Think Before You Launch (TBYL) is an awareness campaign founded by an alliance of both UAS and Aviation stakeholders interested in improving aviation safety, while educating users about the safe and responsible operation and integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
OUR MISSION is to raise awareness by educating manned and unmanned aircraft operators about hazards associated with the low-altitude environment in order to prevent accidents and improve safety while encouraging coordination and legitimate use of UAS.
Small unmanned aircraft are essentially invisible to manned aircraft operating in the 0-400 ft airspace.
Police and First Responder aircraft include helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Due to the unpredictable nature of their operations, these aircraft often fly unplanned routes around populated areas, increasing their chances of sharing airspace with unmanned aircraft. The odds of encountering these aircraft are also higher around emergencies – such as natural disasters, fires, and car accidents – and crime scenes.
Birds can pose a significant safety hazard to manned and large unmanned aircraft, resulting in damage to the plane or even loss of life. Birds have been known to attack small unmanned aircraft, highlighting the importance of being sensitive to wildlife in the area where you are flying.
Aerial firefighting involves large air tankers, smaller Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) aircraft, helicopters, and command and control aircraft flying together in a very dynamic, dangerous environment. With pilots focusing on performing their mission without hitting trees, mountains, or each other, it's critical for nonparticipants to stay away from these areas. In fact, the FAA will often establish Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) to prevent other aircraft – both manned and unmanned – from interfering.
Aerial Application, or "crop dusting," utilizes helicopters and airplanes to seed, fertilize, and protect crops, rangeland, forests, and public health from weeds, insects, and diseases. These aircraft operate at altitudes as low as 10 feet and routinely transit between sites below 400 feet. The work is weather-dependent, making it difficult to know the flight plan until just before takeoff. Aerial Application aircraft can be found flying over farmland, open rangeland (including private, state, and federal lands), forests, waterways, and even the ocean for oil spill clean ups or to feed fish.
General aviation (GA) is all civilian flying except scheduled passenger airlines. GA flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to corporate business jet flights. Many GA flights operate under visual flight rules (VFR) and routinely fly at altitudes of 1000 feet above ground level (AGL). GA aircraft often transit the airspace between 0-400 feet AGL, particularly in the vicinity of airports. It is important for unmanned aircraft users to be aware, and remain clear, of these GA aircraft at all times.
News organizations operate helicopters under visual flight rules and routinely fly at altitudes of 500-1,000 feet above ground level (AGL). Routinely, these helicopters operate the airspace between 0-400 feet AGL while they are actively reporting the news. It is important for unmanned aircraft users to be aware, and remain clear, of these news reporting aircraft at all times to prevent mid-air collisions.
Even a micro unmanned aircraft (under 4.4 lbs.) can cause extreme damage and put lives in danger.
Make Sure You're Always Prepared
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If you're a first-time UAS owner or a seasoned operator, Think Before You Launch is your source for safety information, links to additional UAS sites and resources for education and risk management. We encourage you to ask questions, provide feedback and be an active participant as we shape the future of small unmanned aircraft use.