By Rebekah Waters, FAA UAS Integration Office
It can be easy to forget that a drone is an aircraft. But every drone, no matter how small, is an aircraft, and anyone who operates a drone is a pilot. This means that all drone pilots need to know the rules and always be safe when operating in the national airspace system (NAS).
There are many ways to ensure you have the knowledge required to operate an aircraft. If you are new to recreational drone flying, be sure to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST, register your drone, and download the FAA’s B4UFLY app to help with airspace awareness. Also consider joining a Community Based Organization or other group where you can connect with other drone pilots or seek mentors.
Another important tool for improving aviation safety is NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). This reporting system is voluntary, confidential, and non-punitive. Anyone can use it to submit information about aviation incidents, and reporting through the ASRS can help other drone pilots learn from what you experienced.
The ASRS collects, analyzes, and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports to help lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents. The FAA recognized its potential for developing data for drone safety enhancements several years ago. The agency worked with NASA to create an ASRS form specific to drone operations, and worked to make operators aware that the drone community could use this safety reporting system and receive the same protections as the rest of the aviation community. See AC 00–46F, Aviation Safety Reporting Program, for more information.
ASRS is currently the only voluntary safety reporting program that feeds drone-specific data into the FAA Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system. ASIAS promotes open exchange of safety information in order to continuously improve aviation safety.
ASRS reports provide helpful information for policy development, human factors research, education, training, and more. Examples of reported drone incidents include conflicts between manned and unmanned aircraft, operational mistakes that endangered persons or aircraft, and events in which wind, weather, or equipment were important factors.
Knowledge gained from ASRS reports helps generate preventive measures to mitigate hazards and threats. ASRS reports also help identify and share information on common problems, complications, and nuances relating to drone operations.
Anyone involved in drone operations can go to asrs.arc.nasa.gov to report drone related safety incidents. Just as a reminder, all data is de-identified, and the reporter receives a numerical ID as receipt of submission. The ASRS Database Online can then make drone safety information available for interested parties to review or research.
It’s our responsibility to operate drones in a way that does not endanger people or equipment within our communities. Whether you are flying for work, or flying for fun, ASRS is a great tool to help promote and maintain safety within the drone pilot community.
Rebekah Waters is a senior communications specialist in the FAA’s UAS Integration Office.