Summer is a great time to fly a drone, but it is also peak wildfire season.
At peak wildfire season, even when a remote pilot is operating pursuant to safety and operational standards, sudden changes in flight conditions can make it dangerous to fly. Recent instances of drone operations delaying firefighting efforts in Arizona, Utah, and California reveal the hazards of uninformed drone operations to low-altitude manned aircraft safety.
In the United States, it is common for 300 wildfires to start per day during the fire season, with some days reaching over 500 new fires. The Federal Aviation Administration publishes Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) for many wildfires, however, the vast majority of wildfires start and spread faster than the time it takes to communicate and post the hazard as a TFR. Often, fires are extinguished before the TFR is issued, and in approximately half of those cases, the fires have been fought by firefighting airplanes and helicopters.
AirMap began publishing the FAA’s TFRs to drone operators over a year ago, and currently provides this type of data to millions of users.
AirMap now obtains wildfire information directly from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s incident command system and immediately pushes it to drone pilots through AirMap’s iOS and web apps, AirMap’s API, and the GEO geofencing system included in the DJI GO flight control app. This data is more current and includes more active wildfires than Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Through our partnership with DJI and other drone manufacturers and application developers, more than 70 percent of the drones operated in the United States now benefit from wildfire information in real time.
The addition of real-time wildfire awareness to drone operators bolsters our commitment to make drones part of everyday life by constantly and incrementally adding capabilities to enable airspace safety.