All U.S. Drone Operators Have Guidance Now

Drone operators, in both public safety and outside of it, now have standards to follow in two key pieces of vetted guidance prepared by academics, industry and aviation organizations.

While the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC) and the Airborne Law Enforcement Association released standards for the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by public safety agencies in October 2017, drone operators outside of the public domain still needed some guidance.

To address safety concerns about drone operations, the Aviators Code Initiative and University Aviation Association partners have published "a set of principles and practices to help a pilot interpret and apply standards and regulations, and confront real world challenges and avoid mishaps," according to the recent announcement.

Mishaps like the North Fire that started on July 17, 2015. Amateur drone operators wanting video halted firefighters in dropping fire retardents on the dangerous blaze.

“The UAS Pilots Code is a handbook that bridges the gap between manned aviation and aspiring drone pilots,” said Brandon Montellato of unmanned vehicle manufacturer DJI, according to the related Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announcement.

While the PSAAC drone operations standards were partially intended to provide assurance to the civilian community that public safety agencies are operating drones safely and ethically, all drone operators "bear the same obligation to operate safely as do manned pilots for whom training and safety programs are well defined and rigorously implemented," according to sUAS News.

Embry-Riddle faculty, along with industry and government groups specializing in drones, helped draft the UAS Pilots Code for both experienced and new drone users.

It is a must-read for drone pilots seeking to learn and operate safely in the national airspace,” said Montellato.

Similar to the PSAAC standards for public safety drone operators, which contains five sections on tactical, legal and ethical use, the UAS Pilots Code is organized into seven sections:

  • General Responsibilities of UAS Pilots
  • Manned Aircraft and People on the Surface
  • Training and Proficiency
  • Security and Privacy
  • Environmental Issues
  • Use of Technology
  • Advancement of UAS Aviation

The code, which is to be updated periodically, is available in three versions, annotated, condensed and abbreviated version.

Access the UAS Pilots Code on

Review the PSAAC guidance on

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