This past year, as I attended many drone conferences, I was struck by how eager public safety officials and first responders are to learn how they can incorporate drones into their operations. Their curiosity is not without good reason. Small drones with video and infrared cameras are excellent tools for things like situational awareness of critical incidents, search and rescue operations, crime scene processing, and fire damage assessments.
If you are part of one of these outfits and are considering an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for your operation, then you should know the FAA treats Public Aircraft Operations differently than civilian aircraft operations. At first glance, the FAA’s requirements for Public Aircraft Operations seem overwhelming, but take heart. Some of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) do not apply to you, and hopefully this post will clarify and ease what’s required of you.
At the outset I need to say I highly recommend speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about the FAA’s FAR’s, especially if you are seeking to fly your aircraft as a public aircraft operation. The FAA will make sure you follow the very strict requirements to be classified as a public aircraft. If you do not meet the requirements, you will be considered a civil aircraft and could be in violation of multiple regulations.