Alarmed by increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft, drone industry officials said Monday they are teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign.
The campaign includes a website — www.knowbeforeyoufly.com — which advises both recreational and commercial drone operators of FAA regulations and how to fly their unmanned aircraft safely. The campaign was announced by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Small UAV Coalition, both industry trade groups, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents model aircraft hobbyists, in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration.
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The two industry trade groups also said they plan to distribute safety pamphlets at industry events, and are working with drone manufacturers to see that safety information is enclosed inside the package of new drones.
Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today's more sophisticated model aircraft, are flying off the shelves this Christmas. But the FAA is concerned that amateurs are using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could bring down a plane or rain debris down on people.
The FAA has been receiving about 25 reports per month this year of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft or airports, up from just a handful of report two years ago.
"Many of these operators have no aviation history, background or knowledge," Margaret Gilligan, FAA's associate administrator for safety, told a recent forum hosted by the Air Line Pilots Association. "They think they just bought something fun that they just want to fly around. They don't for a moment think, 'I'm entering the national airspace system.' "
Such operators don't intend to interfere with manned aircraft, but "they just don't know what they don't know," she said.
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