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FAA Scrutinizing Aviation-Related Videos

Images Captured Using UAVs Of Particular Interest

With an escalating number of videos or other electronic media posted to the Internet which depict aviation-related activities the FAA has noted in a recent policy notice that some of the posted videos may depict operations that are contrary to 14 CFR, statute, or safe operating practices.

The policy notice is intended to provide guidance to aviation safety inspectors (ASI) regarding actions to be taken when notified of videos or other electronic media posted to the Internet depicting the operation of aircraft in the National Airspace System (NAS) that may be contrary to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) or statutes.

The agency says that ASIs and other AFS personnel are expected to use critical thinking when addressing electronic media showing such activity. The FAA will use education to encourage voluntary compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements when appropriate. However, the FAA will use administrative action or legal enforcement action to gain compliance if such action is necessary to maintain safety within the NAS.

UAS videos, in particular, are increasingly appearing on the Internet. UAS videos may depict aircraft being flown in a variety of classes of airspace and at varying altitudes. Inspectors are to follow the protocol below when receiving notification of videos with potentially noncompliant UAS operations posted to the Internet. The FAA says the notice provides an outline and protocol for inspectors when initiating educational outreach.

If "educational outreach" is ineffective in gaining compliance, the UAS operator is noncompliant or uncooperative, or the UAS operation resulted in a medium to high potential or actual endangerment to the NAS, the inspector is to continue their investigation as outlined in previous policies.

Videos and other electronic media captured while flying in manned aircraft are also being watched.

In all cases, the notice says, the FAA must have acceptable evidence in support of all alleged facts in order to take legal enforcement action.

Inspectors are reminded that:

  • Electronic media posted on the Internet is only one form of evidence which may be used to support an enforcement action and it must be authenticated.
  • Electronic media posted on the Internet is ordinarily not sufficient evidence alone to determine that an operation is not in compliance with 14 CFR; however, electronic media may serve as evidence of possible violations and may be retained for future enforcement action.
  • Inspectors have no authority to direct or suggest that electronic media posted on the Internet must be removed.

The agency notes that electronic media posted on a video Web site does not automatically constitute a commercial operation or commercial purpose, or other non-hobby or non-recreational use.

Until further notice, the FAA says the above procedures are in effect for gathering videos or other electronic media on the Internet as evidence and interpreting the status of a website that contains electronic media relevant to an investigation.

FMI: Notice

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