AMA today released an analysis of the FAA’s latest drone sightings that were made public in March 2016. This follows an analysis we previously released in September 2015 on the FAA’s first dataset of drone reports.
We’re happy to share that our latest analysis shows a month-by-month decline in UAS sightings since peaking in August 2015, despite an influx of nearly 700,000 to one million new devices sold last year. We believe at least part of this decline is due to efforts to educate newcomers to the hobby, primarily through the Know Before You Fly campaign, which AMA co-founded in 2014.
Some of these sightings contain reports of several objects other than drones. Balloons, birds, a rocket – and even a jet pack! – make the list of sightings included in the reports. As we found in our first analysis, the FAA’s drone data continues to be a “catch all” for any object spotted in the sky. And once again, consistent with AMA’s prior findings, only 3.3 percent of the drone reports in the FAA’s latest dataset contained explicit notations indicating near misses or close calls.
Also in line with prior findings, many of the sightings included in the dataset may involve people flying responsibly and within current guidelines. In the March 2016 data, AMA identified 38 sightings in which drones were reported to be flying at or below 400 feet.
By educating the broader drone community, we ensure that every day more and more people – many new to the world of UAS – are getting the information they need to fly safely and responsibly. The Know Before You Fly campaign, for example, has received more than half a million unique visitors to its website since its launch. We’re very proud of this campaign, and AMA’s other educational programming, and remain committed to these critical education efforts.
Education is also the best way to prevent new, burdensome regulations on our members. AMA members were never part of the problem, but we all stand to lose when careless and reckless operators spur calls for broad restrictions on recreational flying. Conversely, the decline in the number of UAS sightings shows that the focus on education is working, and will help our efforts to protect the rights of our members.
Thank you for your continued support of AMA. As you read through the full report, please feel free to contact us with any questions.