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full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' AGL

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by theSelf, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. theSelf

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    As a full scale helicopter pilot and drone/rc pilot I've been encouraging all drone users to stick to the 400 AGL limit for good reason and some drone users are complaining about this message being repeatedly being passed on thinking we're trying to 'spoil the fun' (which is far from the truth- I'm all for fun and pro this hobby)... however now there is an incident in Australia where a full scale helicopter almost hit a drone...please stick to the altitude limits...http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-...drone-collision-could-have-been-disas/5345618

    Everyone- I urge you to please just keep to the altitude limits so the hobby's future will be ensured (I'm pro this hobby as much as flying full scale but when it comes to it- I choose protecting my own and my fellow aviators' lives over making fun altitude records with drones- flying drones in of itself should be fun enough- at the end of the day if a drone hits a helo's tail rotor- it can and will take it out making the helicopter uncontrollable- there have been incidents where large birds (similar in weight or lighter than) drones have either stopped the helo's tail rotor or actually removed it completely from the helicopter with fatal results- the effect of the drone's weight is exponentially increased when hit at speed- a drone hitting anything at 100mph will do alot of damage-bird strikes have gone through windshields and have incapacitated and in some cases even decapitated pilots...drones can do the same or worse- yes the drone may be worth up to $2000 on average but when you're talking about the potential for losing people's lives and destroying a $2M aircraft & property on the ground it's kind of a no brainer who and what has the priority- birds, RC aircraft and drones are very hard to see from the cockpit to see and avoid- so it's up to us as drone/RC pilots to avoid full scale traffic at all costs

    here's yet another incident where a ful scale airplane hit a giant scale RC aircraft - captured on video- http://jalopnik.com/5617310/video-c...-real-one-sparks-dogfight-over-air-rights/all

    Legally, the FAA at least, says helicopters (unlike airplanes) do not have an altitude limit- they can legally fly as low as they want so long as in the event of an engine failure they have the airspeed and height above ground to safely autorotate to the ground with no hazard to persons or property on the surface, though because of hazards like wires and obstructions they generally fly around 500 ft in cruise to avoid wires etc but also not much higher to avoid the flow of (much faster moving) fixed wing traffic..helos can legally fly at any height -even 25 ft AGL but usually cruise at 500 ft AGL and sometimes lower- even airplanes can fly legally at 500ft AGL in rural unpopulated areas or 1000 ft regularly in populated areas

    the hobby is pretty much unregulated and anyone with no aviation knowledge at all can fly drones without knowing the hazards involved- new people are entering the hobby every day- so this message needs to be upheld so the newcomers are properly informed..
     
  2. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    I observe common sense any time I fly my quad and I generally agree with the 400ft AGL guidelines. I would only ever go higher if I knew I was clear of all air traffic in a very remote area. I respect the air. I have a PPL (or I should say had as it isn't current). But as a fellow resident of Los Angeles, I would say it takes two to tango. LA is plagued by incessant helicopter traffic that is often too low and much too aggressive for no reason. I live pretty close to the Hollywood sign. My house gets buzzed by tour operators and private pilots several times a day. Many will hover or circle for 10 minutes or more. Personally, I would rather get hit in the head by a rogue Phantom than a helicopter being piloted by Rambo.

    Unfortunately, even the boys in blue aren't beyond reproach. Elysian Park near the police academy, there are LAPD helicopters doing ridiculous maneuvers in non-emergency situations that should never been done over a populated area. When I first saw this guy (see picture below), I thought he was having a mechanical fault and I was about to witness a crash. He was about 100ft off the deck and almost sideways making hard turns back and forth, flying very unpredictably. I had my Phantom about 60ft just above a group of palm trees waiting for him to either crash or go away. Because of the terrain he was actually below my Phantom as he was doing this. He finally started to climb out as if about to leave the area and then came right for the trees at one point only turning when he was about 100ft away! I was standing right under my Phantom. I nearly pooped my pants.

    [​IMG]

    As far as the FAA regulations go, I think we need a wholesale revisit of what takes place below 500ft in uncontrolled space and even in or near controlled airspace.
     
  3. OI Photography

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    Interesting article, and great subject. I think the lesson from that article should be "always be aware of the airspace around your UAV and give any full-sized aircraft in the area a wide berth" rather than just "fly below a certain altitude where it should be safer"
     
  4. Visioneer

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    Another lesson is that apparently a model flyer has no rights when it comes to conflicts with manned aircraft - that may come as a shock to many.
     
  5. theSelf

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    [/quote]Another lesson is that apparently a model flyer has no rights when it comes to conflicts with manned aircraft - that may come as a shock to many.[/quote]

    I don't know if you're being ironic or serious yet surely we can't compare the loss of an average $1-2000 model aircraft/drone to potentially losing lives, losing an eg. $2Million aircraft and property on the ground? It's understandable why manned aircraft have the rights so long as they aren't breaking FAA (or local Authority's) rules which have been carefully thought out and regulated and are there in the first place to maintain safety as best as can be done..yet rc/drone pilots are still in their rights so long as they keep below 400 feet agl and at least 3 miles from an airport..clearly their rights are lost if they break these rules and an incident/accident occurs

    the police helos in LA certainly do fly very low and at times I'm not sure if an engine failure did occur they would be able to autorotate safely so they may be breaking the rules themselves at times and they would be held responsibible should something happen- but yet again they are the police..the tour helo pilots aren't flying as recklessly as that and would be flying around 500 feet agl- I know because I 'm training with a helo tour operator/flight school now and they have to fly at a min of 500 feet agl for safe autorotations should teh need arise (which is rare) but also to avoid obstructions and because of noise abatements..
     
  6. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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  7. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    While the op makes a very valid point the videos given for example are poor. The first one has no description of distance from the heli so it could of been an excited exaggeration on the heli pilots part. The second one was either on purpose or something as the guy was flying the model on an active runway? If it was a road what the heck is a bi plane sky writer doing so close to a road? It was obvious there was people there. Something doesn't add up.
     
  8. Visioneer

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    I certainly would not expect that models should have any "right of way" vs. manned aircraft (flying within FAA rules). I just meant to point out that those who think they have a right to fly any where they want have not considered all the possible outcomes of doing so. Hopefully your post (and examples therein) will open some eyes as to what could happen (and apparently has happened).

    Although many cringe at the thought of any regulations, it's difficult to see how that can be the case forever as UASs proliferate. Of course, there's the risk that regulation could go too far but one positive that might come out of such would be a clearer notion of just where a model flyer can be reasonably assured of being safe. As you've pointed out, there's apparently already a glaring gap in that helis are not held to the 500 or 1000 feet levels. So even if I'm under 400 feet I could be at risk (or put them at risk).

    I live just over the crest of a hill and if I simply pop up above the tree tops to get a panoramic view I could easily be unaware of a heli coming over that crest at low altitude. I can't say that I've actually seen one THAT low, but as I live close to an interstate highway traffic 'copters are not unheard of when there's an accident or backup nearby. Frankly, prior to your post, I don't know that the mere sound of an approaching heli would have prompted me to drop down. I've probably never been above 150' at my house but, as the interstate is 30 feet lower only about 300 feet away, it certainly sounds feasible a heli could be at my 150 feet altitude and still be 180 feet above their video target (the interstate).
     
  9. GMANNZ

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    While the regulations are being worked out gloablly ... I have just started "courtesy" calling the airport control tower and advising them of my location, intentions, heights and geofence areas (IE: park boundaries etc) where I'll be flying IF I am inside the air control zones they cover.... so if police or any complaints, my actions, location and details have already been "notified' to the monitored airspace controllers .... they thought was fine idea when I explained why I was calling.

    Prenotification is way way easier than trying to explain yourself after the police or authorities turnup ... plus makes you look way more professional.
     
    Hottwheells likes this.
  10. Visioneer

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    Perhaps unintended, but discounting the validity of the examples gives some folks all the reason they need to discount the point. There's one short phrase saying the point is valid, and then multiple sentences describing why the examples are weak.

    In both cases, either somebody did something wrong (by commission or omission) or the rules governing the situation were inadequate. And they both involved manned and unmanned aircraft. Do we really need to wait for a perfect example of things going awry before we get the point to fly smart?
     
  11. theSelf

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    there ae plenty of noise abatement areas in the LA area where helos or any aircarft can't fly below 1000' agl or in some cases 500 ' agl to minimize noise on the ground and are adhered to and if not are fined- they just can't do it everywhere obviously..
     
  12. theSelf

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    absolute agreement on this..

    the video of the full scale airplane hitting the model one was at a real airfield- the model plane was hovering over an active runway though it seems there was an event on there with both full scale and model aircraft scheduled to fly and the full scale pilot wasn't aware of the model flying at that particulalar moment- who's at fault-..? either the people on the radios controlling the airspace not warning the full scale pilot or the full scale pilot not listening in to communications/checking 'NOTAMS' (notices to airman of activities at airports)- however you don't need to be on the radio legally in uncontroled airspace as a full scale pilot like this airport seesm to be- so full scale pilots are left to the traditonal 'see and avoid' strategy in uncontrolled airpspace- which is ok when looking out for other full scale aircraft- but very hard until too late to see smaller RC aircraft or birds etc- this could have easily ended in killing the occupants in the full scale plane if it took out the prop, horizontal stabilizer or vertical stabilizer etc- this was a lucky break and example to learn from- as was the incident with the helicopter in Australia- a 'near miss' is too close for comfort and enough to alarm people..we don't need people to be killed to finally get the message do we..?
     
  13. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    As you read in my post I agree completely with the OP on being safe and not chancing a disaster. My intention was not to discount the message, just my observation of the videos. Unfortunately there will always be someone with more money than brains that will push the limits and beyond. Hopefully the FAA will create hobby friendly, but safe operational rules for all hobbyist to abide by or lose the privilege to partake in RC flying.
     
  14. Suwaneeguy

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    Re: full scale helicopter almost hit drone-keep below 400' A

    I kind of get the impression that it was staged.
    Perhaps the real plane pilot had no intention of hitting the RC but it was one of those things that just happened.
    If it wasn't staged, the real plane pilot should have his license yanked.
    For performing an unauthorized fly over at low levels with a crowd of people around.
    Real air show pilots never get that dang close to the public.
     
  15. SteveMann

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    Actually, ATC towers would appreciate knowing where there is model aircraft activity even beyond their airspace. Just as a courtesy. As you say, if anyone questions you, tell them to call the airport tower - 'here's their number'-.