Got thoughts on drones? I thought you did.
The Federal Aviation Administration just released an anonymous survey about drone usage on its site — a sign that the FAA wants user input as it shapes the future of drone regulation.
The FAA’s survey is intended for people who have registered commercial drones, not hobbyists.
“The goal is to collect information on drone flight activities under the FAA’s small drone rule (Part 107), data that will help the FAA improve the services it delivers to the UAS community,” according to a statement from the FAA.
The survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete, is conducted via a website and the FAA says all answers are anonymous.
Among the questions in the survey are what types of drones you registered, where you flew and whether you requested any waivers of exemption. It also asks questions about how drone pilots get FAA-related information, perhaps an indication that some people still are unaware of where to get accurate information.
The FAA has struggled with getting information out — both given the nature of rules constantly changing, as well as general struggles to communicate those rules clearly to operators — even commercial operators.
Some rules, such as those around drone registration, are confusing simply because they change so frequently. Under current law, all drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds are required to be registered through the FAA. Registration was originally required under the FAA’s small drone registration rule effective December 21, 2015. That rule was overturned by a court decision in May 2017, however the rule was again reinstated in December 2017 via the National Defense Authorization Act.
Other times, people just don’t know the rules — and the FAA recognizes that. As of February 2018, only one drone pilot had ever been caught and punished for operating a drone business without a license. The punishment? A warning notice.
An FAA spokesman said that it is possible the agency may be handling violation allegations via education, not enforcement, which may explain why only four records were returned via a FOIA request for enforcement data related to the licensing rules, known as Part 107. The other three enforcement actions involved licensed pilots who violated.
The FAA has had varying degrees of success in making that education happen, and other industry leaders are hopping in to try to further those educational efforts.
Earlier this year, major drone industry players, led by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, launched a marketing campaign titled “Even the Sky Has Limits: Learn the Drone Laws.” It’s primarily a website that aims to clarify the confusing (and often changing) drone laws. Ads for the campaign will also run on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The”Even the Sky Has Limits: Learn the Drone Laws” campaign is a new initiative that is part of Know Before You Fly, another marketing campaign which was created in 2014 with a similar goal to help drone pilots learn what the drone laws are.
If you have opinions on the current status of rules and the communication around it, voice your opinions in the FAA’s anonymous survey. Take the survey here.