The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has partnered with industry firms and the modelling community on a ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign, to promote awareness among unmanned aircraft (UAS) operators.
The campaign is in response to a series of recent incidents where UAS interrupted wildland firefighting operations.
The US Department of the Interior and the US Forest Service are reaching out to drone operators with the message ‘If you fly; we can’t,’ and urging them to comply with regulations.
” Flying a drone near aerial firefighting aircraft doesn’t just pose a hazard to the pilotsâ€¦lives are put at greater risk.”
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “Flying a drone near aerial firefighting aircraft doesn’t just pose a hazard to the pilots.
“When aircraft are grounded because an unmanned aircraft is in the vicinity, lives are put at greater risk.”
The FAA has introduced temporary flight restriction (TFR) that permits only the agencies involved in firefighting tasks to fly manned or unmanned aircraft.
UAS operators who violate the TFR and interrupt operations of manned aircraft will face significant civil or criminal penalties, the agency said.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said: “If you endanger manned aircraft or people on the ground with an unmanned aircraft, you could be liable for a fine ranging from $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000.
“Know the rules before you fly. If you don’t, serious penalties could be coming your way for jeopardising these important missions.”
The FAA has approached law enforcement agencies to help identify and pursue enforcement actions against unauthorised or unsafe UAS operators.