In February 2020, the FAA asked the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) for ways to help the drone community to fully adopt the safety culture that is ingrained in manned aviation. In response, the DAC formed four subgroups to provide recommendations for manned operators, recreational UAS operators, small commercial UAS operators, and large commercial UAS operators. AMA led the recreational UAS operator subgroup along with ALPA, AOPA, DJI, Global Drone Academy, and FPV Freedom Coalition. The subgroup met 13 times between March and September and presented their findings during a DAC meeting on October 22, 2020.
The subgroup found that the FAA does not yet fully understand the diversity of the UAS community and that one size does not fit all. The FAA should recognize that very few drone and recreational users are nefarious or unsafe and should recognize the great safety record in the recreational community. The subgroup pointed out AMA and AUVSI’s Know Before You Fly campaign as well as AMA’s unabating message throughout the years that enforces and advocates for safe recreational flying. Aside from nefarious acts, outlier incidents, or the drone-sightings report that the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) determined were not credible, the subgroup could not identify a repeatable history of significant safety issues to mitigate.
The subgroup urges the FAA to identify and collaborate with community-based organizations (CBOs) as other Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) in England, Canada, and Australia have done. Organizations, such as AMA, should be further integrated into the FAA’s advisory and policy processes. CBOs have routinely demonstrated safe recreational UAS operations and are best suited to outline the rules and regulations that directly affect their community and members.