Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Widespread proliferation of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), particularly those used for hobby and recreational purposes, have become a growing problem for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in recent years. Reports of aircraft and sUAS near misses are on the rise and several similar anecdotes of ground injuries and property damage can be traced back to sUAS operations. This study sought to explore recent regulatory and policy initiatives in place to deter unsafe hobby and recreational sUAS use and hold operators accountable for hazardous sUAS activities. Using document analysis, case study, and conceptual analysis methodology, researchers analyzed 40 information sources. The study evaluated the FAA’s sUAS registration policy, current agency civil enforcement guidance, and the potential for criminal prosecution or civil liability. The study specifically addresses the risk to pilots for certificate suspension or revocation and evaluates the applicability of the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) for mitigating FAA enforcement actions against recreational sUAS operators. Finally, the study examines the potential liability incurred by sUAS operations and the applicability of various insurance policies.