The future of UAS aircraft is probably the most exciting segment in today’s aviation. Though the drone advocates would likely disagree, the FAA has tried to apply minimal restrictions on the operation of these flights. As noted before, there is a great risk that a bad UAS accident will impact the future regulation of the recreational and commercial uses of them. Education of all users is essential to the safe introduction of this new technology.
Any more bad cases, like the one in California, may cause Congress to require the FAA to place heavy regulations on these new flights.
A UAS operator launched his bird in the Sierra Nevada foothills to the east of Sacramento, CA. Though a TFR was in place, the drone was spotted in between two Forest Service fire-fighting aircraft, the lead plane at 10,500 feet and a second at 11,500 feet. The emergency flights, air tankers and helicopters, were suspended for several hours and the fire allowed to burn, until the UAS operator responded to an order to land. The Forest Service explained its safety standard:
“If (an unmanned aircraft system) is detected flying over or near a wildfire, we will stop airtankers from dropping fire retardant, helicopters from dropping water and other aerial firefighting aircraft from performing wildfire suppression missions until we can confirm that the (unmanned aircraft system) has left the area and we are confident it won’t return,” Forest Service Assistant Director of Operations Steve Gage said in a statement.
The FAA was made aware of the incident and its spokesperson commented as follows:
“The FAA is aware of the reported incident and is looking into it… While you don’t need FAA authorization to operate an unmanned aircraft for hobby/recreation purposes, the aircraft must be operated so it doesn’t pose a hazard to manned aircraft or people or property on the ground.”
The violations included flying above 400’ (~ 11,000), violating the TFR and operating in close proximity to the fire-fighting aircraft.
Such violations cannot be excused by ignorance of the FARs, but if the manufacturers, operators and associated trade groups do not get the word out, a disaster could result. Oh by the way, those, who write derisively about the FAA’s authority and a lot of other “experts” who attack the rules as unnecessary, contribute to the behavior which almost resulted in a horrible tragedy.
ARTICLE: FAA ‘looking into’ Lake Fire dronShare this article: