#003 – How To Get a FAA ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Card

In Podcast by Ian SmithLeave a Comment

Attention commercial drone pilots: learn from Ian how to get access to a little-known FAA program which essentially grants you a “Get Out of Jail Free” card that can be used to help you get out of trouble when operating your drone commercially. Please fly your drones safely.

Show notes:

  • The FAA ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card ford commercial drones
    • ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System) – http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov
    • Confidential, Voluntary, and non-Punitive
    • Also referred to as a NASA report
  • Report accidents to the NTSB and FAA!
  • 1976 FAA appointed NASA to manage this system
  • Caveat: this cannot completely excuse you from responsibility
  • The ARC 277B form offers pilots limited immunity from penalties and certificate suspensions
  • You are protected if:
    • Violation was inadvertent and not intentional
    • Violation did not involve a criminal offense or accident
    • You have not been found responsible for a previous violation within the past 5 years
    • You can prove a NASA report was filed within 10 days of the incident
  • FAR 91.25 prohibits reports filed with NASA for being used for FAA enforcement purposes
  • Why is this even allowed?
    • The ASRS system captures and analyzes the reports and then shares the findings with the aviation community
    • FAA assumes filing this report is similar to an act of contrition, assumes you will not make this mistake again
  • It’s not an entirely free pass because the offense can be put on your record, it just means there will be no direct penalty against you from the FAA
  • Writing down the circumstances of the violation will reinforce the infraction in the pilot’s mind making it likely you’ll adopt a better attitude and not commit the same mistake a second time
  • The ASRS team, based at Moffett Field, receives ~200 reports every work day, approximately 40,000 per year with nearly 500,000 responses in total.
  • Reasons a commercial drone operator might file a NASA report:
    • Altitude deviations (accidentally operate above 400 feet AGL)
    • Encroachment on controlled airspace
    • A near-miss with another aircraft
    • Flying over people when not authorized to do so
  • Knowingly breaking the regulations does not qualify! i.e. Amazon cannot deliver packages BVLOS and be ok since they would knowingly be breaking the rule
  • “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” = not my previous Chief Pilot
    • Had a close call when I was building hours for commercial pilot training
    • Was not aware of encroaching a closed-off, highly congested area above a boat race—weren’t on same radio frequency, were not briefed on situation, ATC kicked us out of the area
    • Had to file a NASA report when back at home base (within 10 days of the incident) and everything went well at the end
  • This does not excuse you and is not a way to get away with accidents or blatant subversion of the rules! Report any accidents directly to the NTSB/FAA.

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