Drone Incursions Over Wildfires on Decline, Sign that Education Is Working


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The FAA has been working with partners—most notably the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), and the U.S. Forest Service—to educate drone pilots about the dangers of flying near ongoing wildfire operations for years now.

It has helped create the When You Fly, We Can’t campaign, designed to let drone pilots know that their operations over wildfires could actively endanger manned pilots working in that area, as well as those in the fire’s path (since firefighting efforts may have to stop while the rogue drone flies through).

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It’s also launched an information-sharing system to help drone pilots be better informed about NOTAMs and TFRs related to active wildfire operations, as well as fires that are so new they may not have made it onto official channels yet.

And it looks like all of these efforts are paying off.

Read today's article to learn more about recent data suggesting that drone incursions over wildfires are on the decline, along with some considerations about how to look at the information.

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@Archangel DronesI don't think so, but I haven't gotten to speak directly to any of these fire fighters so I don't really know. The impression I get is that they're so busy dealing with the fire that all they know is there's something in the sky making it so they can't use their manned aircraft to help with the fire. Probably DJI would be a majority though, definitely sounds likely!

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Government initiatives like these like to take credit and issue press releases to brag about it.  I don’t believe this campaign had much to do with changing the behavior of drone pilots.  

We have worked with a lot of fire departments, a couple of years ago if a drone appeared anywhere near airborne operations they would shut them down.  After two highly publicized midair collisions between helicopters and drones put the risk into perspective many incidence commanders have (unofficially) relaxed their zero tolerance drone policies  they’re using their own judgements to make decisions.  There are probably more manned aircraft incursions into the TFRs than drones.  

Two years ago if you posted aerial footage of these massive fires on YouTube it would probably go viral, today It’s common place to see all kinds of footage from people escaping the fires so the aerial Footage is no longer unique. Much of the incentive to shoot aerial of these fires is gone so there’s no longer a “market” for it so fewer drone operators are flying around fires.  

Sorry in advance if this is mentioned in the article. I haven’t read it yet.

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