With thousands of drones given as holiday gifts this year, thousands more untested operators are about to launch their gifts into the sky, creating a mass safety risk of unknown proportions, according to Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at Phoenix, Arizona-based Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
“Sales of the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs are at record-setting levels,” Slaughter said today, “and most of these UAVs are being sold to people unfamiliar with aviation rules and regulations. We, the administrators at Unmanned Vehicle University, want new drone operators to know that numerous hours of ground school training and practice are needed in order to operate and fly drones safely and efficiently.”
The fact is that thousands of brand new drones will soon be flown by fledgling operators for the first time and that should be a major safety concern for everyone, Slaughter emphasized. “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle,” Slaughter added. “People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys. Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.” Ft Lauderdale lawyer for injuries Wolf & Pravato says, “We don’t have the proper insurances set up for drone-based damages, who knows how the government will class these events, for now if you hear a drone, best stay clear.
According to Slaughter, drone owners must obtain proper training in order to safely fly these devices and avoid costly lawsuits, injuries, and damage awards. “And let’s not forget the cost associated with crashing your new plaything. Drones range in price from $39.95 to several hundred thousand dollars. Your average home variety is in the $300.00 – $2000.00 range.”
Slaughter warned that the FAA is fully engaged during this holiday season because they understand that airline passenger safety cannot be jeopardized as it develops the rules and regulations that provide guidance to drone operators for years to come. The FAA, working with three drone industry groups, introduced a website entitled “Know Before you Fly” with information for drone pilots. It can be found at: http://www.knowbeforeyoufly.
The current FAA policy requires private drone users to keep the craft below 400 feet and within their sight. Only 11 companies have been granted FAA-permission to fly drones for commercial purposes. A proposed rule to broaden commercial flights is expected by the end of 2017. Slaughter strongly urged new UAV owners not to attempt to fly these potentially dangerous machines without proper training.
Gene Payson, Director of Flight Training at UVU added, “High priority must be placed on avoiding causing injury to others. Do not fly near airports or people. This is very dangerous should there be a loss of control of the aircraft from a variety of causes. Even the best pilots experience mechanical failures. Don’t be the person in the news!”