Sacramento Drone Pilots Survey Results

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RESULTS AND RELEVANT RESOURCES FROM A SURVEY OF DRONE PILOTS IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, DECEMBER 2016

In early Deember 2016, Drone Pilots Federation sent a short survey request to all of our members in the Sacramento region.  Our sincere thanks to everyone who responded.  We had approximately 20% of people respond, which is much higher than expected or typical for email surveys. 

Below we share the results and provide some relevant resources on the topics that were asked.  We conclude with a note about how we intend to use the information gained from the survey.

Question 1: 42% of you consider yourselves professional drone pilots.  The other 58% consider yourselves a recreational pilot. 

Question 2: 67% said you have registered your outdoor drones with the FAA. While it is encouraging that this is a strong majority, we want to remind you that current federal law (through FAA authority & regulation) requires that EVERY DRONE over 0.55 lbs that flies in outdoor airspace (which is a federal asset, thus under the authority of the FAA) BE REGISTERED, regardless of purpose or use. 

It only costs $5 and takes a few minutes. FAA registration gives your drone a unique "N" number, which FAA regulations say must be displayed clearly and legibly on the aircraft.  Aside from the potential fines which may be imposed if you happen to find yourself in an enforcement scenario (reason enough to quickly invest the $5), proving you have your drone registered with the FAA is powerful leverage if and when you are approached by someone else asking about your drone operations.  That other person could be another citizen, a law enforcement officer, or a government employee.  If you haven't registered your drones yet, do that here: https://registermyuas.faa.gov/

3. 29% of you said you have your Part 107 license or an older 333 Exemption.  While that is a very impressive percentage of our respondents, it means many of you who consider yourselves professional pilots are still working toward that goal.  Legally, per the Part 107 law that went into effect in August 2016, the new Remote Pilot license is required to operate drones commercially unless you have one of those prior 333 exemptions. 

There are many options for studying and preparing for the Part 107 exam.  Before you invest in any courses, be sure to explore all of the resources provided as a "free" public service by the FAA (thanks to our tax dollars) on this page: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_work_business/becoming_a_pilot/.

It should be noted, however, that the FAA Part 107 exam is only a knowledge test. There is no "practical" or skills-based testing (i.e. flying a drone).  If you want a reputable local option to provide comprehensive training for both knowledge AND flying, even if you don't have your own drone yet, check out Drone University USA: https://droneuniversityusa.com/small-uav-commercial-operator-level-1-course/. Their owners are also members of Drone Pilots Federation. After meeting with them to learn about their school, we are happy to endorse them to our other local members and the regional drone community.

4. 45% of you said you either have insurance for your drone flying or you purchase it on demand.  17% of you said you weren't sure if your current policies cover drone operations.  That leaves 38% of you who said you don't purchase insurance.  These results concern us, on your behalf. 

While we enthusiastically understand and appreciate how much modern drone technology has opened up the opportunities for fun and rewarding activities, they also expose each of us to significant legal and financial liabilities.  This is true even when we are flying "just for fun."  We urge each of you to consider the worst case scenario as you are flying your drone in your yard, nearby park, or flying field.  Do your homework to learn if your existing insurance policies include coverage for this activity.  If it doesn't (and that is probably true in your case), find and purchase insurance appropriate for your needs. 

Assisting our members with reliable and affordable insurance is one topic under consideration with DPF.  If you need or want help with this yourself -- and would rather not wait for future services or recommendations from us -- please contact us through our CONTACT page.

Our last question was meant to measure interest in a future meeting focused on commercial drone pilot interests.  The overwhelming response was positive, with 92% of you answering either you would consider it or "definitely yes" you would attend.

We will be using these results to plan our next event for drone pilots in the Sacramento region. We also plan to use these results to tailor our communications to members and update our website with valuable links and information. 

To be notified about these updates, if you aren't a member of Drone Pilots Federation join today by clicking on that link.  Membership is currently free of charge.  DPF is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization with members in over 35 countries as of December 2016.

Be safe, stay sharp, and have fun as you pursue your efforts with drones.