3 Federal Agencies Will Want To Know When You Crash Your Drone
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Here’s how to figure out the reporting requirements when you crash your drone.

Below we will discuss the reporting requirements you make to the FAA and the reporting requirements you make to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) following a drone crash. Just to be clear, this whole page does NOT apply to Part 101 model aircraft.

[Nor does it reflect any state or local requirements.]

FAA Reporting

There are two types of reporting made to the FAA: (1) when there has been a deviation from the regulations and requested to report, and (2) when there has been an accident.

1. Upon Request Following a Deviation Due to an Emergency

107.21 In-flight emergency.

(a) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the remote pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent necessary to meet that emergency.

(b) Each remote pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (a) of this section must, upon request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.

2. After an Accident (Within 10 Days)

The FAA gives you 10 days to respond. I would highly suggest you take this time to contact an attorney. Remember that the FAA can prosecute you if you did something stupid.

107.9 Accident reporting.

No later than 10 calendar days after an operation that meets the criteria of either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, a remote pilot in command must report to the FAA, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator, any operation of the small unmanned aircraft involving at least:

(a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or

(b) Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1) The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or

(2) The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss.

The FAA provided more guidance on this regulation on page 4-3 in their Advisory Circular 107-2:

NTSB Reporting

“The NTSB is an independent federal agency, charged by Congress to investigate transportation accidents, determineprobable cause, and issue safety recommendations to prevent similar accidents. The agency’s scope extends beyond aviation crashes, as it also investigates selected rail, marine, highway, and pipeline accidents, as well as those involving transportation of hazardous materials.”[1] The NTSB is COMPLETELY separate from the FAA. “The primary role of NTSB is improving safety of our nation’s transportation system. The agency determines the probable cause of accidents and issues safety recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. It does not determine fault or liability. I

ASRS Reporting

The ASRS system is run by NASA which is why this report is nicknamed the “NASA Form” or the “NASA Report.”  “The FAA also notes that the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is available for voluntary reporting of any aviation safety incident or situation in which aviation safety may have been compromised. The FAA offers ASRS reporters guarantees and incentives to encourage reporting by holding ASRS reports in strict confidence and not using ASRS information against reporters in enforcement actions. Further, the FAA agrees that data collection is a valuable tool for determining a baseline for performance, reliability, and risk assessment. The FAA plans to develop a tool where remote pilots of small UAS can voluntarily share data which may not meet the threshold for accident reporting. This would provide a means for evaluation of operational integrity for small UAS.”

This is an extensive article from Jonathan Rupprecht including a nice flow chart infographic which is free to download in exchange for subscribing to the newsletter. A very fair deal.
What is important to understand is that the discipline of flight safety is data driven. In many cases (and Jonathan details them) the data about a crash is more important than prosecution. In military aviation, this is expressed as “the concept of privilege” where testimony is solely concerned with getting to the true cause of the accident.
As Frank Mellott, a retired USN Commander and safety expert explained to me when I interviewed him for my article, Why Standards Will Be Critical to UAV Adoption. “Data is the key to identifying the operational areas where there are problems. If you can identify the problem and break the causal chain, you can avoid the next accident.”
If you are a pilot or employ drone service providers, it is very important that you comply when required. Yes, it’s embarrassing to say you crashed, and luckily not every crash has to be reported. The evolution of Part 107 depends on learning from your experience. As does your own ability to operate safely.

read more at jrupprechtlaw.com

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