Careless or Reckless Operation


  • No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another
    • This applies to both air and ground operations
  • No person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crew-member in the performance of the crew member's duties aboard an aircraft being operated
  • Additionally, minimum safe altitudes are established to provide a buffer in the event of emergency

Dropping Objects:

  • B-2 Dropping Bombs
    B-2 Dropping Ordnance
  • No pilot in command of a civil aircraft or small Unmanned Aircraft System may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property
  • Neither FAR 91.15 or FAR 107.23 prohibits the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property
  • B-2 Dropping Bombs
    B-2 Dropping Ordnance

Minimum Safe Altitudes:

  • Minimum safe altitudes incorporate three key components:
    • Emergency landing considerations
    • Vertical distance
    • Horizontal distance
  • Consider the Maximum Elevation Figure (MEF) for any area you're operating within
    • flying at the MEF guarantees you a minimum of 100' of clearance from all-terrain and obstacles in the quadrant
  • Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below:
    • Anywhere:

      • An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface
    • Over Congested Areas:

      • Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft (except for takeoff and landing)
      • Note that congested areas may be determined on a case-by-case basis
      • UAS Flight Over or Near People and Vehicles:

        • Remote pilots and recreational flyers should carefully consider the hazards of flight operations over or near people. 14 CFR Part 107, subpart D, Operations Over Human Beings, allows certain Operations Over People (OOP) and vehicles, based upon four different operational categories of UA weight and construction, and the likely severity of injury to people on the ground, in the case of contact. Part 107 operators may request a waiver to these restrictions
        • Part 91 remote pilots may refer to restrictions and permissions, regarding flight over people, in their respective COAs
        • Recreational flyers should consider the safety of other persons when flying. 49 USC 44809(a)(2), Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft, requires recreational flyers to operate in accordance with the safety guidelines of an accepted CBO; these guidelines will usually include safety precautions for flight near people
        • For further information on the rules for flying over people or vehicles, see paragraph 11−4−6, Airspace Restrictions to Flight
        • Reference: 14 CFR Part 107, Subpart D, Operations Over Human Beings, 49 USC 44809(a)(2), Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft
    • Over Other Than Congested Areas:

      • An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas
        • In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle (car or airplane), or structure
        • Legal interpretations suggests pilots must remain 500 feet from man-made items such as runway lighting and windsocks
    • Helicopters, Powered Parachutes, and Weight-Shift-Control Aircraft:

      • If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface:
        • A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed above, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and
        • A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure
    • Minimum Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Altitudes:

      • No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft over a human being unless that human being is:
        • Directly participating in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft; or
        • Located under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle that can provide reasonable protection from a falling small unmanned aircraft
    • While specified distances and altitudes may be used to establish minimum safe altitudes, with the exception of what is necessary for takeoff and landing, also consider the suitability of the landing site, as many have been found in violation of FAR 91.119 because they should not have been landing where they chose (field, taxiway, etc.)
  • Unmanned Flight in the Vicinity of Manned Aircraft:

    • The pilot of any unmanned aircraft operation retains the ultimate responsibility to avoid manned aircraft traffic. UAS operators should remember that manned aircraft may fly below 400 feet AGL; examples include Other Information and Best Practices 11−8−1AIM 4/20/23 helicopters, agricultural aircraft, light civil aircraft, and military aircraft. UAS pilots must ensure they have unblocked visual access to both their UAS and the airspace around it; not seeing a manned aircraft due to blocked line of sight does not absolve the UAS pilot from responsibility for avoidance
    • Should public safety or emergency responder aircraft (e.g., police, fire suppression, helicopter emergency medical services) operations be interfered with by UAS, substantial fines can be levied on the UAS operators involved. Enforcement actions can include revocation or suspension of a pilot certificate, and up to a $20,000 civil penalty per violation

Maximum Safe Altitudes:

  • Maximum Small Unmanned Aircraft System Altitudes:

    • The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:
      • Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and
      • Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure's immediate uppermost limit

Jettisoning Fuel:

  • ATC must be advised if fuel dumping is to take place
  • Whenever practicable, fuel shall not be jettisoned (dumped) below an altitude of 6,000' above the terrain
  • Should weather or emergency conditions dictate jettisoning at a lower altitude, every effort shall be made to avoid populated areas
  • When under positive control, the PIC should advise the air traffic control facility that fuel will be jettisoned
  • ATC will broadcast or cause to be broadcast immediately and every 3 minutes thereafter on appropriate ATC and FSS radio frequencies the following:
    • ATC: "ATTENTION ALL AIRCRAFT, fuel dumping in progress over [location] at [altitude] by [type aircraft], [flight direction]"
  • Upon receipt of such a broadcast, pilots of aircraft affected, which are not on IFR flight plans or special VFR clearances, should clear the area specified in the advisory
  • Aircraft on IFR flight plans or special VFR clearances will be provided specific separation by ATC
  • At the completion of fuel dumping the pilot must advise ATC:
    • ATC: "ATTENTION ALL AIRCRAFT, fuel dumping by [type aircraft] terminated"
  • Case Studies: