If you’ve followed the topic of electric aircraft, you know that the smaller unmanned variety is currently dominating the segment. Small aircraft need less energy, and that has made powering them with electricity instead of fossil fuels possible. Plus, they displace fossil fuel-powered manned aircraft in many cases, so they’re a big environmental benefit.
But, they do come with some drawbacks. Because some of them are so cheap and easy to use, you don’t have to be a professional user with training and common sense to afford one. There have been many media reports of people doing beefheaded things with them. Spying on neighbors (with a device that makes as much noise as a weed wacker, so they notice right away), crashing them into buildings, crash landings onto White House grounds, and many other incidents have hit the news.
Combine this with people on the ground with more gun than common sense, and it even becomes a firearms safety issue. As an instructor, I wouldn’t advise students to shoot at any aircraft, even small unmanned ones being misused, because it’s unsafe for a long list of reasons and is against both federal law (a felony that’ll make you lose your guns) and the laws of most US states. But some people do that anyway.
With all of these safety issues, it shouldn’t be surprising that the FAA is trying to increase awareness of both safety and the applicable laws. So, in 2019, they started conducting a “National Drone Safety Awareness Week,” which ran until 2021. Now, the agency is combining drone safety events into one day to make things simpler for everyone. Plus, Drone Safety Day stands out next to all of the different “awareness weeks” that there are these days.
Drone Safety Day is going to go beyond awareness, and focus on the following topics:
- Education: How to safely operate drones, fostering greater understanding of the commercial and recreational uses of drones, and highlighting how drones are being used in education.
- Equity: Opening opportunities for all operators. Drones offer an accessible pathway into aviation and provide more opportunities for historically excluded communities to be part of the aviation community.
- Economics: Highlighting the economic, societal, and safety benefits of using drone technology. For example, using a drone to inspect infrastructure that would be more dangerous for a human to inspect (i.e. bridges, towers, power-lines, etc.).
- Emergencies: Learning how drones are used in emergency situations such as natural disasters, search and rescue, firefighting, public safety, and other uses.
- Environment: Understanding the environmental and sustainability benefits of drone technology. From reforestation to monitoring wildlife populations, there are countless ways to engage with our environment using drones.
What’s great about all of this is that they’re not going to focus on drones as some nasty pest that we all need to be aware of so we can call in the pest control company. The FAA wants people to know what the safety risks are, but they also want the public to know what the safety benefits of drones are. They’re protecting the environment, keeping people out of harm’s way, saving people money, and giving diverse people better income opportunities.
Featured image provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, National Center For Autonomous Technologies.
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