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Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponders?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TickTock, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. TickTock

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    With the inevitability of misuse resulting in a knee-jerk regulation reaction. Should DJI and other UAV manufacturers pro-actively add ceiling limits (say 1000ft above HL) in their control units? How about aircraft transponders so other aircraft will see them? How many here would see either of these as a unacceptable limitation to their usefulness?
     
  2. mroberts

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    A user-definable ceiling above the launch altitude would be very handy.

    Rules will vary between countries and depend on your level of authorisation, so a global, high level limit imposed by DJI is useless.

    Transponder requirements are similar.
     
  3. Curtster

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    I served a number of years as our AMA club's Safety Officer, and part of my job was to write a safety related article for our newsletter. As our runway was pretty close to a freeway, we had a self imposed "no fly zone" over the freeway, and in my article I always mentioned that we were "one crash away from losing our club" if that crash happened on the freeway... Especially if it caused an accident.
    What I'm getting at, is that I think we are "one crash away" from massive regulation of our hobby. If any r/c model, quad, plane, helicopter... Whatever, hits an aircraft, especially if it causes an accident, you can imagine the Federal response. It's bad enough that when Obama comes into town they ground all aircraft, r/c included, within 30 miles with a TFR (temporary flight restriction) issuance.
    We need to be our own police, because we will not like it when they are policing us.

    JMHO,
    Curt
     
  4. ted35

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    As an air traffic controller for 30 years and my wife works right next to the Western region UAV specialist for the FAA I can say the transponder requirement would be a terrible idea. Why? If required the equipment (txpndr and antenna) would be too large and heavy for the Phantom to carry. Also it would open the door for RC regulation/fines/licensing. Transponders require constant certifications requiring time on your part and a sizable hole in your wallet. No...if txpndr's were required I'd have to call it quits or fly in violation of these new F.A.R.'s. Right now our only form of regulation is AC-91-57 which is only advisory in nature...why ask for more regulation?
     
  5. martcerv

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    I would like to have a user selectable altitude limit within naza, without OSD I really dont even know how high 400ft is and I try my best to stay below this. If we could have a user selectable altitude limit above our take off point it would be usefull for those that want to be within the legal limits but judging by eye is not very easy. If the phantom could be set to not allow it to fly above your set limit this would also let the authorities see DJI are doing something to help people stay within their countries regulations. With this option it would also make it pretty clear for anyone breaking these rules that they are doing it knowingly as it would be up to the user to research what their limits are and for them to choose to stick to them or not.

    Then if people get individually prosecuted for breaking the local laws maybe we wont all get punished for others stupidity. Im sure a good majority of users would happily enjoy their hobby within rc limitations and making it easier to do so would make it look much better to the people that could come down very hard and ban this for everyone.
     
  6. TickTock

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    Well said. This is my feeling, too. Seeing how this country reacts whenever someone abuses a gun, I am very concerned about this hobby's future. We just don't have the kind of power the NRA has to combat this sort of thing. The best thing we can do is be proactive and take steps now. Adding a programmable ceiling limit would be easy and dramatically reduce the chance of an incident. Furthermore, when an incident does occur it is easier for the community to distance themselves from the culprit so hopefully the law will be satisfied prosecuting the individual instead of the entire country.
     
  7. Racklefratz

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    As a licensed US pilot, I agree with the spirit of this discussion, and, in fact, I've posted similar concerns already about this.

    I also agree with Ted35; transponders are NOT the way to go. For one reason, if one of our UAVs was up flying around at altitudes where a transponder would be useful and legally required, the controllers would see it on radar, but it would be out of our sight. What's the point? Does anyone reasonably expect controllers to start issuing "traffic avoidance" vectors to real airplanes so they can avoid the UAVs wandering around the sky? UAVs will be banned from the sky altogether before that happens.

    The comments about recurring maintenance and inspections for transponders are also relevant. Aviation transponders "talk" to ATC radar and other aircraft, if they're properly equipped. You don't even want to know how much such equipment costs. Additionally, any transponders used in US controlled airspace have to be inspected periodically, and repaired if they're not in spec. I expect rules are similar elsewhere. And they're too heavy for anything like a Phantom, to have the necessary power output to be usable. This is not the route we want to go - we don't want anything like government-regulated avionics in our hobby.

    I don't have any magic solutions, but this issue is real, and with the exponential growth in popularity of UAVs worldwide, unless users can exercise the operational common sense required to stay out of trouble, that's exactly what's going to happen. User-settings for max altitude is workable only when users would use them, much like more gun laws, which only affect responsible gun owners. The outlaws don't care. We see examples now on YouTube of proud UAV flyers who post videos of their "drones" flying above 1000 ft AGL and above clouds in populated areas, where they've lost visual contact with their aircraft. Even with FPV, their visibility is limited to one direction. "See and avoid" is impossible under those conditions, and this is an accident waiting to happen.

    I've said before, and I'll repeat it, the first time one of our UAVs goes through the windshield of a real airplane, any airplane, even if it's a little single-engine tail-dragger making a Saturday morning $100 Hamburger run, regulatory business will pick up briskly. What's needed is some way to get the word out to the cowboys among us that their behavior could very well do us all in. Even if all RTF UAVs came with hard altitude limitations, the DIY crowd could circumvent that by just flying in manual mode. It gets down to common sense or banning all UAVs, at the end of the day, IMO.
     
  8. TickTock

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    I think the ceiling limit can come from the factory enabled (safety on) - requiring the operator to explicitly edit it to enable higher altitude flying (with a nice warning message popup). Can be conservative - say 150ft and leave it up to the owner to increase if local laws allow.
     
  9. Racklefratz

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    Yep - in a perfect world. And I agree that 150 ft would be a reasonable max ceiling for a Phantom.

    Problem is, these guys out there now trying to set altitude records would make it their business to turn off any altitude limits first thing out of the box, and then, there ya go, we're back where we started.
     
  10. Roadkilt

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    YouTube is full of people dangerously using hand lasers, propane tanks, bottle rockets, flares, etc, all items that have plenty of warnings and 95% of the time are safe and valuable. Dangerous flying has to be put into the same category as drunk driving, texting/talking driving, careless firearms, unsupervised camp fires, tossed cigarette butts from car windows etc. ie, stupid, hazardous, but should you punish the sane to prevent that 5%? I don't think that group will change behavior because they already know its wrong, they just don't care. There was already a report last week of a quad (and they showed a picture of a phantom!) interfering in the flight path of Vancouver International Airport. Unbelievable. That guy could cause the death of hundreds at worst, or force the banning of urban flying of quads at best. That said, the wide angle video off GoPro makes it hard to judge height in a video. I have shot plenty at 100 meters high that looks like its from a plane. So make sure before you tear a strip off a YouTube video that they really did go,out of bounds.
     
  11. Racklefratz

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    My reference to people trying for UAV altitude records was primarily based on a YouTube video featuring a Canadian air traffic controller (possibly the same report you mention) who described a situation in which actual commercial aircraft pilots had to take evasive action on approach to landing to avoid a "drone" flying around up there.

    Search YouTube for "RC altitude record" and you'll get a lot of hits. Here's one:

    [​IMG]

    These are the people who will end up causing the rest of us trouble. There's just no excuse for things like this.
     
  12. auck

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    i agree that it is those who are reckless will bring heavy regulations to the RC world. with that said, even though i would prefer to have us regulating ourselves, there has to be enforceable regulations in place to prevent people from being reckless. if you think about it this way, driving is a privilege, not a right, and it is heavily regulated, but the regulations keep us safe. those who break the laws are punished, and that in turn keeps us from being too reckless ourselves. not that it will completely prevent stupid people from doing stupid things, but it sure does help minimize problems when you have to start thinking about the consequences that you face.

    i agree that there should be a max ceiling for RC crafts. it appears that for the most part, the global consensus is about 300-400 feet. i also think that all RC crafts should be registered if it is capable of flying above that ceiling. it would be after the fact, but God help the person who's RC caused an accident because they were an idiot and flew it above the set ceiling.

    transponders won't work even if we somehow managed to make it small and light enough to fit on an RC craft like the phantom. commercial pilots traveling at speeds over 200 mph will never be able to spot a tiny craft like a phantom and that would end up diverting the airplane drastically. not to mention how is the air traffic controller going to keep the RC crafts out of the flight lanes of an aircraft? there is no way the air traffic controller can communicate with the RC operator.
     
  13. ted35

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    I've seen a number of references to "local laws" governing RC aircraft altitudes. Just to be clear...as soon as you lift off your aircraft belongs in a) uncontrolled airspace or b) the federal NAS (national airspace system). At no time does any local state, county, city, neighborhood, house...etc have any governing authority over how high you fly your aircraft. Any violations are Federal..not local.
     
  14. martcerv

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    With local I meant local as in your country, seeing people here are from all over the world. This makes each nation have its own laws which may be national, federal or whatever they call it. May not be the best way to say it but I think when talking globally each country would have its own national laws which may be considered as local to that country. I didnt mean as in local council, county etc but people just need to check their own national laws. Some states may have different laws too so its not always going to be a single national or federal law either but its up to the pilot ro make sure they are aware of all the laws in the area they are flying.
     
  15. ogmios

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    Negative Nelly posting here...

    It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. As the hobby expands greatly due to more affordable acquisition cost and very little "training", the risk for accidents will increase exponentially. Personally, I do welcome regulations, because it then means that overzealous law makers won't be able to simply make up their own rules and it may force sellers to provide better information when purchasing (How many first time flyers knew that it was "illegal" to fly a UAV above 400ft or for commercial purpose? - I didn't).

    The bigger problem is the stigma that is now attached to UAV's: Privacy violators. We won't be grounded because of an accident, we will be grounded because of the bad 5 letter word: DRONE. Now, everyone is obsessed with their privacy and think that all of us are a bunch of pervs spying on our neighbors. Never mind that most of us probably fly in open fields and away from people's houses, try to do some cool cinematography or use the UAV for some type of business aspect. Never mind that a GoPro field of view is so wide you can't see people very well until you're 10ft away from them, never mind that there is no zoom, never mind that all the technical aspects of the Phantom/camera setup doesn't make it the ideal "perv" tool and never mind that the Phantom would only record what is available to see publicly 90% of the time. .. People will perceive it as such.

    Google gets away with street photography and aerial images, but they have a few more billions than we do. Our hobby's lobby is probably not strong, organized and deep pocketed enough to fight the inevitable laws that will be passed. Media will peddle the sensationalism smut and lawmakers will follow like Lemmings. Our good neighbors will be appeased and the RC "peasants" will be left high and dry to reminisce about the good ol' days of flying in the wind and free...

    Don't worry about the idiots that fly too high, above people, roads and freeways. They will not kill the hobby. Perception will, or at least make it not fun anymore.
     
  16. ogmios

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    There is too much grey area and contradictions in addition to very blurry local laws. Air rights are generally for flights above 500ft. FAA doesn't like if you fly your UAV above 400ft. If you respect FAA rules, then you are 100ft short to qualify for federal air rights.
    Does that mean that you are now subject to local laws? What about recording and FPV? Do local laws supersede regardless of altitude? (Some state lawmakers tried to pass laws with verbiage that basically encompassed satellite imagery - Which obviously would be above 500ft).

    Just a lot of questions that none of us really has a clear answer on :-(
     
  17. Racklefratz

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    "Clear answers" often come from correct terminology. The term "air rights" has no relevance in aviation. It's a legal term defined as "A right to develop the space above a piece of property, building, or other structure, such as a highway. Often used in the plural."

    At least for US airspace, "500 ft" is similarly specious - no relevance at all in this context in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) or in everyday flying.

    And, a previous poster was correct; if states attempt to make laws regarding airspace restrictions, they're headed for a smackdown. All US airspace is owned by the Feds, as is all pilot certification. It would be a truly ludicrous situation if an aircraft took off from the east coast of the US, headed for California, and had to deal with a different set of flight regulations each time it crossed a state border. It doesn't happen.

    That's your opinion, and as an FAA-licensed pilot with some real-world aviation experience, I disagree.

    As things stand now, FAA is taking the position that "hobby drones" are toys, and not paying much attention to them in their proposed rule-making. But YouTube is full of videos of idiots flying their RC FPV models at over 1,000 ft AGL in populated areas - a really bad idea. Here's a recent example posted a few days ago, in which the guy claims his airplane exceeded 4,000 ft, and the video would seem to support his claim:

    http://youtu.be/PRc-HtwjbOM

    At these altitudes, FPV is all he's got - he can't see his model from the ground anymore, and real airplanes are up there as well. The RC guy won't see those either, so he can't stay out of their way.

    The business of cowboys on the ground FPVing around up there with real airplanes is a recipe for disaster. Eventually, one of these RC models will wind up in the cockpit of a real plane, and business will pick up briskly at that point in terms of regulation. Collision avoidance is one of the primary reasons so many aviation regulations exist, and there are no regulations to prevent this kind of situation from occurring at present.
     
  18. ogmios

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    Thanks for trying to clarify things, but I am still unclear where we fall under? We're talking about "airspace" but by FAA recommendations we are not supposed to be in it. The term "aviation" is used in connection to federal laws: If I cannot fly above 400ft, how can I technically be in Air space that is regulated by federal government? If I am not within "federal air space", then what jurisdiction do I fall in?
    Air rights still has a place in the conversation about restrictions on our hobby, because most local laws attempted to be passed are about privacy issues and not altitude restrictions. If I fly over someone's house below 500ft, am I infringing upon their "air rights" and am I technically "trespassing"? If I am in a public park and flying above the park, but my FPV can see people's backyard? See the conundrum and why I dont think anyone has clear answers yet?

    You took my sentence too literally and missed the point :) Of course, we should be worried about the idiots. My point was that even though we haven't seen an accident with significant magnitude yet, laws and regulations will be passed way before that, simply because in the court of public opinion, a UAV is a Drone and a Drone is a bad thing. So, what I was saying is that chances are that the hobby will be significantly restricted way before a major accident happen, simply because of perception and also not because of altitude concerns (Which in my opinion is indeed a grave concern), but because of privacy concerns.
     
  19. ogmios

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    This one article is one of many out there:
    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/201 ... hoestrings

    Shows my point that the restrictions are being pushed for privacy concerns, more than for the safety issue. Also, shows the grey area that we fall under and that no one has a clear answer yet (Because of that difference between 400ft and 500ft).

    And also my point that Air Rights are indeed relevant to the conversation. ;-)

    Also, just came across this site that has some comprehensive info (Of course, let's do our own research of the facts)
    http://nowayfaa.org/
     
  20. Racklefratz

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    Re: Should multi's have ceiling limits? Aircraft transponde

    While it may be true that any "restrictions" being proposed now may be based on perceived privacy concerns, most of it comes from media hype. The safety issue, OTOH, is real, and is not being addressed. The flying public takes safety for granted, but once there's blood in the cockpit, and there will be if things continue the way they are now, stand by. It won't be the states in play then, it'll be the Feds, in a big way.

    That "grey area" is non-existent. [​IMG] Apparently, you missed what I said before about "500 ft". Repeating, an altitude of "500 ft" is irrelevant to anything in US aviation, regulatory or operationally.

    That's incorrect. Has nothing whatsoever to do with flying. It's a term referring to construction above existing structures. We're not discussing building anything here. [​IMG]