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Disturbing FAA Analysis - distance from airports

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pbleic, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. pbleic

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    This article on Beer Delivery by drones has been discussed in the forum already

    However, the article contains a disturbing quote:

    "I guess I was in violation two ways." For one, even though he protests that he was only flying "80 feet high," Supple was within 30 miles of the Minneapolis airport. The other is that his excellent video has been deemed "a commercial use—we’re getting press out of it.""

    1. Whether or not the FAA has authority to do so, the two places that are referred to - their guidance and the 2012 regulations not yet implemented - refer to either a 3 mile or 5 mile distance for "notification" of airports. Further, the Class B airspace - which was brought up by the FAA as being an issue in the NYC case - extends to 5 miles around major airports at ground to 400 ft level. This stance is worrisome.

    2. If commercial is an issue, commissioning a video should be a problem for the flyer. However, now it is a problem for the poster of the video??
     
  2. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    Class B is controlled airspace. Do not enter it without explicit clearance. I have a pilot's license and I need to avoid class B airspace so you should too! Without any training for aviation operations and safety, operators of flying objects should keep them well away from airfields. If you are within a few miles of any decently sized airfield, you should check to see how the airspace is classified where you want to fly. All it takes is one or two high profile cases where a drone gets too close to an airplane and we're all going to suffer for it.
     
  3. dkatz42

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    The 30 miles (actually 30 NM, or about 35 statute miles) refers to the Mode C Veil. Generally you are required to have a Mode C radar transponder (reporting altitude) on any aircraft from the surface to 10,000 MSL within 30 NM of an airport with Class B airspace. This rule has been around since the 70s after an airliner mixed it up with a 172 in Southern California.
     
  4. dkatz42

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    http://skyvector.com has up to date Sectional Charts that show all this. Look for "30 NM Mode C" around the big airports. There's something like 35 airports in the US with Class B airspace. Plus, sectional charts are pretty if you're into maps...
     
  5. pbleic

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    OK, I am getting this now - the FAA guidance from 1981 and the 2012 not-yet-implemented regulation for model aircraft requires 3 or 5 miles without notification, and keeping under 400 ft. These are the rules which allow us to operate. The point they are making here is that a COMMERCIAL use must meet the requirements of a true aircraft, which would require the transponder, etc.

    This is the point the FAA is making. Model aircraft, you are good if you stay within the rules and not directly in Class B space (the issue in NYC). If you do something commercial with a quadcopter, things are very different.
     
  6. pbleic

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    This isn't the issue - the guy was 30 miles away. See my other posting.
     
  7. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    Well, your link above doesn't work so I wasn't sure and I don't know what other posting you're referring to. It looked like you were complaining about not being able to fly in class B space.

    Anyway, as mentioned above, the FAA could've made an issue of not having a mode C transponder but that is a bit ridiculous. Then we are all breaking that rule. However, it does raise a valid issue in that if you operate right next to class B space and stray into it inadvertently, you could cause an accident so there will likely need to be a provision for operating within x distance of class B space -- not 30 miles though!

    As for the drone use being commercial in nature, there's no doubt. Great marketing even if cheaply riding on Amazon's coattails. The scandal with the FAA, even better marketing! Begs the question, did Jeff Bezos get a call from the FAA?
     
  8. pbleic

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    In fact, that is exactly what the FAA is saying. If the hexacopter is flying on a "commercial" mission, within 30 miles of a major airport (with Class C Veil) it would need a transponder, regardless of height. They are using all the technical rules to make ANY commercial use of "drones" illegal until they rule in 2015 (or beyond).

    I love the Bezos question. Uneven application of the law for a powerful person. Never!
     
  9. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    I thought commercial use was "verbotten" completely until their new rules come out. Anyway, the 30 miles mode C needs to be different for drones. Maybe a 1 mile exclusion zone around all class B.
     
  10. pbleic

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    Yes, again that is my point. In order for the FAA to "forbid" something, they have to have the regulatory authority and rules to do so. There is no law that says "no commercial drones." The FAA can't just make that up. They have to call drones used for commercial purposes "aircraft" and regulate them based on aircraft rules and regulations. Thus the application of the transponder rule in telling this poor guy why he couldn't do what he did.

    PS - I believe I read somewhere that Jeff Bezos went out of the country to film that video - which would eliminate any authority of the FAA to regulate it.
     
  11. ElGuano

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    Yep, think that was filmed in Australia?
     
  12. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    A case of existing law being warped beyond recognition to fill the voids created by new technology. Sadly it's much too common. It is beyond me as to why the FAA can't issue interim guidelines and/or a lightweight transitional framework that keeps everyone flying and safe. It can't be that hard! CYA, FUD and FGS! As much as I see the need for rules, I don't look forward to the bureaucracy and arcane policies that plague the aviation industry. It'll suck all the fun out of it.

    On the flip side, the number of phantoms out there is multiplying rapidly. From all the videos I've seen of Phantoms at ridiculous altitudes and/or flying completely out of control, it won't be long before significant close calls or accidents occur. And less than a millisecond later the lawsuits will start and companies and individuals get sued out of existence. God bless America!
     
  13. ZonComGMZ

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    So does this mean that when I fly my Quad above the airport to get aerial videos of Aircraft Departing and Leaving I can get in trouble. I only do this over O'hare and then sell the video. Is this OK? :eek:
     
  14. dkatz42

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    I think you're conflating two different issues--commercial use, and operation within the Mode C veil.

    FAR 1.1 defines an aircraft as "a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air." FAR 91.215(b)(2) says that all aircraft need an operating transponder "...in all airspace within 30 nautical miles of an airport listed in appendix D, section 1 of this part from the surface upward to 10,000 feet MSL..." There's an exception for aircraft without electrical systems (say, an unmodified Piper Cub), and separate regulations for ultralights, but it's a pretty blanket rule.

    None of this has anything to do with whether an operation is commercial or not (if it is, it generally isn't operated under part 91 anyhow, and operates under even more strict regulation).

    Now whether or not a Phantom counts as an "aircraft" or not is certainly arguable, but the rule is not.

    Yes, it's dumb and heavy-handed, but the near-term alternative for the FAA is to say "do whatever you want" which will only add to the chaos that's already out there. The FAA is certainly way behind on this stuff, but you probably don't want them to do rulemaking in a hurry either. They're going to aggressively protect their turf, which essentially is all upside for them; ceding it would be bad precedent. Their lawyers are more expensive than yours.

    Hopefully they'll create a new classification for UAVs and come up with a bit more sanity.

    As someone who spends a fair amount of time strapped into my other aircraft, I sure don't want to get up close and personal with somebody's drone. On the other hand, if I'm buzzing those ice shanties below 90' AGL, I deserve to hit something.
     
  15. dkatz42

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    The irony is that flying directly over the field (perpendicular to the active runway(s)) is the safest thing for airport operations. Do a Bay Tour and you'll get vectored over the top of SFO at 1500'--quite spectacular.
     
  16. rmklaw

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    I believe the FAA has the authority. The definition of Aircraft under the FARs includes UAVs and any unmanned or manned flying vehicle. Also, the FARs prohibit commercial operation of Aircraft (read UAVs) unless a number of requirements for both the Aircraft and the operator (in-seat or remote) are met. Bottom line NO COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS OF DRONES. Why? For once because they are not certified under the FARs and second, because the operator is not certified by the proper licenses.
     
  17. pbleic

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    I think we are saying the same thing. Drones are aircraft; aircraft can't be operated commercially unless they meet certain requirements such as licensing of the pilot, and all of the requirements of an aircraft certification. That would presumably include the transponder at <30 miles from a major airport.

    But, this shouldn't interfere with the ability of a hobbyist to fly from 5 (or maybe 3) to 30 miles from airports, as they won't be subject to these requirements as long as they stay under 400' , etc. Again, I know the arguments that they don't even have this authority, but I am assuming for the sake of argument that they do.
     
  18. pbleic

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    I have learned that this is a complicated subject, which can be better understood as it applies to RC Model Airplanes by reading the information at this website: http://www.reddit.com/r/Multicopter/com ... py_vs_faa/

    Pay close attention to the FAA complaint, motions to dismiss, and various responses. They are fascinating reading that spend pages and pages on whether RC model aircraft - used non-commercially or commercially - fall under the FAA's definition of aircraft.
     
  19. dkatz42

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    Yep, this is the FAA's test case. Frankly, given the capabilities of what we're flying (as evidenced by what idiots have done with them), I'd be happy if they fell under regulatory control so long as those regulations aren't too unreasonable. (I happen to think that Part 91 is generally quite reasonable for full-scale flying, though other pilots may vehemently disagree).

    But this court case is a one-off skirmish to try to retain control while they can get some regulatory structure in place (like the cease-and-desist letters). It's not clear what the long-term implications will be.
     
  20. dkatz42

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    No, aircraft cannot be operated at all (commercially or not) unless the aircraft and pilot meet all those requirements. Commercial use is an even higher hurdle, but certainly not the only one.

    The no-commercial-use thing for UAVs is mostly a canard--they're trying to find some way to hold back the tide while they get their regulatory act together, and RC aircraft have been around for decades, so they don't have much leverage beyond the 1981 A/C. Nobody's really cared about commercial use of RC aircraft until now, so I see it as a (quasi-) legal stopgap for the short term.

    If the existing FARs are any indication, I would expect more regulation on commercial use than on private use, but I would expect private use to be regulated to some extent as well.