Torqued: GA Flying in the Age of Drones

With new drone regulations taking effect at the end of August that are predicted to trigger a proliferation in the number of drones being used by commercial and government entities, there are several provisions that manned aircraft pilots—especially general aviation pilots—need to be aware of so they can ensure their own safety and, of course, the safety of their passengers and the people and property below them. With these new regulations—more than a decade in the making—it’s clear that the age of drones is upon us. To underscore the significance of these new regulations, the White House recently held a one-day event to “celebrate the potential of this technology.” Called the Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation, the event highlighted the potential of drones in so many disparate fields—from infrastructure inspection to disaster relief to precision agriculture and so much more. And, indeed, we can expect Amazon to continue to push for package delivery in the airspace where GA often flies.

So for those among us who have been hoping this technology would just go away, it’s time to accept that the economic promise of this new aviation technology—some experts predict an $82 billion industry in the U.S. and the creation of at least 100,000 jobs over the next 10 years—is going to make drones a huge player in aviation, and especially in the airspace where one day in the not-too-distant future drones and manned aircraft will be flying side-by-side. But for now, GA pilots need to be aware of what the new regulations allow so that they can take the appropriate actions to stay safe.

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