Ensuring I’M SAFE For Every Drone Flight
By Scott Gore, FAA UAS Integration Office
Drone Pilots: Did you know that every time you operate your drone, you’re responsible for making sure that you are physically and mentally ready to conduct that flight safely? It’s true for all UAS (unmanned aircraft system or drone) pilots, whether you are flying a drone commercially under part 107, flying for fun under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, or flying under any other rule.
Did you know that every time you operate your drone, you’re responsible for making sure that you are physically and mentally ready to conduct that flight safely?
To perform a physical and mental wellness check before each flight, the “I’M SAFE” checklist is a great resource to use. As shown in the graphic, you can use “I’M SAFE” to check for any of the following conditions — Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, or Emotion — that could impact your ability to operate your drone safely. If you are experiencing any of these conditions, you should delay the flight until you are physically and mentally ready to conduct that operation safely.
As a drone pilot, one of the best ways to mitigate potential risks and determine your readiness is to follow the “I’M SAFE” checklist before initiating each flight. If you use a visual observer, ask them to use the checklist to ensure that they are physically and mentally prepared for their responsibilities.
Part 107 remote pilots and visual observers can find the requirement to determine pre-flight physical and mental readiness in 14 CFR section 107.17 (medical condition). Recreational flyers are required to follow the safety guidelines of a Community-Based Organization (such as an aeromodelling club) or follow the FAA’s basic safety guidelines posted on our website. The FAA guidelines specify that recreational flyers should not operate a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The safety code of an aeromodelling club will likely contain a similar requirement, and you should check your organization’s guidelines to be sure.
In June 2021, the FAA published The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST): bit.ly/FAATRUST. It’s required for everyone flying a drone recreationally. It’s free, online, and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. A variety of FAA-approved test administrators offer the training, and it includes safety information (similar to the “I’M SAFE” checklist) to make sure you have a fun and successful flight.
Make sure I’M SAFE before you fly your drone. It’s your responsibility.
Scott Gore is a program manager for strategic engagement in the FAA’s UAS Integration Office and previously worked in the agency’s Office of Government and Industry Affairs.