Checklist After an Ag Pilot-UAV Encounter
If you or a pilot of yours has a near-miss encounter with a UAV or, worse, is hit by one, undoubtedly one of the main things going through your mind after the initial shock subsides is what to do and who to call to report the encounter. NAAA has prepared a handy checklist of steps to take after a UAV encounter. Follow these steps.
1. Inform Local Law Enforcement
When informing local authorities about the unsafe operation of a UAV, it is important to contact the enforcement body with jurisdiction over the area where the offense occurred. Call them immediately after the incident. Remember, local law enforcement agencies are not aviation experts, so be sure to provide them with ample and accurate information on why the operation was unsafe or illegal.
2. Report it to the FAA National Safety Hotline
After safely landing, you should report the incident by calling the FAA Safety Hotline at 1-800-255-1111 or online at hotline.faa.gov. This contact is a single avenue for anyone from FAA employees to concerned citizens to file a report regarding violations of federal aviation regulations or the safety of the national airspace.
3. Call your Local Flight Standards Office (FSO)
Your local Flight Standards Office (FSO, formerly called FSDO) consists of aviation officials who should be more intimately familiar with your airspace. Make sure the person taking the report understands you believe a violation of the FARs has occurred. However, due to personnel shortages it might take some time for an investigation to be completed.
4. File a NASA Aviation Safety Report
The primary purpose of a NASA aviation safety report is to collect data related to the national airspace to reduce aviation accidents and incidents. Your confidential and non-punitive report will go directly into the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), ensuring your experience will be used as data to contribute to aviation safety. The incident information can be recorded on the General Report Form for electronic submission, or the form can be printed for completion and mailing by U.S. mail.
5. Tell Other Pilots
Whether it’s through social media, message boards, email or word of mouth, let other pilots in your area know when and where the UAV was flying. While pilots should always maintain alertness when it comes to avoiding other aircraft and obstacles, highlighting your UAV encounter can help other pilots maintain some extra situational awareness when flying in the area the incident occurred should the UAV operator return to fly in that same area again.
Share your encounter and safety concerns with the local media to inform the non-piloting public of these same concerns. Perhaps this will remind some UAV operators of the need for caution around manned aircraft operating at lower altitudes. Notifying ag media about your UAV encounter will help get the story out to the ag community.
6. Notify Local News Media and Ag Trade Press
7. Inform Your Customers, Ag Retailers and Crop Consultants
A UAV encounter is a teachable moment. Let farmers, ag retailers and crop consultants in the area know about the incident, including when and where it occurred and what the UAV operator should have done as the ag pilot approached the same airspace. If you intend to notify them in writing, include NAAA’s UAV Safety Stuffers with the notice. The safety stuffers are a great way to inform farmers and other agricultural stakeholders about ag pilots’ safety concerns and share best practices on how to operate UAVs safely in rural areas. Contact NAAA at (202) 546-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org to order your UAV Safety Stuffers, which are free to members. Visit the UAV Safety Stuffers page for more information.
8. Contact Your Insurance Agent if ...
In the event physical damage is done to your aircraft, contact your insurance agent. The company will ensure repairs are made to the aircraft in accordance with your policy. There is a possibility the insurance company could pursue action against the parties that may be liable for the loss.
In addition to the UAV encounter checklist, NAAA is always available for additional assistance in the event of a UAV encounter with an ag aircraft. Contact NAAA at (202) 546-5722.