Whether a result of increased availability, formalized FAA rules or simply the excitement of new technology, GPS World reported earlier this month that sightings of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones by manned aircraft like helicopters has increased dramatically in 2015. According to the article, there were 238 recorded sightings in all of 2014 and as of August 9, 2015 the number has already more than doubled to 650 sightings.
While this means great things for the drone industry and the UAV hobby, at the same time the large numbers of drones has caused problems in the past, including grounding firefighting aircraft in California. PBS reported that there had been five incidents in the month of july where firefighting operations had be grounded for private citizens flying drones over wildfires to capture video.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched a campaign to try and educate UAV pilots of the rules of the air with a couple of campaigns including “If You Fly, We Can’t” and “Know Before You Fly.” According to the FAA rules, drone pilots are not allowed to operate out of line of sight, above 400 feet or near people, stadiums or manned aircraft.
GPS World reported that the FAA is has been working closely with law enforcement to identify and enforce the rules about flying drones. There have even been rumors of increasing civil penalties for inappropriate flights of UAVs such as higher fines or a more serious sentence.