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No night flight - why?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SteveMann, Dec 25, 2014.

  1. SteveMann

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    Why is everyone so quick to say that when allowed, commercial drone flight should be daytime only? Where is the logic to support that?
    In manned aircraft, night landings get special attention in training and in currency requirements because landing a manned aircraft at night has some physiological challenges that do require different training. But that is all from inside the cockpit. When landing at night it is particularly difficult to determine the height above the runway and can cause an early flare and subsequent hard landing. But, if you can see your Phantom's lights well enough to keep it in sight and away from obstacles, why should there be any restrictions on night flight?
     
  2. locoworks

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    not likely, but if you lost the lighting it could prove fun??
     
  3. TimmyG94

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    Commercial drones will be fully autonomous and flying by GPS waypoints. As far as I know, GPS works equally well at night as it does during the day. :D

    However, further advancements in drone technology will probably incorporate some kind of visual-based system for navigation as an adjunct to GPS guidance. For example, an Amazon commercial drone descending into a canyon to deliver a package in someone's driveway will likely lose contact with most GPS satellites, so a visual-guidance system will need to take control of the machine. In that case, night flying will pose significant challenges because the navigation camera won't be able to avoid obstacles it can see like trees, rooftops, buildings, etc.

    I'd say night-flying by an autonomous drone is at least 15-20 years away from being economical and reliable for the average business owner. Then again, LIDAR could be a game changer if it can get small enough and affordable enough for the average commercial drone.
     
  4. HailStorm

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    Can you see trees, telephone/electrical wires at night?

    What other FAA certifications do not allow for night flying, do you know?
     
  5. IrishSights

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    +1. This is why, you cannot see clearly in the environment you are flying in, whether you can see its lights or not, it is irrelevant. Commercial or not that is why it is illegal in the UK
     
  6. IrishSights

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    Lidar-lite exists and it is only a few grams in weight. http://www.dragoninnovation.com/project ... ulsedlight
     
  7. Prylar Bek

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    Well and stated and I agree. I find it very difficult however to see mine at night and even with lights on the skids its a bit disorienting for me
     
  8. Buk

    Buk

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    I enjoy night flying and I'm sorry to see it restricted. I have a white LED headlight and have played around with downward facing LEDs.

    I'm thinking the problem will be with the manned aircraft being unable to properly judge distance from and configuration of "drones" to adequately file incident reports.

    That situation will be exacerbated by Phantom pilots covering their LEDs to prevent glow onto the lens of their belly mounted cameras.

    I'm also afraid peoples' reactions will be negative when they feel their privacy is being invaded by nighttime flying multi-rotors.
     
  9. Buckaye

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    I am 100% certain my neighbor would shoot it down lol!
     
  10. PhantomFanatic

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    I agree with both commercial, delivery drones and hobby flying. With orientation lights, at the minimum, night flying can be safe and loads of fun. Mine has very bright LEDs that light up the ground, so landings are easy. The only caution is not doing this a day after getting your Phantom. The other, fly high enough to avoid collisions with trees, power lines, etc.

    If allowed! I see no reason why commercial flight would be banned. For pizza delivery, night flying will be a must.

    I really enjoy thinking up new lighting options. Photography is mostly out, but seeing your personal UFO, in the sky, is a delight! Try it, you might like it!
     
  11. justin00

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    For us Australia, CASA who looks after aviation stuff (like the FAA) gives us a little yellow sheet of paper with the rules on it.
    Says to only fly in daylight.

    I'm not sure if that is an actual rule or just there recommendation...

    Anyways...I may or may not have flown at night a few times and it was fine... If anything it was easier to see the quad..= I wouldn't do it at a new area though.. but I was very familiar with the park as I went there almost every day.
     
  12. SteveMann

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    Part 103 Ultralight aircraft and Light Sports pilots are restricted to daytime only, Other pilots have to demonstrate recent night landings before flying with passengers.

    There is no need to see everything if you know your environment and can see well enough to take off and land. One of my first commercial inquiries was to shoot video of a well lighted parking lot at night, there was absolutely nothing about that flight that darkness would have made it dangerous.

    As I said earlier, night flight gets more attention for manned aircraft because of the difficulty to evaluate your height above ground during landing. From inside the aircraft. Part of the training is to land without a landing light - and it is a challenge even for very experienced pilots. From inside the aircraft. Not a problem with drones. Part 103 Ultralights have no electrical system so wouldn't have anti-collision or position lights. Light Sports pilots are restricted to daytime only because night landings are not part of the training. Again the problem is from inside the aircraft.

    So, why is everyone so quick to accept daytime only for drones?
     
  13. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    The official line on no flying at night would be another part of the drones are airplanes kind of thinking.
    Commercial plane flying requires a higher standard than recreational flying so commercial droning requires a pilot's licence.
    Plane flying at night is more demanding than daytime so it follows for the FAA that night time must be off limits.
    Actually the safety of night flying will vary with the pilot's expertise and the flying environment.
    Flying in some places with few obstructions should be as safe as in daylight.
    While there are some places that it would be quite unwise.
    Another example of one-size-fits-all rule making that avoids proper consideration for what is really involved.