NCDOT Establishes Best Practices for Drone Use in Disaster Response Wednesday, March 22, 2017

RALEIGH – Whether conducting a search and rescue operation for a lost hiker or assisting public agencies during a major flood event, drones can play an essential role during emergency response. The N.C. Department of Transportation has established best practices and recommended policies for agencies using drones in these situations. The final report was released after NCDOT’s Division of Aviation held a workshop with emergency management personnel from around the state in January.

“The exercise produced several key findings and recommendations that support the immediate, safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System,” said Aviation Division Director Bobby Walston. “This will make our state’s public agencies more effective as drone operations become more routine.”

Experts say some advantages of using drones in disaster response include:

  • Navigating unreachable locations more closely and easily compared to larger aircraft;
  • Providing a quicker response time;
  • Taking away the human risk that can come with operating larger aircraft; and
  • Conducting search and rescue less expensively.

By N.C. General Statute, NCDOT’s Division of Aviation has a mission to promote aviation safety and is leading statewide drone education and training through a series of exercises and workshops. 

“The need for this type of exercise has never been stronger,” said Walston. “Ensuring the use of this technology is properly coordinated is top priority in guaranteeing operations are conducted safely and effectively.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive authority over the use of airspace in the United States, including the airspace used by drones. NCDOT has authority to implement and manage regulations that pertain to state laws concerning operations within North Carolina.


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