by Cassandra Isackson
Director, Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics
Drones are everywhere today! Many of you know someone who has one, or have heard of an interesting way in which an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is planning to be used. There were certainly plenty of different types for sale at Oshkosh this year. Where, how and when the UAV (commonly referred to as a drone) is used, and the regulations that may be required as a result of that use, are a current topic at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and MnDOT Office of Aeronautics. Our focus is safety in all aeronautical activity, so we are concerned about the safety of manned aircraft and their passengers, as well as the safety of people and property on the ground, who may be unaware of UAV flights. I urge you to read the feature article by Aeronautics Aviation Representative Rick Braunig, who explains our position very clearly.
Rick says, “we (MnDOT Aeronautics) have taken the position that unmanned aircraft are aircraft and that they are required to be registered and pay registration tax the same as all other aircraft. Use of these aircraft for compensation or hire, or any services performed incidental to the operation of an aircraft for which a fee is charged or compensation received, constitutes a commercial operation and we are requiring such operators to get a commercial operator’s license from us. In doing this, we are simply applying existing statutes and rules. Our main concern is the safety of persons, property, transportation, and transmission lines.”
The greatest potential UAV threat to the safety of a piloted aircraft is an uninformed or irresponsible pilot of a UAV who doesn’t know the current operating rules and guidelines. Anyone who wishes to fly a UAV should checkout the website: knowbeforeyoufly.com. It is vitally important that every UAV pilot or operator, whether for hobby or business purpose, have a good, basic understanding of safety of operation, altitude limitations, responsibilities, liabilities and much more.
The UAV industry and the FAA are working together to develop sound rules and guidelines for UAV operations by anyone. At Aeronautics, we are in frequent communication with the FAA and are working hard to help everyone be safe and enjoy flight in all its forms!