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FAA - AMA - the government and us.....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by samd012, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. samd012

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    This will probably get a bit long but if people want to understand the history and why we are where we are now then read on. We as a community need to do something!

    For many decades the AMA existed with fixed wing airplane flying at sanction fields under specific guidelines and really there were no major newsworthy issues, this extended well into the 80s. In the late 80s beginning of the early 90s helicopters became one of the new fads and the fixed wing aircraft people at the fields sanctioned by the AMA for the most part did not care for them. There were groups of Heli pilots but they were not openly accepted (even in some places to this day still) into the fixed wing world at the fields. Many even started their own sanctioned AMA fields just for Heli's because the old-school people did not care for them. Now 20 years later we have the introduction of drones. They fall under the same premise as RC aircraft so they have been bunched in with the RC helicopters and planes of the past. The problem that has occurred is that they are not really flown the same way that people have been flying conventional RC aircraft for decades. With the drone explosion and the inception of cameras and such a stable platform where anyone can learn to fly within minutes instead of having to take weeks to build and then months to learn how to fly it changed the entire dynamic of RC aircraft forever. For the most part up until this point people flew at sanctioned AMA fields within the control line area and away from people. Now there are people taking drones out everywhere in areas that are safe and areas that are unsafe and flying them in ways which at times can be unsafe. Couple that with the fact that they now have cameras and there are millions of people out there who feel like their privacy is being invaded by these devices and it has brought a lot of negative attention to RC aircraft in general. The reality is the technology that is packed into these new drones make them a product that is not really geared for flying back-and-forth doing aerobatics at a controlled field. They are a unique device that allows people to expand their horizons in videography and photography from an aerial point view as well as enjoy FPV.
    So now let's split this into two separate issues; first you have the AMA people who have now had their lives turned upside down due to this new technology and yes there are many that are not very accepting of it. It is progress and it is not going to go away so for that matter there has to be some type of middleground. But you will never take away the animosity that many people have because of the history and the changes that have now occurred to something that they have been doing their entire lives with no issues or no involvement from the government.
    Your next major issue is that for the most part drones as we see them especially with a camera platform are not meant for the same type of flying as a remote control helicopter or plane has been made for in the past. There are new obstacles that now must be addressed because what good is a camera on a $1,000 platform flying around looking at an open field with a bunch of people parked in a line at the bottom of it. The power that these new devices have open up a whole new world for people to view and it is a challenge that must be addressed separately but is now being bunched in together with the devices that were not really intended for that purpose.
    The people that are buying drones are not interested in the same type of flying as the people that are flying at sanctioned AMA fields with their helicopters and airplanes. Even though all these devices are RC aircraft they are two completely different worlds and everyone seems to be missing that point.
    There really is no way for the FAA (or ama) to be able to say RC helicopters and airplanes do not have to register when drones do. They are up against it for the simple reason that they cannot with a viable reason make a distinction between RC helicopters and planes and drones. To them they are remote control devices that are flown in the air. The whole line of sight issue is another topic completely.
    So basically what now has occurred is the only organization out there that has dealt with remote control aircraft for decades (Ama) is now trying to deal with this issue and the fundamental things that they don't realize is even though they are all remote control aircraft you are talking about apples and oranges. The AMA is not a bad organization. They have their pros and they have their cons but for what has existed prior to this drone invasion they have done a great job at keeping things in line and keeping the government out of what is considered a hobby. There now needs to be an adjustment for this because the new technology has surpassed the laws and regulations and guidelines which people have been following for decades. I completely understand how the people that are flying drones today do not see any benefit of the AMA. In all reality for the type of flying that they do the AMA guidelines are restrictive. There is no organization fighting for what guidelines should be set for these people. But the reality of it is there is no one fighting for these people so the AMA has taken them under their wing and is trying to do what they think is best. Is it what's best, that is surely an opinionated question that has thousands of answers.
    The bottom line is that whether you agree with the AMA or you disagree with them and you agree with or disagree with the registration, something needs to be done in regard to the way that many bad apples have been flying the drone's and putting people in danger. It has now caused a level of concern due to where people are flying and the fact that these devices have cameras which people have a great misconception about. That is and will always be a recipe for regulation.
    Everyone can sit here and agree or disagree about all of the pending issues including our rights, regulation and security. Whether people want to admit it or not terrorism in the world has changed the way we live forever and that just throws fuel on this fire. Unless some type of organization, whether it be the AMA or someone else, does something to address this issue in an organized fashion the people flying drones today will be whipped around by all of the arguing and laws and regulations and will end up where the dust settles simply because there is no organization or financial backing to fight for anything different.
    So where do we all go from here? Well I can tell you this we are all going nowhere sitting here arguing with each other while everyone else, whom no one agrees with, is fighting the battle.
    The bottom line is with the new capability of these drones from a ease a use perspective and a privacy perspective with the cameras that they have attached they are without a doubt going to be regulated due to all the millions of people out there who have not taken the time to understand what they're real capabilities are. Unless we as a community can find someway to team up with manufactures or some other entity with the financial backing we will be herded like sheep into the regulated pasture of our lives as drone pilots. With us now all of the AMA helicopter and airplane pilots will also be put into that pasture and that now will cause a bias between the two communities that will last for many years. Just as there is still 20 years later a bias towards helicopter pilots at some aircraft fields.
    Follow the dollar everyone and you will come to the end of where things will be because that is what drives everything these days.

    Whew.... I wouldn't really call that a rant but that IS the reality of things.
    Now please everyone take a deep breath go out and fly to remind yourself of why we are all here!
     
  2. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    Ouch! My eyes hurt! :D
    I agree with most of what you say, but in my opinion, the current way registration works is still pointless. I believe in a safety oriented approach. Since some UAV operators obviously can't regulate themselves there has to be authoritative intervention. I think that anything that has a range of more than 50' we'll say (to rule out toys), should require the owner to be licensed. In my scenario, to get the license you would be over 16 years of age and participate in an educational program with a knowledge test. After successful completion you would get a license for multi-rotor aircraft. That license number would be affixed to UAV's you own & operate. Now you would have an educated perspective and the credentials to back it up. This is the way it works for many things and I don't see why it should be any different with multi-rotor aircraft.
    I believe the current registration is a 'feel good' measure to say they did 'something'. The general public can now believe that their government is keeping them safe from rouge drone owners.
     
    Reed L, Bunny, BigAl07 and 1 other person like this.
  3. StumbleBee

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    This is as fine a piece of writing as I have read on this or many other forums. Well stated summary of who, what and why. It's too bad the short attention span members will never get past the first sentence.
     
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  4. StumbleBee

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    Good points. My personal feeling is that the UAV regulation will expand in time, as most government programs do, and eventually what you suggest may come to pass. Especially after hundreds of thousands of junior high school kids go nuts with their Christmas presents.
     
  5. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    That's what the FAA just did. They teamed up with the major manufacturers. All but the AMA agreed with it. That horse has bolted.

    Establishing a common set of rules (e.g. regulations) is the natural tendency of evolved societies to foster cooperative use of shared resources (e.g. airspace).

    I wonder if people had the same alarming reaction to registering their cars when it first happened. Again, it's $5 and 5 minutes. Hardly worth all the fuss.
     
  6. Mario_SB

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    I wouldn't say that registration is pointless but isn't 'something' better than nothing? I do like your idea of getting licensed though.
     
  7. NEair

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    Agree with this 100%! I think your right that there needs to be some sort of licensing program. Having the standard of a pilots license though seems to be a bit much. How hard would it be to come up with a web-based training program? You can use the same type of sign up that they used to register. Have a series of videos with some sort of test at the end. If you pass you print out your license to fly. If you fail you keep taking the class till you pass or you don't fly "legally.". Its not foolproof but its also not over-reaching and not overly expensive. To keep it more legit you could also charge a nominal fee to help prove it was you taking the test; just like they did for the drone registration.
     
  8. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    I believe the registration was born from public fears, not as a solution to the real problems of uneducated operators. I don't think everyone out there want to use their UAV in an unsafe manner, I think many of them have no idea that they are as they have no aircraft safety knowledge. I also believe that the registration rule is weak because toy makers were not happy with it as it would mean lower sales and they lobbied against it heavily. While something needs to be done, make it something that works, not just something that appeases the ones who will profit from the hobby. While I will comply, I am unhappy with the way this was all implemented.
     
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  9. Mario_SB

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    In my opinion the public fears are legitimate. It is now the world we live in and a few bad apples will always mess it up for everyone. Wether it's a DJI Phantom crashing on the lawn of the White House or a Phantom crashing into the Great Wheel in Seattle, the fears are legitimate no matter how outrages they may sound. I'm a responsible drone pilot without much experience but have confidence in my flying abilities and that "what if" question is always in the back of my head. What if I involuntary lose control and what if it happens at the worst possible moment? Sometimes good responsibility and accountability and in this case legislation means putting into consideration whatever the worst case scenario may be.
     
  10. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    Very well written by the OP. I completely agree and admittedly have at one time or another fallen into every single category (and then some) you mentioned. I have been "at this" for 4 decades and it's mind boggling how much has changed and exponentially in the last 10 years or so. One things that was nice for me is our local flyers have always been forward thinking and accepted the new technology across the board. Helicopters, then stabilized heli, quads and now octo and more are all flown from our local field.

    Yes that type of flying can get boring quick so you add on FPV and fun stuff. Now we've opened a whole new can of worms (fun worms but safety people don't like FPV and I can understand that) to cause concerns.

    It is going to take time for everything to shake out and stabilize with regulations and training and in the mean while we are going to hit some hurdles, speed bumps and probably a brick wall until things just work out. Unfortunately public outcry about privacy and accountability made the FAA/DOT have this knee jerk reaction and even though it doesn't make sense to "us" it goes a long way to appeasing John Q Public and his/her concerns over our nasty horrible deadly drones. Public perception is our reality like it or not and we just have to stay calm, smart and ride it out.

    I am 100% for smart registration but I do not think that any portion of it should be public record. LE should be able to access it (yes I realize that opens up another loop hole in security) but that should be it. On the flip side you'd probably be horribly shocked how much information I can find out about you (or at least 95% of the members on here) in a matter of a few minutes.