FAA news

Pilots of unmanned aircraft (drones) who interfere with fighting wildfires, law enforcement efforts, or other first responders, such as medical flights, now are more likely to face serious civil penalties, even for first-time offenses.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided guidance for agency personnel who handle possible drone violations to refer all cases involving interference with first responders to the FAA Chief Counsels office for possible enforcement action.

In July 2016, Congress authorized the FAA to impose a civil penalty of not more than $20,000 for anyone who operates a drone and deliberately or recklessly interferes with wildfire suppression, law enforcement, or emergency response efforts.

Under FAA guidance, inspectors generally use non-enforcement methods, including education, for correcting unintentional violations that arise from factors such as flawed systems, simple mistakes, or lack of understanding. However, given the potential for direct and immediate interference with potentially life-saving operations where minutes matter, offenders will immediately be considered for enforcement actions. Enforcement actions can include revocation or suspension of a pilot certificate, and up to a $20,000 civil penalty per violation.

Deterring interference with first responders is critical, particularly as drone use expands exponentially. Firefighting aircraft trying to contain a wildfire have to suspend flights when a drone enters the area to avoid a possible mid-air collision. A drone flying over a crime scene or accident site can hamper police or medical aircraft operations. Ultimately, interference by a drone can cost lives.

The FAAs rules for flying unmanned aircraft are clear. Pilots can save themselves and others serious problems by following them to the letter. Dont let your decision to fly cause someone else to die.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has signed separate agreements with Brazils Agncia Nacional de Aviao Civil (ANAC) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) that will make it easier to approve each countrys aircraft and aviation products for their growing aviation markets.

For many years, the FAA and Brazils ANAC have been cooperating to enhance aviation safety, security, and other areas. Brazil is a member of the quadrilateral Certification Management Team (CMT). They have responsibility for Embraer, the preeminent Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.

The first FAA-ANAC Implementation Procedures Agreement (IPA) was signed in September 2006, with two amendments thereafter, most recently in February 2016. The revision signed today expands the IPA to include Part 23 (General Aviation Aircraft) and provides risk based decision criteria for the U.S. and Brazil to validate each others aviation products.

The latest revision maximizes reliance on each countrys certification authorities and reduces redundant validation activities and resources. It also more closely aligns the IPA with the bilateral agreements of the other CMT partners (the European Union and Canada). The ANAC IPA revision has a 3-month implementation period, which provides much-needed time to familiarize all stakeholders with its content.

The FAA and TCCA also continued their long tradition of cooperation. The two agencies signed a Shared Surveillance Management Plan that defines the process by which they recognize each others surveillance of manufacturers and their suppliers in the United States and Canada.

The Plan ensures manufacturers, certificate holders, production approval holders and suppliers are complying with the responsible countries applicable regulatory requirements. The plan requires manufacturers to comply with an approved quality system and ensure their subcontractors and suppliers also meet the applicable requirements and adhere to quality standards

The result will be less need for FAA and TCCA aviation inspectors to travel to each others facilities to do surveillance. Previously this was done on a case-by-case basis.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) communitys national #FlySafe campaign helps educate GA pilots about the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.

Staying Safe on Approach
In a recent 10-year period, there were more than 1,200 fatal loss-of-control accidents. Many of those events occurred in the approach phase of flight, and many of those accidents resulted from an unstabilized approach or a failure to go around.

Stabilized approaches are important. A constant speed and consistent descent rate will get you to a smooth landing.

For instrument approaches, you will want to be stabilized no lower than 1,000 feet above the runway, on the correct flight path to touchdown. Youll want to maintain the glideslope if youre landing on a precision approach runway, or not more than a 1,000 foot per minute rate of descent for non-precision approaches.

Youre stable if you have to make only small corrections in pitch, heading and power to maintain the path. If the wind is gusting, you can add some speed to compensate, but no more than half of the gust factor.

If youre not stable by the time you descend to 1,000 feet, youll want to go around and set up a more stable approach.

Changes For VFR
Visual flight rules (VFR) approaches are very similar, except that you can get a little closer to the ground before making a go-around decision. If you are flying a pattern, you need to be stable on final, in landing configuration with the landing checklist complete. If youre not ready by 500 feet, go around.

Speed Dangers
Excessive speed, high altitude and the need to maneuver can all contribute to a de-stabilized approach.

If you enter the pattern at 150 knots or just above stall speed, or 1,000 feet above pattern altitude, your stabilized approach will be difficult.

If the pattern is busy, you may feel pressure, even from ATC, to land before you are ready. If thats the case, exercise your pilot-in-command responsibility, say unable and go around.

Theres nothing wrong with saying unable. Its better to be safe.

When to Go Around

  • If youre at or below 1,000 feet instrument flight rules, or 500 feet visual flight rules, and your approach isnt stable, its time to go around.
  • If your runway is out of service, or if traffic on the runway wont be clear before you get there, go around!

The earlier you make the decision to go around, the easier it will be. Stick with your decision. Changing your mind will lead to destabilization and a difficult recovery.


  • Plan to miss or go around. Know where and when youll make the decision.
  • Pre-set your frequencies. Set your navigation and communications radios ahead of time.
  • Manage distractions. Maintain a sterile cockpit.
  • Practice missed approaches and go-arounds. Fly a missed approach at least once every quarter. Go around, re-enter the pattern and practice collision avoidance.
  • Seek regular refresher training.

Message from Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell:

The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on FAA.gov, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts some of which are already reducing risk. I hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.

More about Loss of Control:

Contributing factors may include:

  • Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Did you know?

  • From October 2016 through September 2017, 247 people died in 209 general aviation accidents.
  • Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight.It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.

Learn more:

This FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Fact Sheet has more information about maneuvering flight.

Chapter 8 of the FAAs Airplane Flying Handbook features approaches and landings, including stabilized approach and go-around.

This Stabilized Approach and Go Around presentation from the NTSB Loss of Control Series has parameters, tips and tricks.

Time is getting short!!The FAAs Equip ADS-B website gives you the information you need to equip now.

Curious about FAA regulations (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations)? Its a good idea to stay on top of them. You can find current FAA regulations on this website.

The FAASafety.gov website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars, and more on key general aviation safety topics.

The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements. It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning drone owners and operators they may face significant fines if they interfere with emergency response operations in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence.

Many aircraft that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes over areas affected by the storm. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.

Government agencies with an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) or flying under Part 107, as well as private sector Part 107 drone operators who want to support response and recovery operations, are strongly encouraged to coordinate their activities with the local incident commander responsible for the area in which they want to operate.

If drone operators need to fly in controlled airspace or a disaster TFR to support the response and recovery, operators must contact the FAAs System Operations Support Center (SOSC) by emailing 9-ATOR-HQ-SOSC@faa.gov the information they need to authorize access to the airspace. Coordination with the SOSC may also include a requirement that a drone operator obtain support from the appropriate incident commander.

Heres the information the FAA may require:

  • the unmanned aircraft type
  • a PDF copy of a current FAA COA
  • the pilots Part 107 certificate number
  • details about the proposed flight (date, time, location, altitude, direction and distance to the nearest airport, and latitude/longitude)
  • nature of the event (fire, law enforcement, local/national disaster, missing person) and the pilots qualification information.

The Federal Aviation Administration closely monitors forecasted hurricanes and severe weather events and prepares FAA facilities and equipment to withstand storm damage. We prepare and protect air traffic control facilities along the projected storm path so we can quickly resume operations after the hurricane passes. Enabling flights to resume quickly is critical to support disaster relief efforts.

Commercial Travelers
Because of Hurricane Florence, airlines are likely to cancel many flights in the direct path of the storm and the surrounding areas. Flights that are not cancelled may be delayed. Once Hurricane Florence makes ground fall, airports may be listed as open but flooding on local roadways may limit access to airports for passengers, as well as the employees who work for the airlines or at the airport. As a result, every aspect of your trip to the airport, including parking, checking in, getting through security and boarding may take longer than usual.

As always, check with airlines about the status of your flight before you leave for the airport. Major carriers provide flight status updates on their website:

Please continue to check the status of your flight with your airline, not the FAA. You can also check the status of some major airports in the storm path by visiting Fly.FAA.gov, which is updated regularly. You can also check current travel advisories provided by most U.S. airlines.

Air Traffic Control
FAA control towers in hurricane-prone areas are designed and built to sustain hurricane force winds. Each control tower has a maximum wind sustainability. When the winds approach that level, controllers evacuate the tower cabs. They may remain in the building on duty in a secure lower level, and are ready to go back to work as soon as the storm passes.

We also protect communications equipment and navigational aids to the greatest extent possible. As the storm approaches, we disable airport surveillance radar antennas to allow them to spin freely, minimizing potential wind damage. This limits damage to the antenna motors and allows radar coverage to resume quickly after the storm passes.

Drone Users
The FAA warns drone operators that they will be subject to significant fines that may exceed $20,000 and civil penalties if they interfere with emergency response operations. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.

General Aviation Pilots
Standard check lists are even more important in and around severe weather. Be aware of weather conditions throughout the entire route of your planned flight. A pilots failure to recognize deteriorating weather conditions continues to cause or contribute to accidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA), and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) dedicated the newAir Traffic Control Tower at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport today.The 128 foot-tall tower is a significant investment in our nations airport infrastructure and enhances air traffic controllers ability to provide the safest, most efficient service to flights at the busy Florida airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is proud to celebrate the new tower and our working together with the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority and Florida Department of Transportation. The new facility will provide our controllers with greater visibility of the airfield and our investment in technology will enhance their ability to provide safe and efficient air traffic services for the Sarasota Bradenton community, said Michael OHarra, Regional Administrator, FAA Southern Region.

The FAA, SMAA and FDOT funded the $24.8 million facility under a unique agreement. The FAA invested $7.2 million in the new tower design, engineering and electronic equipment, which the agency installed and will maintain. SMAA funded $8.9 million for construction and it will own and maintain the building. FDOT also contributed $8.7 million for tower construction. The facility includes a 9,000-square-foot base building that houses equipment, administrative offices and training rooms. The new facility includes an updated voice communications system, radio transmitter and flight data processor, which controllers use to communicate with other FAA facilities and the airport.

The Airport Authority is proud to have partnered with the FAA and FDOT on this unique opportunity to build a new air traffic control tower. SRQ aviation users, and the local community will benefit from having this new state-of-the-art facility, saidRick Piccolo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

Air traffic controllers working in the 525 square-foot tower cab handle flights within a 10-mile radius of the airport up to 4,000 feet in altitude.In 2017, the tower handled 104,540 takeoffs and landings.

A total of 34 FAA employees work at the new facility, 20 in air traffic and 14 in technical operations, which maintains the FAA electronics equipment in the tower and on the airfield.