drone certificationFAA encourage drone pilots to anonymously report incidents

July 17, 2021by helo-10

The FAA is trying to raise awareness among drone pilots about NASA’s CALLBACK Aviation Safety Reporting system, which allows drone pilots (and others) to anonymously submit safety-related incidents. The database also allows you to view other submitted incidents, hopefully allowing readers to learn from the mistakes of others.

Let’s say you lost your Command and Control link, and your drone simply flew away. Or maybe you slammed your FPV into the side of a vehicle or building. Incidents like these do happen. But it’s like that old saying: ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ Well, obviously it does. But if a drone incident occurs and it’s not reported, no one can learn from it.

That’s why the Federal Aviation Administration is urging pilots to report incidents through NASA’s CALLBACK system.

Drone pilots can submit to CALLBACK anonymously

That’s one of the key takeaways for people concerned that the FAA might come after them for an incident that qualifies as a violation. You can submit anonymously to the program.

The FAA also points out that submissions cannot be used to pursue charges for violations. They are simply to give everyone a bigger picture of what’s happening out there…and to let others hear the sound of that tree falling in the forest:

Section 91.25 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 91.25) prohibits reports filed with NASA from being used for FAA enforcement purposes. This report will not be made available to the FAA for civil penalty or certificate actions for violations of the Federal Air Regulations. Your identity strip, stamped by NASA, is proof that you have submitted a report to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. We can only return the strip to you if you have provided a mailing address. Equally important, we can often obtain additional useful information if our safety analysts can talk with you directly by telephone. For this reason, we have requested telephone numbers where we may reach you.

CALLBACK is not just for drone pilots

CALLBACK is part of a wider NASA system used to gather information about relevant incidents. There are specific sections for aircraft pilots, crew, maintenance people and others to report. This is a screengrab from the NASA page, so if you want the actual live links, go to this page.

FAA encourages reporting to NASA’s CALLBACK

This popped up on our radar thanks to the always-informative FAA Drone Zone Twitter account. We highly recommend that drone pilots give this account a follow; it’s always first when it comes to regulatory information that drone pilots should know about. Here’s the Tweet that got us on this story:

DroneDJ’s take

Data is important. And the reporting of drone incidents where something went wrong is a very positive thing. We encourage pilots to report incidents, starting right on this page.

Remember: Even if you did something wrong, or witnessed someone else doing something that resulted in an incident, reporting will not result in charges. And it will help everyone, including drone pilots who subscribe to CALLBACK’s regular newsletter reports. You can also download a report about UAS incidents here. And while it’s a little dated, it’s worth reading.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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