The popularity of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), more commonly referred to as “drones,” means there are more vehicles sharing US airspace than ever before. It is of prime importance that drone operators make safe flying their priority.
Many drone manufacturers are making safety enhancements to their aircraft, but none more than the industry leader, DJI. DJI has led the charge in aircraft safety, particularly with their sophisticated obstacle avoidance systems. For example, the recently released DJI Phantom 4 Pro has a network of forward, rear, side and downward sensors to enhance safety. The aircraft rapidly calculates the relative speed and distance between the aircraft and objects which helps the operator avoid bumping into obstacles. This nimble aircraft is also able to fly in complex environments while avoiding obstacles in its path.
The Phantom 4 Pro boasts a ‘narrow sensing’ capability enabling the pilot to fly through small spaces with great confidence. Redundant IMU’s and compasses on the aircraft ensure that the data generated during flight is accurately processed. The outcome of these advanced capabilities is a reliable and safe aircraft.
Although DJI is doing everything technically possible to ensure flight safety, drone enthusiasts must also do their part. As Michael Huerta, Administrator of the FAA, previously cautioned at CES, “…safely integrating these new pilots into the national airspace system is one of the FAA’s top priorities in order to protect manned aircraft, to protect people on the ground and of course to protect innovation…”
The ‘Know Before You Fly’ education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the FAA, has recommendations for the safe and responsible operation of drones. The recommendations include advising enthusiasts to join a community-oriented flying club such as the AMA. Such organizations offer an opportunity to fly with more experienced pilots in a safe and friendly learning environment. Although there is a fee to join, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Further advice from the safety campaign includes advising drone pilots not to fly higher than 400ft (121.92m) to avoid presenting a hazard to manned aircraft.
In addition, pilots are advised to keep their aircraft in line of sight so that the drone is always visible. The campaign discourages flying the aircraft so far away that the pilot needs to rely on a smartphone or tablet for orientation. A final piece of sage advice is to avoid flying over unprotected people and to remain at least 25ft (7.62m) away from individuals and vulnerable property.
As Huerta explained at CES concerning new drone enthusiasts, “…there are rules and regulations they need to follow and it will also help them to become part of the safety culture that has been deeply embedded in traditional aviation for more than a century…”
Observing the rules from the FAA and ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign together with using proven, safe aircraft will keep the skies a secure environment for all.