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NTSB Investigation May be Required!

Apr 19, 2015
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Rocklin, CA
Did you know that UAS (drone) accidents may need to be reported immediately to the NTSB and may be investigated? (http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/process/Documents/NTSB-Advisory-Drones.pdf)

Per U.S. 49 C.F.R. § Part 830, a civil unmanned aerial system (UAS, a.k.a. drone) operator (other than for hobby or recreation use) must immediately and by the most expeditious means, notify the NTSB of an accident or incident in which (1) Any person suffers death or serious injury; or (2) The aircraft has a maximum grow takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage.

However, regardless of UAS weight, UAS operators must consider that the rest of the reporting requirements for serious incidents listed in section 830.5 apply. Listed serious incidents that apply to all UAS include the following events:
  • Flight control system malfunction or failure: For an unmanned aircraft, a true “fly-away” would qualify. A lost link that behaves as expected does not qualify.
  • Inability of any required flight crewmember to perform normal flight duties as a result of injury or illness. Examples of required flight crewmembers include the pilot, remote pilot; or visual observer if required by regulation. This does not include an optional payload operator.
  • Inflight fire.
  • Aircraft collision in flight.
  • More than $25,000 in damage to objects other than the aircraft.
  • Release of all or a portion of a propeller blade from an aircraft.
  • Damage to helicopter tail or main rotor blades, including ground damage, that requires major repair or replacement of the blade(s).
Below are examples of potential events.
  • A small multirotor UAS has a fly-away and crashes into a tree, destroying the aircraft: Not an accident, (though substantial damage, too small, and no injuries), but the operator is required to notify the NTSB of a flight control malfunction. NTSB may initiate an investigation and report with a determination of probable cause.
  • A small multirotor UAS has a fly-away and strikes a bystander causing serious injury: Accident (resulted in serious injury). The operator is required to immediately notify the NTSB. The NTSB must investigate the accident and determine a probable cause.
  • A small multirotor UAS hits a tree due to pilot inattention on a windy day: Not an Accident (too small, even if substantial damage). However, the operator is required to notify the NTSB if other criteria of 830.5 are met. NTSB may initiate an investigation and report with a determination of probable cause.
According to 830.2: Serious injury means any injury which: (1) Requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received; (2) results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose); (3) causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle, or tendon damage; (4) involves any internal organ; or (5) involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface. Substantial damage means damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.

Sidebar... Part 830 does not apply to hobby or recreational instances. UAS pilots must be approved by the FAA however to fly missions in the "furtherance of a business," i.e., profit-making, commercial purposes.

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