FAA Debunks Drone Myths

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In a strongly-worded posting on its website, the FAA directly addressed what it called “misconceptions and misinformation about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) regulations.” It listed seven common myths and set out the underlying facts on each. The myths include that the FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet—it is responsible for all U.S. airspace from the ground up, and said it believes the myth comes from the idea that manned aircraft must generally stay at least 500 feet above the ground; that commercial UAS flights are legal if over private property and under 400 feet—not so, trying to operate a UAS commercially by claiming compliance with Model Aircraft guidelines doesn’t cut it, commercial operations must be approved by the FAA on a case-by-case basis; and that commercial UAS operations fall under a “gray area” of the FARs—again, not so, operating any aircraft in U.S. airspace requires some level of FAA approval.

Other myths busted by the FAA included: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop—the FAA said that it is monitoring them closely, often hears about them via complaint or self-posting on Internet sites and has a number of enforcement tools it is willing to use; commercial UAS operations will be OK after Sept. 30, 2015—again not so, that’s the date the FAA is required to come up with a “safe integration” plan and phase in will be incremental; and that the FAA predicted there will be as many as 30,000 drones by the year 2030—the FAA says that figure is outdated, it currently predicts as many as 7,500 small commercial UAS may be in use by 2018, assuming the necessary regulations are in place.