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FAA rules, AMA suggestions......

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Couchie, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Couchie

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    In an effort not to hijack other posts, I'm just going to air my opinion on all of this talk of FAA 'rules' in place now and the AMA's rules.

    I want to first clarify that I agree there needs to be some guidelines for phantom pilots to go by for safe operation of their craft. They are no different in some ways than full sized aircraft in the skies above us. The FAA heavily regulates aircraft from ultralights to 787's, the pilots that fly them, the mechanics that work on them, and the manufacturers who produce them. With that regulation, the safety record of our aviation industry is very good.

    Now, with that out of the way I want to step back for a moment and look at this through the eyes of a person who saved up, tucked away some money and purchased one of these awesome little machines. Lets keep the mechanical issues at bay for the sake of the topic.

    I am retiring after 20+ years in law enforcement. I'm also a commercial pilot and flight instructor. I thoroughly enjoy flying but it costs an arm, a leg, and your second born anymore to do so. I wanted to enjoy flight at a less expensive rate. I often get requests from people to fly over their property and take pictures from aloft. I was thinking, like most I'm sure, what a great way to take aerials, and NOT have to spend all the money on the plane (gas, oil, hangar rent, insurance, annual inspections, etc.) but yet still provide quality images/videos and do so with much better quality.

    Well, I get my P2V+ (was a v2, now a v3) and get acquainted.

    Now comes the discussion of the FAA's oversight on these craft and the opposing opinions of airline pilots, the AOPA, and every other tom-dick-and-harry who are uneducated on these craft.

    1) I can't use my phantom to take pictures/video for commercial use. I can't even sell the picture I take from my phantom. That in and of itself I think is BS. Again, I understand all of the safety regs and what not. I operate the phantom like I do the airplane with all safety concerns in mind.

    2) I'm not supposed to fly over 400' AGL in any airspace (as suggested by the FAA and AMA.) Again, I understand why this suggestion is in place. As I've stated in other posts, manned aircraft is supposed to stay 500' over rural and 1,000' over urban areas unless with a few exceptions.

    3) The suggestions say I can't fly at night. even though my craft is well lit with red and green lights, just like a full sized aircraft, I can't fly between the hours the sun is either horizon or darkness.

    4) There is talk of making UAS pilots obtain a PPL (Private pilot license) in order to even operate the craft. WHAT?!? I spent, and am still paying off over $40,000 for my commercial license and CFII certs. Granted the PPL won't cost that much, but you can easly get into $5,000 for a PPL.

    Ok.... now my rants, again these are just MY opinions, so flame me if you will but these are mop opinions.

    First point - selling the images/videos produced by my Phantom. This one just blows my mind. Lets flip this around a little and see how these rules apply in a different manner. Supposed for a second that I take a friend up in my little Cessna 172. That friend takes pictures from the right seat. We land, he/she goes to a business and sells those images. Has my friend violated any rules? Not as far as I know. I'm not a scholar in FAA regs, but I have been through them a few times. I keep reiterating that I understand there are rules and regs for safety and I understand those. I fly my Phantom in a very responsible manner making sure I check my GPS app, TFR's in the area, pending weather, and proximity to airports and approach paths. Argh! I'll stop.. this one could go on forever.

    Second point - Again, I understand why to a certain extent, these suggestions are in place. I explained above about full sized aircraft and the rules they are supposed to operate by. I've also stated in other posts the cloud clearance rules aircraft must adhere to when operating in the skies. (Generally speaking, 500' below, 1,000' above, and 2,000 feet horizontally) Another point of contention in these and other forums. Have I gone above the 400' ceiling, sure I have to maybe 450'. The craft is never out of my sight and I keep a full scan of the surrounding sky in view at all times. If I hear a medivac chopper in the area or see an aircraft in the area I descend quickly to tree top level and continue after it passes. The 'see-and-avoid' rules the FAA has in place already. This is the one that they'll hang someone on should a craft strike a full size aircraft.

    Third point - Don't fly at night. Have I flown at night, sure I have. I use the same rules I do above. I watch for aircraft, and avoid should any be in the area. For example, New Years Eve my family gathered, lit Chinese Lanterns, and let them go. I flew the Phantom and captured video of the launch and tracked them for a short time. The highest I got was maybe 150'. The craft was lit with the mandatory red and green lights and was clearly visible to me on the ground.

    This fourth one, although I might be able to actually make some money on this rule, is asinine. 90% of the training a PPL goes through has no bearing on UAS pilots, at least not Phantom craft. Now, I certainly agree that Phantom pilots should be very familiar with the rules and regs the FAA has in place. This would put the Phantom pilots and full sized craft pilots on the same playing field. Knowing what rules are in place would certainly help keep this a safe hobby. (Hobby, just in case someone with the FAA is watching).

    One thing I touched on earlier that I left alone, but the more I think about it, I need to say something. The groups lobbying for tight restrictions on UAS/UAVs. AOPA (Airplane Owners and Pilots) and APA (Airline Pilot's Association) are going to throw alot of money at this. I was once a member of AOPA. Don't get me wrong, they do a lot of good work. The AOPA though spends a LOT of money lobbying. I grew tired of every year when my membership came due, of the 'renew now or the FAA will invoke user fees'. Well there are more things going on in aviation then user fees. Granted I didn't agree with user fees and most pilots don't, but that seemed to be the common threat AOPA would use to keep you enlisted. AOPA's stance on UAS/UAVs is pretty strong and the lobbying dollars AOPA spends will have a lot of weight with the FAA/NTSB.

    Take a look at this article: http://www.14news.com/story/27716521/key-decisions-on-drones-likely-from-congress

    This one chapped my butt!
    Really?!? Nearly every day?

    Ok, this next one really burns me:

    It has been said on this and many other forums. Folks bragging about blowing the suggested operating rules out of the water, ignoring them an blatantly doing so. The AOPA, which remember is a strong lobbying group, is going to use all these Youtube videos you guys are posting as evidence! He mentions this in his quote! People flying their phantoms up through the clouds or even over a layer, and posting the video for the world to see. Hello!?! This is just begging for attention. Attention is going to come, but not in a favorable way!

    And once again, the press gets it wrong:
    Stating there are regulations, of which there are none as of yet. Just suggestions.

    Ok, I'm stepping off my milk crate and getting my first aid creme ready. Let the flaming begin. I've stated my opinion... :cool:
     
  2. LordEvil

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    Good post IMO, I agree, they are well lit, should be allowed to fly at night if the pilot is in a well known area to him/her because of power lines etc.

    Should be allowed to exceed 400' if well outside the flight path to an airport.

    Also there may have been 20 drones flown close to an airport out of 100 of thousands of takeoffs and landings. Probably half of the 20 were not even at 400 feet or close enough to an airport but was spotted by pilots who were "alarmed" of the drone.
     
  3. Couchie

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    One thing I forgot to mention about these pilots who see our craft 'almost daily'.

    I have been flying for almost ten years. I can't count the number of times a controller will give me a traffic alert, the position of the aircraft and direction of travel of the aircraft close to me and me not be able to pick it out of the sky. I am thankful there was that eye in the sky to let me know about the aircraft and keep me a safe distance away, but think about this for a minute. If I can't pick out a Cessna 172 or a Bonanza from a distance with the assistance of ATC, how in the world can I see one of these tiny craft unless it is less then 500' away?

    I would hope there aren't UAS/UAV pilots stupid enough to fly that close to a real aircraft.

    Ok... now I'l really stop. :roll:
     
  4. Morgon

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    Thank you, voice of reason! I came here to say the same thing.

    This country has entered a disturbing trend where we do less to hold individual idiots accountable, and simply make knee-jerk regulations. Laws/Regulations should be permissive, not restrictive. Suggest a default reasonable altitude, like 1000', and restrict it in places where it makes sense - airports, hospitals, etc. Allow night flights, but put larger emphasis on line-of-sight and situational awareness. It's really not rocket-science.

    With accidents happen? Yes. After all, we still have car crashes, airplanes missing, and peeping toms. But you cannot hand-hold all of society without becoming oppressive. An individual person needs to be held accountable for their actions if/when something occurs, not an entire section of the population.
     
  5. flyNfrank

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    Some like to put a lot of different colored LED lights on and fly at night. People in turn see something they are not familiar with and either call 911, or drive with their eyes stuck in the upward position and cause crashes.

    So now there will be those pilots that don't care about the lights on their quads and either tape them out, or install a toggle switch to shut them off before lift off at night. Their telemetry will allow them to fly in the dark should they choose to.

    Where is a revision of the current FFA rules? Anyone know?
     
  6. csauer52

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    Not disagreeing with you but I would ask you why you feel this way? What's the added benefit in going over 400'AGL? Keep in mind the FAA considers these RC aircraft and should always be within LOS of the pilot. One could argue 400' is easily approaching the LOS limits for most folks who don't have 20/20 vision.

    As for the the statement re: the ~20 incidents in/around airports - ONE is too many despite the "hundreds of thousands" of flights that weren't IMO.

    THIS is the salient point that everyone seems to be missing. There's a reason the AMA has been relatively left alone for so many decades. They have standards and they maintain them. We should do the same as UAV pilots if we'd like to continue using them unabated in future.

    Sheesh, how many people can't even figure out how to start these things up or what the LED sequences mean and we expect them to be safe in and around commercial and recreational manned aircraft?
     
  7. Morgon

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    It may not benefit you, but that doesn't mean that someone else doesn't have an interest and/or cannot be safe flying over 400'. It may not seem like much, but I've enjoyed the perspectives I've gotten at 500'-550' (enjoyed in a rural area with no nearby air traffic) which were most certainly different than those at 400'.

    The point: Had something gone wrong, *I* should be held accountable and be responsible for it. Not you, and not anyone else who may want to fly above 400'.
     
  8. csauer52

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  9. csauer52

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    I get what you're saying but I just don't see the need when safety is concerned. AMA members fly 1/5 scale model RC planes within these limits and don't see the need to go higher, I don't see why UAVs would need to go higher either. Don't shoot me, just my opinion in the interest of safety and being a responsible pilot.

    Agreed on holding folks accountable though. Financial disincentive goes a long way in eliciting good behavior over the long run.
     
  10. unity

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    Hmmm.. how high up can a Chinese lantern make it? Just saying.
     
  11. MapMaker53

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    Good post with excellent points, Couchie. It's good to have a pilot's point of view amongst us. I agree the YouTube videos will be the undoing of this hobby, and the rest of us can thank those idiots for their "contribution". Unfortunately, those are the same morons who WILL fly that close to a real aircraft if given the opportunity.

    I think UAVs should fall into 4 Classes, and I have already suggested it to my local congressman. Class T (toy), Class H (hobby), Class C (commercial), and Class M (military). The criteria based on size and capability can be argued out, but I think that would be a logical and reasonable starting point for organized and realistic regulations.
     
  12. csauer52

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    A Chinese lantern isn't considered an RC aircraft under the definitions of a model aircraft.

     
  13. Morgon

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    AMA members typically fly products that require a lot of horizontal space. Yes, you have model helicopter pilots in the mix, too, but they generally (maybe some do?) don't have the same type of technology and safety features that quadcopters do. And once all the manufacturers start adopting that spin move when one motor goes out, quads will become even more safe (in general).

    Most (not all) model helicopters also don't have cameras on them, which does indeed negate the desire to go above 400' (not to mention the AMA requirements. My local field gets undercover FAA and AMA bystanders from time to time, so they are more careful). If they had cameras, perhaps they would have a desire to go over 400'. I don't personally know.

    By and large, this is a new technology. The only similarities these have to model aircraft is that they operate in airspace. Jetskis have different requirements/regulations than full-size boats; full-size helicopters have different requirements/regulations than full-size planes. Tanks have different R/Rs than cars :) Bottom line: these are different beasts used for very different reasons than your typical RC Aircraft.

    I don't think anyone here is opposed to having some set standards, but they have to respect the technology and the pilots behind them.
     
  14. MapMaker53

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    The downside to laws and regulations is that they are established to protect the public from the dumbest members of society. There are people flying UAVs that feel they should be able to do whatever they want after spending $1300 for their toy. I've even seen a member of this forum argue that he should be allowed to drive drunk if he wants to because it's HIS life that he is risking. So, IMO, regulations are absolutely needed when it comes to flying UAVs. I have no problem with that. I'll adapt and have fun either way.
     
  15. HailStorm

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    Great post Couchie. I couldn't agree with you more.

    I wouldn't mind shelling out $500 to $1000 for a "UAV license" for commercial use, but the expectation that we obtain a PPL is ridiculous.
     
  16. msinger

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    The FAA is claiming the law requires that. Here's how the FAA responded in one of their most recent exemption petition approvals:

     
  17. flyNfrank

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    The section I have added below will apply to our hobby.


    SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.

    (a) IN GENERAL.
    —Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Fed-
    eral Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this sub-title, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—

    (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
    (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
    (3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
    (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
    (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).

    (b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.
    —Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue
    enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.

    (c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.
    —In this section, the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—

    (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; VerDate Mar 15 2010 03:52 Feb 04, 2012 Jkt 072595 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 6659 Sfmt 6603 E:\HR\OC\HR381.XXX HR381 pwalker on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with REPORTS 69
    (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
    (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.
     
  18. dbooty

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    All really good point Couchie! :D

    What are suggestions and guidelines for you guys is actually law here in Australia under CASR Part 101 regulations which were came out in 2002.

    Due to 101 being 12 years old and well before "hobby" UAVs being common place CASA is now currently working on CASR part 102 which is supposed to be completed next year.

    God only knows what limitations will come from that one! :(

    http://www.casa.gov.au/SCRIPTS/NC.DLL?WCMS:STANDARD::pc=PC_100376

    http://www.casa.gov.au/wcmswr/_assets/main/lib100071/flying_with_control_model.pdf
     
  19. rbhamilton

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    Solid post. In particular the idea that you would need a PPL to fly a drone is just silly. I do have a PPL and I can assure you almost none of that info is applicable.
     
  20. flyNfrank

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    I guess I see the FAA regulations different from others. I see what I posted as being the only thing that applies to us hobbyist. There is a dedicated "Public Unmanned Aircraft Systems" section, and the a dedicated "Special Rule For Model Aircraft" section. The mentioned Special Rule section contains some of the same wording found in the Public UAS section. So...if they were meant to be of the Public UAS section, they were not have declared a 2nd section. Keep in mind. There is parts throughout the regulations that are called Sub Titles and revisions that start out with such things as these-> ‘‘§ 41724.

    Anyway, it's because of the one dedicated section which is the only with the wording "Model Aircraft" is why stuff in the other sections doesn't apply to us like some think. And yes I know there will be several that feel like it all applies. And it might, but I just see it differently. Don't mean to get anyone upset over the subject either. "Model Aircraft"