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Fireworks Flight Debrief

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

The briefing you need to fly during emergencies when you need a waiver. Applies to both Part 107 and COA pilots.

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

This Special Process for Emergency Operations, is often referred to as the Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process, or eCOA process.

The FAA has established an expedited special process for organizations responding to emergencies, who cannot fully comply with their existing Certificate of Authorization (or COA) or Part 107 regulations for that operation

The operations must directly support an active homeland security, law enforcement, or emergency operations effort, or some other response, relief, or recovery activity benefiting a critical public good – for example, restoration of an electrical grid or some other critical infrastructure, or media coverage of a natural disaster

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

It’s important to remember: if you can comply with Part 107 or your COA, you may operate without going through the SGI process.

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

This Special Governmental Interest process is designed to facilitate safe and compliant emergency operations by any Part 107 or Public Aircraft entity who serves a legitimate public interest, and who cannot already FULLY comply with the existing regulations, their existing waivers, or airspace authorizations

Typical users of this process are public safety, utilities, insurance companies, railroads, Departments of Transportation, Incident Command, Resource Management, Departments of Environmental Quality, Accident investigators, or Media reporting on an event of public interest.

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Remember, if you can fly in full compliance with Part 107 or your existing COA, go fly. No need to call.

  • You must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot or have an existing civil or public COA
  • If there is a TFR established, such as during a natural disaster, you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot, AND have the support of the on-scene commander on the ground before you submit your application.
  • For recreational flyers – this process is not available to you – you need to get your Part 107: the reasons are: Congress created an exemption for limited recreational use, and emergency UAS operations are definitely not recreational activity, and secondly, given the likelihood for interaction with manned aviation, the UAS pilots really need to know and comply with the aviation regulations for the safety of everyone involved, and these rules are extensive

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

These are just a few examples of emergencies that qualify for the special process.

Weather is perhaps one of the biggest reasons a RPIC might need a temporary, emergency waiver using the SGI process. Remember that both Part 107 and a COA dictate that the weather must be better than 3SM visibility and cloud ceilings must be at least 500 feet above the highest altitude of the intended flight. Many emergencies occur in bad weather and that’s the time to call the SOSC and request a SGI waiver.

Remember… failing to plan for a training mission, is not an emergency.

Now, let’s talk about the information we need to make this happen for you.

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

This shows the SGI form that the Systems Operation Support Center, or SOSC, will need from you when you make the request.

The first two sections should be pre-filled out and ready to go.

  • Identify Operator, Pilot and Visual Observer contact information: Name, Office, Mobile Number (if there are multiple pilots or observers you will need to provide information for each person)
  • We strongly suggest pre-filling in this information so you are ready in an emergency
  • Consider laminating the form for use in the field, and having hard and electronic copies available with the RPICs and dispatchers as appropriate
  • Note the RPIC must be certificated, and you must show proof with their RPIC certificate number under Part 107

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Identify proposed flight details: date(s), times, location, distance and direction, class(es) of airspace, and requested altitude (explain to users how they can find and properly fill in this information)

NOTE: many confuse the latitude and longitude information and sometimes use decimals instead of degrees, minutes, and seconds. It’s important to tell the SOSC if you are using decimals rather than degrees, minutes, and seconds so they convert to the correct grid to pinpoint your location. The FAA uses degrees, minutes, and seconds, and assumes the RPIC is also using degrees, minutes, and seconds, FYI Precious time can be lost trying to sort this out if not done correctly

Identify your requested altitude.

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Public Safety Drone Flying During Emergencies – Instructions

Let’s talk about some ways to make the process go smoother or quicker…

  • Don’t wait for an emergency, start now!
  • As mentioned before, have your form filled in with the first two sections (so you can get the application done faster in an emergency)
  • You don’t want to be scrambling for phone numbers and contact information during an emergency
  • If you’re going to hire drone operators, vet and pre-qualify contractor operators ahead of time, to speed approval.
  • If you are Part107, consider applying for your 107.29 (daylight operations) waiver now. If you’re a public operator, get your blanket COA now. Don’t wait. – explain why you would want these things!
  • If you can fly in full compliance with Part 107 or your existing COA, go fly. No need to call.
  • Help us get the word out to your colleagues who aren’t aware of the regulations and process.
  • Email [email protected] and identify what you’re trying to do, and our Help Desk will connect you with the right resources.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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