote pilots identify themselves and to help reduce drone pilot distractions from bystanders. Issuing Information for Operators, InFO 18001, "The FAA recommends remote pilots and other persons participating in the sUAS operation wear brightly colored and reflective vests during such operation." These vests are similar to the vests used throughout industries such as construction, utility, and airline industries to promote safety. In the picture below, our pilot is wearing a safety vest while performing an inspection.
"The vest should have wording on the back identifying the individual as the remote pilot, visual observer, or other person participating in the sUAS operation and include a caution against distracting the person wearing such vest." The idea behind the vests and the do not disturb messages are to prevent the likelihood that someone will approach or interrupt the sUAS pilot and crew while performing a drone flight operation.
The FAA continues to stress that drone pilots still need to be responsive to law enforcement inquiries in an "urgent manner." At anytime, you may be asked by the FAA or Law Enforcement to present your remote pilot certificate, drone registration, airspace approval, or any other document related to the drone mission. In our business, we have learned to be as proactive as possible by identifying our drone operation ahead of any flights to all parties involved including local law enforcement. Frequently the proactive contact allows us to handle questions or concerns ahead of the flight. This minimizes issues during the operation that could cause pilot distraction. The safety vests make it easy for the authorities to recognize us. The more tools we can use to raise awareness while flying will in turn add another element of safety.
About Carolina Drone Academy
Carolina Drone Academy specializes in providing premier drone pilot training with in-person drone training courses and hands-on drone pilot flight training across most commercial sectors including the US Military, law enforcement, media and advertising companies, colleges, engineering, construction, and other government agencies. Please visit www.CarolinaDroneAcademy.com for the latest course offerings including in-person FAA 107 exam preparation classes, Driver’s ED for Drones pilot flight training, advanced drone filming and photography, along with other specialized drone solutions.