Embry-Riddle Study Shows Need for Increased Drone Safety

A  study reveals that a growing number of amateur drone users are creating new dangers with risky flights.

Florida-based Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University released the study this week estimating that “only 12 percent of all detected drones were flying near unimproved land and parks.”

“More than three-fourths were flying in residential neighborhoods or near single-family homes. Another 21.5 percent hovered above commercial, industrial or public properties.”

Using a DJI AeroScope radio-frequency drone sensor, researchers monitored drone flights near Daytona Beach International Airport over a 13-day window.

After comparing 177 flights and activity with the FAA’s UAS Facility Maps, the research showed that “more than one-fifth of were flying higher than the safe altitude prescribed for their operating area.”

UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize Part 107 operations without additional safety analysis.

“These data suggest that more than one in five sUAS flights presented an unmitigated risk to nearby manned aviation operations,” the authors concluded.

The FAA has projected that the small model hobbyist drone fleet will “more than double from an estimated 1.1 million vehicles in 2017 to 2.4 million units by 2022” and “the number of remote pilots is set to increase from 73,673 in 2017 to 301,000 in 2022.”

“This was an unexpected finding,” said Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Science Dr. Ryan Wallace, lead author of the study. “We thought most drone operators would choose relatively open areas offering a safety buffer from hazards, but that wasn’t the case.”

Embry-Riddle’s team suggested drone manufacturers should more frequently incorporate geofencing technology which could prevent drones from entering restricted areas.

The new B4UFLY app is now available to download for free at the App store for iOS and Google Play store for Android.

Key features include:

  • A clear “status” indicator that informs the operator whether it is safe to fly or not. (For example, it shows flying in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, D.C. is prohibited.)

  • Informative, interactive maps with filtering options.

  • Information about controlled airspace, special use airspace, critical infrastructure, airports, national parks, military training routes and temporary flight restrictions.

  • The ability to check whether it is safe to fly in different locations by searching for a location or moving the location pin.

  • Links to other FAA drone resources and regulatory information.

B4UFly App