As aircraft enthusiasts and pilots are finding a greater demand for their commercial services, a number of changes have been witnessed in the airspace. This includes a greater volume of small aircraft that navigate the skies, along with larger commercial and military airplanes. However, these actions also require the registration of flight plans with the FAA, in order to maintain both safety and the proper operation of aircraft.
What has become a pressing issue for all pilots and aircraft is the preponderance of UAVs that are also sharing the sky. It should be noted that the term UAV has historically referred to hobby planes and RF signal flyers, all of which have had a fairly limited range and low ceiling limits. This also meant that sharing airspace with these unmanned aircraft had been a non-issue, although regulations on RF signal strength and frequencies are monitored by the FAA.
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In current times, UAVs are primarily becoming drones, which operate differently than RF flyers. These drone models are capable of exceeding sizes of 50 pounds and achieving an altitude of higher than 500 feet and faster than 100 mph. The result is that UAVs are presenting a dangerous threat, both to commercial aircraft and to smaller, private airplanes.
Thankfully, the FAA is rapidly setting better standards for monitoring and restricting flight on unmanned aircraft. Current rules and enforcements are focused on speed and altitude, although micro UAVs are coming under greater scrutiny for regulation.
At present, the FAA is still in the process of gauging public response and adherence to the currently proposed rules. Although definite restrictions regarding use of UAVs around airports and airstrips are being enforced, these regulations may still be woefully minimal when it comes to actual air safety. At Covington Aircraft, we are following these changes intently, with the hope that air safety improvements will extend to all sectors who utilize the sky.