UAVUS Best Practices for Operating a Drone at an Event
Operating a UAV at an event, where spectators and/or participants are assembled in mass, presents challenges for the UAV operator that must be mitigated to ensure public safety and address privacy concerns.
According to the FAA, UAV flight operations must be conducted at least 500 feet from all nonparticipating persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures unless:
Barriers or structures are present that sufficiently protect nonparticipating persons from the UAV and/or debris in the event of an accident. The UAV operator must ensure that nonparticipating persons remain under such protection.
The UAV is operated near vessels, vehicles or structures where the owner/controller of such vessels, vehicles or structures has granted permission and the Pilot in Charge of the UAV has made a safety assessment of the risk of operating closer to those objects and determined that it does not present an undue hazard.
In order to comply with FAA regulations, ensure public safety, and address privacy concerns, UAVUS requires that UAV operators add the follow steps to the association’s best practices:
1. Written permission from the event promoter and property owner is secured in advance of the event.
2. Ensure proper notification to all attendees that there will be UAVs operating at the event.
3. UAV operator is sufficiently insured against third party liability in the case of an incident.
4. Event promoter designates a protected “Fly Zone” that is no closer than 150 feet horizontally to spectators and/or participants.
5. Event promoter notifies nearby businesses that could be impacted by flight operations. If a nearby business could be impacted, written permission should be secured.
6. UAV operator and event promoter conduct test flights in advance of the event to ensure UAV can be operated safely. Test flights should include practicing routes and establishing procedures in case of an emergency.
7. UAV should be fitted with propeller guards manufactured specifically for the brand and model of the UAV.
8. UAV should not be operated at night or in conditions where the operator and visual observer cannot clearly see the UAV at all times
9. If operating indoors, the UAV should be fitted with ground sensors, prop guards, and operated behind netting or other physical barriers to prevent conflict with non-participating persons.
10. The UAV operations team should include a UAV visual observer and a ground safety observer that ensures the Fly Zone is clear.
11. Under no circumstance should the UAV be operated directly above spectators and/or participants. The 150 foot horizontal separation is to be maintained at all times.
12. It is the responsibility of the UAV operator to immediately abort the mission if public safety is compromised in any way or if any malfunction is identified with the UAV.
13. The event organizer and the operator must establish an Emergency Response Plan to ensure any emergencies are responded to effectively.