Section 107.9 Accident reporting. (2018)


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Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

No later than 10 calendar days after an operation that meets the criteria of either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, a remote pilot in command must report to the FAA, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator, any operation of the small unmanned aircraft involving at least:

(a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or

(b) Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1) The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or

(2) The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss.

 

My Commentary on Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

I created a giant article on what to do after a drone crash.

 

Advisory Circular 107-2 on Section 107.9 Accident reporting.

Accident Reporting. The remote PIC of the sUAS is required to report an accident to the
FAA within 10 days if it meets any of the following thresholds:
1. At least serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. Within the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with Level 1 being a minor injury, Level 2 is moderate, Level 3 is serious, Level 4 is severe, Level 5 is critical, and Level 6 is a nonsurvivable injury. The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations.

Note: It would be considered a “serious injury” if a person requires hospitalization, but the injury is fully reversible (including, but not limited to, head trauma, broken bone(s), or laceration(s) to the skin that requires suturing).

2. Damage to any property, other than the small UA, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower).

Note: For example, a small UA damages a property whose fair market value is $200, and it would cost $600 to repair the damage. Because the fair market value is below $500, this accident is not required to be reported. Similarly, if the aircraft causes $200 worth of damage to property whose fair market value is $600, that accident is also not required to be reported because the repair cost is below $500.

Submitting the Report. The accident report must be made within 10 calendar-days of the operation that created the injury or damage. The report may be submitted to the appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) electronically or by telephone. Electronic reporting can be completed at www.faa.gov/uas/. To make a report by phone, see Figure 4-1, FAA Regional Operations Centers Telephone List. Reports may also be made to the nearest jurisdictional FSDO (http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/). The report should include the following information:
1. sUAS remote PIC’s name and contact information;
2. sUAS remote PIC’s FAA airman certificate number;
3. sUAS registration number issued to the aircraft, if required (FAA registration number);
4. Location of the accident;
5. Date of the accident;
6. Time of the accident;
7. Person(s) injured and extent of injury, if any or known;
8. Property damaged and extent of damage, if any or known; and
9. Description of what happened.

LOCATION WHERE ACCIDENT OCCURRED: TELEPHONE:
DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, WV, and VA 404-305-5150
AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, MA, ME, MS, NC, NH, PR, RI, SC, TN, VI, and VT 404-305-5156
AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY 425-227-1999
AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TX, and WI 817-222-5006

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Reporting. In addition to the report submitted to the ROC, and in accordance with the criteria established by the NTSB, certain sUAS accidents must also be reported to the NTSB. For more information, visit www.ntsb.gov.

 

FAA’s Discussion on Section 107.9 Accident reporting from the Final Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule 

To ensure proper oversight of small UAS operations, the NPRM proposed to require a small UAS operator to report to the FAA any small UAS operation that results in: (1) any injury to a person; or (2) damage to property other than the small unmanned aircraft. The report would have to be made to the FAA within 10 days of the operation that resulted in injury or damage to property. After receiving this report, the FAA may conduct further investigation to determine whether any FAA regulations were violated.

The NPRM invited comments as to whether this type of accident reporting should be required. The NPRM also invited comments as to whether small UAS accidents that result in minimal amounts of property damage should be exempted from the reporting requirement, and, if so, what threshold of property damage should trigger the accident reporting requirement. For the reasons discussed below, this rule will require accident reporting of accidents that result in at least: (1) serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or (2) damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless the cost of repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss does not exceed $500.

Most of the commenters who addressed this issue generally supported an accident reporting requirement. However, the commenters questioned whether the proposed requirement to report any injury or property damage is too broad because it does not consider the severity of the injury or property damage. To correct what they also saw as an overly broad accident reporting requirement, most of the commenters recommended the proposed requirement be amended to stipulate that reporting is required only for operations that cause injury or property damage above certain thresholds.
A number of commenters recommended general thresholds for reportable injuries and property damage. For example, the Drone User Group Network said an operation should be reportable if it involves “significant” injury or property damage. The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences said an operation should be reportable if it involves “serious” injury or “substantial” property damage; such a requirement, the commenter pointed out, is in line with the NTSB definition of “occurrence” and the FAA definition of “accident.” AIA suggested a reporting requirement for operations causing “serious bodily harm (those requiring hospitalization, for instance)” or “substantial” property damage. AUVSI, University of North Carolina System, and Prioria said operations resulting in minor injuries or minimal damage to property should not be required to be reported in the same manner as more serious injuries or substantial damage to property. UPS said an operation should be reportable if it causes an injury that requires medical attention or property damage that exceeds a threshold amount “sufficient to exclude insignificant incidents.” An individual commenter recommended a reporting requirement for operations that result in injury or property damage “which is over the upper monetary limit of the small claims court jurisdiction.”

Several commenters recommended more specific thresholds for reportable injuries and property damage. These commenters generally recommended a requirement that the injury caused by the operation be one that necessitates some sort of medical attention and that the property damage caused by the operation exceed some minimum monetary threshold, ranging from $100 to $25,000. For example, commenters recommended some of the following specific thresholds be added to the proposed accident reporting requirement:

• Modovolate Aviation and Aviation Management said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury requiring “hospitalization or other treatment by a provider of medical care,” or “professional medical assistance,” respectively, or property damage of $1,000.
• NBAA said an operation should be reportable if a person has to seek medical treatment as a result of the operation or if property damage exceeds $1,000 or if a police report is filed.
• NAMIC said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “requiring professional medical treatment” or property damage greater than $2,000.
• The Travelers Companies said an operation should be reportable if it causes “‘serious’ injuries caused by impact of the UAS” or property damage of over $5,000.
• Clean Gulf Associations said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “which requires professional medical treatment beyond first aid or death to any person” or property damage greater than $10,000.
• Jam Aviation said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “that requires emergency medical attention” or property damage that exceeds $25,000 or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less.
• Skycatch, Clayco, AECOM, and DPR Construction said an operation should be reportable if it causes injury “requiring assistance of trained medical personnel” or property damage in excess of $20,000.

The California Department of Transportation, Virginia Commonwealth University Honors Students, Southern Company, and a few individual commenters suggested that the accident reporting requirement in this rule should be modeled after the accident reporting requirement for manned aircraft, which, among other things, requires an operator to notify NTSB of an accident resulting in death or “serious injury” (see 49 CFR 830.2) or of damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less. (See 49 CFR 830.5(a)(6)).

The Kansas State University UAS Program and Cherokee Nation Technologies said the FAA should follow the NTSB reporting requirement for property damage, but made no comment regarding the injury component of the proposed accident reporting requirement. NTSB also pointed to the manned-aircraft reporting requirement for property damage and suggested the FAA take this, and other criteria included in 49 CFR part 830, into account. An individual commenter pointed out that the NTSB has specific reporting requirements for UAS, and said the FAA’s proposed accident reporting requirement should therefore be amended to begin with the phrase: “In addition to UAS accident/incident reporting requirement of the National Transportation Safety Board… .”
Several other commenters also only addressed the property damage component of the accident reporting requirement. An individual commenter said no accident need be reported where the property damage is considered inconsequential by the owner of the property. SkySpecs recommended a reporting requirement for property damage above $100, or if an insurance report is filed. The Center of Innovation-Aerospace, Georgia Department of Economic Development recommended a $500 threshold, which it said is a common deductible amount for property and automobile insurance. The Oklahoma Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (which explicitly supported the proposed requirement to report all accidents resulting in any injury) expressed concern that a threshold lower than $1,000 would result in unnecessary and burdensome reporting of information and data that would not be beneficial to the FAA, the public, or the industry in general. The American Insurance Association recommended a $5,000 threshold for property damage. The Small UAV Coalition (who also supported the proposed requirement to report accidents causing any injury) said accidents resulting in property damage should only be reportable if the damage caused is to the property of someone not involved in the operation. The commenter did not propose a minimum monetary threshold for this property damage to be reportable.

DJI, which opposed applying the NTSB accident reporting criteria to small UAS, suggested that the FAA look to how other Federal agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, categorize injury by level of severity. Airport Council International-North America and Clean Gulf Associations said the injury component of the proposed accident reporting requirement should be expanded to include a requirement to report all accidents resulting in death.

Two commenters specifically addressed operations in an industrial setting that may result in injury or property damage. The American Chemistry Council said there should be no reporting requirement for operations in an industrial setting that cause workplace injuries that are covered by OSHA reporting requirements or cause less than $25,000 in damage to private property that is owned and operated by the facility owner. Associated General Contractors of America also encouraged the FAA to exclude any operations resulting in “OSHA-recordable” injuries. The commenter further recommended the FAA exclude operations resulting in “de minimis” property damage from the reporting requirement.

The FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that injuries and property damage falling below certain thresholds should not be reportable. Requiring remote pilots in command to report minimal injuries (such as a minor bruise from the unmanned aircraft) or minimal property damage (such as chipping a fleck of paint off an object) would impose a significant burden on the remote pilots. This burden would not correspond to a safety/oversight benefit because an operation resulting in minimal injury or minimal property damage may not correspond with a higher likelihood of a regulatory violation.

In determining the threshold at which to set injury reporting, the FAA agrees with commenters who suggested that the threshold should generally be set at serious injury. A serious injury is an injury that qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. The AIS is an anatomical scoring system that provides a means of ranking the severity of an injury and is widely used by emergency medical personnel. Within the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6, with Level 1 being a minor injury, Level 2 moderate, Level 3 serious, Level 4 severe, Level 5 critical, and Level 6 a non-survivable injury. An AIS Level 3 injury is one that is reversible but usually involves overnight hospitalization.

ALIS LEVELSeverityType of Injury
1MinorSuperficial
2ModerateReversible Injury; medical attention required

 

3SeriousReversible injury; hospitalization required
4SevereLife threatening; not fully recoverable without medical care.
5CriticalNon-reversible injury; unrecoverable even with medical care
6Virtually Un-SurvivableFatal

The FAA currently uses serious injury (AIS Level 3) as an injury threshold in other FAA regulations.154 DOT and FAA guidance also express a preference for AIS methodology in classifying injuries for the purpose of evaluating the costs and benefits of FAA regulations.155 Additionally, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses AIS level 3 injuries as the metric evaluating the effectiveness of occupant safety measures for automobiles156 and for estimating the costs
associated with automobile accidents.157 The FAA has significant operational experience administering the serious-injury threshold and because the AIS Level 3 standard is widely used and understood, it is the appropriate injury threshold to use in this rule.

In addition to serious injuries, this rule will also require accident reporting for accidents that result in any loss of consciousness because a brief loss of consciousness may not rise to the level of a serious injury. However, the confined-area-of-operation regulations discussed in section III.E.3 of this preamble, such as the general prohibition on flight over people, are designed with the express purpose of preventing accidents in which a small unmanned aircraft hits a person on the head and causes them to lose consciousness or worse. Thus, if there is a loss of consciousness resulting from a small UAS operation, there may be a higher probability of a regulatory violation.

With regard to the threshold for reporting property damage, the FAA agrees with the Center of Innovation-Aerospace, Georgia Department of Economic Development, which suggested a property damage threshold of $500. Property damage below $500 is minimal and may even be part of the remote pilot in command’s mitigations to ensure the safety of the operation. For example, a remote pilot in command may mitigate risk of loss of positive control by positioning the small UAS operation such that the small unmanned aircraft will hit uninhabited property in the event of a loss of positive control. However, property damage above $500 is not minimal, and as such, this rule will require reporting of a small UAS accident resulting in property damage exceeding $500.

In calculating the property damage, the FAA notes that sometimes, it may be significantly more cost-effective simply to replace a damaged piece of property rather than repair it. As such, for purposes of the accident-reporting requirement of part 107, property damage will be calculated by the lesser of the repair price or fair market value of the damaged property. For example, assume a small UAS accident that damages a piece of property whose fair market value is $200. Assume also that it would cost $600 to repair the damage caused by the small UAS accident. In this scenario, the remote pilot in command would not be required to report the accident because the fair market value would be lower than the repair cost, and the fair market value would be below $500. The outcome would be the same if the values in the scenario are reversed (repair cost of $200 and fair market value of $600) because the lower value (repair cost) would be below $500.

Transport Canada questioned whether small UAS operators would be permitted to continue operating their UAS after experiencing an accident/incident, or whether they would be expected to cease operations until the accident has been reported and the causal factors addressed. In response, the FAA notes that a remote pilot would need to cease operations only if the FAA revokes or suspends the remote pilot certificate or the unmanned aircraft, as a result of the accident, is no longer in a condition for safe operation in accordance with part 107.

A few commenters recommended changes to the 10-day deadline for reporting operations that result in injury or property damage. The American Insurance Association said the reporting deadline should be changed to 10 business days. The Kansas State University UAS Program recommended a 3-day reporting deadline. The Professional

Helicopter Pilots Association and Virginia Department of Aviation recommended a 48-hour reporting deadline, while an individual commenter suggested a 24-hour deadline. The Oregon Department of Aviation also recommended the FAA shorten the proposed 10-day reporting deadline, but did not suggest an alternative deadline. DroneView Technologies suggested a 3-hour reporting deadline.
An accident triggering the reporting requirement of § 107.9 may involve extensive injuries or property damage. The remote pilot in command’s first priority should be responding to the accident by, among other things, ensuring that any injured people receive prompt medical attention. Having to immediately draft an accident report for the FAA may interfere with that priority, and as such, the FAA declines to make the reporting deadline shorter than the 10 calendar days proposed in the NPRM. The FAA also declines to extend the reporting deadline beyond 10 calendar days because 10 days should provide a sufficient amount of time to respond to the accident and draft an accident report for the FAA.

Several other commenters, including NBAA, and NAMIC, recommended that the FAA create an online reporting system. NBAA also recommended the FAA work with NASA to determine what modifications if any would be required to the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) to accommodate small UAS reports. An individual commenter similarly recommended the ASRS be expanded to allow small UAS operators to make reports of unsafe actions on the part of manned aircraft or other small UAS operators. That commenter also suggested the FAA consider creating an online reporting mechanism for operators to voluntarily provide operational data without fear of enforcement actions being taken against them. GAMA requested that the FAA review the agency’s Near-Midair

Collision System (NMACS) incident reporting system to ensure that the existing business rules for reporting NMACs appropriately consider UAS. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi/LSUASC suggested the COA online portal be used for accident reporting. Virginia Commonwealth University Honors Students also stated that reporting of incident data to the U.S. Department of Interior’s SAFECOM system should continue as well.

This rule will allow an accident report to be submitted to the FAA electronically. The part 107 advisory circular provides guidance about how to electronically submit an accident report.
Several commenters recommended that certain incidents other than operations resulting in injury or property damage should also be reportable. The State of Nevada, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, and the Nevada FAA-designated UAS Test Site, commenting jointly, said the accident reporting requirement should be expanded to include a requirement to report any “lost platform” incident. ALPA, AIA, AUVSI, and University of North Carolina System also said the proposed rule should include a reporting requirement for “lost link” or “fly away” incidents. ALPA asserted that such a reporting requirement will allow the FAA to develop hard data on the reliability of these systems and therefore more accurately evaluate risk.
Modovolate said operations that involve complete loss of control or failure of automated safety systems such as airspace exclusion or return to home should also be reportable. An individual commenter said reports should be filed for operations where there is: failure of the control device, failure of the flight control system, flyaway (lateral or vertical), loss of control as a result of either electrical failure or radio interference, or a close encounter with a manned aircraft where the manned aircraft was observed to make “an abrupt avoidance maneuver.” Airport Council International-North America similarly recommended the accident reporting requirement be expanded to include an operation where an operator was required to take evasive action to avoid manned aircraft, especially in cases where such actions took place within 5 miles of airports. The Professional Helicopter Pilots Association recommended a reporting requirement for all accidents involving other aircraft during flight (whether manned or unmanned), as well as all accidents resulting in substantial damage to the operator’s UAS.

CAPA noted that the proposal does not address reporting “HATR or other incidents that do not rise to the level or property damage or injury.” The commenter recommended these incidents be reported and tracked “to ensure this policy is effective and continues to provide safe operating procedures for small UAS operations as they interface with commercial and civil aviation traffic.” ALPA suggested there would be a potential safety benefit to establishing a process for small UAS owners to report malfunctions, identified defects, and other in-service problems. ALPA noted that this operational data could be used in subsequent risk evaluation.

The purpose of the accident-reporting requirement in this rule is to allow the FAA to more effectively allocate its oversight resources by focusing on potential regulatory violations that resulted in accidents. The FAA declines to mandate reporting of other events, such as the ones suggested by the commenters, because they do not rise to the level of a significant accident. The FAA notes, however, that a regulatory violation can occur
482
without resulting in a serious accident and any regulatory violation may be subject to enforcement action.
The FAA also notes that the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is available for voluntary reporting of any aviation safety incident or situation in which aviation safety may have been compromised. The FAA offers ASRS reporters guarantees and incentives to encourage reporting by holding ASRS reports in strict confidence and not using ASRS information against reporters in enforcement actions. Further, the FAA agrees that data collection is a valuable tool for determining a baseline for performance, reliability, and risk assessment. The FAA plans to develop a tool where remote pilots of small UAS can voluntarily share data which may not meet the threshold for accident reporting. This would provide a means for evaluation of operational integrity for small UAS.
NOAA supported the proposed accident reporting requirement, but said it should be expanded to include a requirement to report an operation that results in injury to protected wildlife. NOAA asserted that because many wildlife are also federally regulated, managed, and/or protected species, it is critical that the FAA require reporting of injury to these species, so other Federal agencies and interested parties can assess potential hazards caused by small UAS.
The FAA currently provides a way for all aircraft operators in the NAS to voluntarily report wildlife strikes. Small UAS remote pilots who encounter a wildlife strike may also submit a report. Further, remote pilots may be obligated to report death or injury to wildlife under Federal, State, or local law.

A few commenters opposed the imposition of an accident reporting requirement. Trimble argued that the damage a small UAS can cause is “sufficiently small” that operators should not have an obligation to report an accident to the FAA or NTSB. Instead, the commenter said, if an operator is unable to land a small UAS safely and an incident occurs, the operator should only be required to notify local law enforcement. An individual commenter who opposed a reporting requirement recommended “developing law enforcement relationships to facilitate investigations, insurance claims, etc.”
The FAA disagrees with commenters who suggested that no data should be reported to the FAA. As discussed earlier, the FAA plans to use data collected from these reports to more effectively allocate its oversight resources. In response to the argument that accidents caused by small UAS are small, the FAA notes that reporting for accidents resulting in minor injuries or property damage below $500 will not be required.

The FAA has long-established relationships with law enforcement and values the assistance that law enforcement provides during accident/incident investigations. However, as discussed earlier, the FAA cannot delegate its formal enforcement authority to other entities such as local law enforcement personnel.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.