AOPA Opens Up To Drone Pilots
Consumer drones have attracted millions of users, and created a conundrum for general aviation — are they friend or foe? On the one hand, many pilots have embraced the technology and enjoy it; on the other hand, the small flying machines can pose a threat to aircraft if operated irresponsibly. AOPA on Tuesday took a step to embrace the drone-flying community, announcing a new line of membership options for drone pilots. The idea, the organization said in a news release, is to “unite manned and unmanned pilots for the common purpose of safe integration of all users.”
“Dividing manned from unmanned aviators would rob both of many benefits, and create unnecessary conflict,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We believe we are stronger as a united community, and welcome these new pilots with hope that our common goals of safety and freedom to fly will be achieved together.” The FAA estimates it will certify 1.3 million drone pilots by 2020, AOPA said. Within just a few years, they will outnumber pilots of manned aircraft by 2 to 1. AOPA said it will offer an online drone-pilot training course to prepare applicants for the FAA knowledge test, and will feature drone demos and seminars at its regional fly-ins.