Efforts to make small-drone operations more accountable and safe are growing as the ranks of drone fliers increase.
Since Dec. 21, when the FAA began requiring registration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with maximum takeoff weights of more than 0.55 lb to fewer than 55 lb, more than 180,000 aircraft have been registered, the agency’s head told the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Wednesday.
“But this is just the beginning,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Now that we have set up the registration system, our challenge is to make sure everyone is aware of the requirement and registers."
Huerta said the agency has expanded its Know Before You Fly partnership with the industry to educate prospective small-drone users on how to fly their aircraft safely. Launched 13 months ago by AUVSI and the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the partnership now includes more than 50 members. Huerta said 20 joined in November and December alone.
The FAA this week also released an app for Apple mobile devices for small drone operators to check on current and upcoming U.S. airspace requirements and restrictions. The agency plans to release a test version of the B4UFLY app for Android devices shortly.
“We expect B4UFLY will help raise public awareness about what it means to operate unmanned aircraft safely,” said Huerta.
In a related move, starting Jan. 11 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will offer a free online course “to anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to learn about aviation,” said the school. The purpose of the “massive open online course” is to teach drone operators the basics of UAS and their operating environments. It runs through Jan. 24.