United States Government Accountability Office- FAA lacks reliable information about the extent of unsafe use of sUAS in the NAS

Something for the weekend sir, an interesting report – GAO sUAS Report -from the United States Government Accountability Office. Well worth sitting down with a beer and considering.

What GAO Found

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) information on the extent of unsafe use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system is limited. Although FAA collects data on several types of safety events involving small UAS, the accuracy and completeness of the data are questionable.

For example, since 2014, pilots and others have reported to FAA over 6,000
sightings of UAS, often flying near manned aircraft or airports, but FAA officials told GAO that FAA cannot verify that small UAS were involved in most of the sightings. Officials explained that small UAS are often difficult for pilots to identify definitively and typically are not picked up by radar. Such data limitations impede the agency’s ability to effectively assess the safety of small UAS operations. FAA is taking steps to improve its data. For example, it is developing a web-based system for the public to report any sightings of UAS that are perceived to be a safety concern and a survey of UAS users on their UAS operational activity.

FAA did not have time frames for completing these efforts, but according to FAA, each of the efforts is underway and at varying stages of development. FAA is also evaluating technologies for detecting and remotely identifying UAS, and that could improve data on unsafe use.