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Staying away from Crowds

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations' started by GOHF, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. GOHF

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    @Nickster got his first commercial flight in today over on this thread here and I wanted to say congratulations on getting licensed and nice work!

    I also wanted to ask the consensus on guidance for staying away from crowds. I see that Nickster noted on his website that he was away from the people to be in compliance with the new FAA regulations.

    My internal 'crowd o meter' would have had me looking to get waaaay closer, like that green field closer to the tents, or even to 'cone off' a section of a quiet parking lot near the action, while still making sure I wasn't flying over people (of course, to get the panorama like he did, one would have to be back a ways to get the whole street covered.)

    From where he's standing if he had a serious malfunction, I'm guessing it would have just cratered into the ground, while if someone set up shop in a parking lot, a drone could spin off a short distance into a crowd or fall onto an adjacent vehicle.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, today I was at a festival and heard the familiar buzzing of a phantom behind me. I turned around and was pretty much face to face with a P3, buzzing around the crowds. At times his bird was eye level with me and while it wasn't packed like a can of sardines, it was definitely not 'staying away from crowds' and I felt my gut clench at a few close calls. After seeing this video on 'hand catching' techniques that starts with a gruesome palm injury, I wouldn't wish that experience on any random passerby (or my insurance coverage.)

    I'd love to hear how folks interpret the proviso about crowds and drones.
     
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  2. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    Crowds and drones don't mix. It sounds like the aircraft you witnessed was grossly negligent in many MANY ways.

    I try to keep a insanely clear area directly below and surrounding my aircraft "just in case". The very last thing you want to do is "be that guy" who accidentally hits and possibly hurts someone with a falling sUAS.

    Speaking in insurance coverage . . . make absolutely sure your policy covers Commercial Operations and Flights over people. The Insurance company will look for any loophole to get out of paying for our own stupidity. Be sure to read ALL of the fine print.
     
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  3. David T

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    I'm with Al on this. I want lots of space. I have the luxury to schedule my shoots when there are few if any people around (before or after business hours). But still, I want space.

    The problem I see in being closer to the action, is some of the action (people) might decide to wander over and see "what's that guy doing?". Suddenly, the drone is over people... now what?
     
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  4. GOHF

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    I certainly felt like he was making poor decisions - a few of the other videos of his I've found show him buzzing around within a body length or two folks on the bridges in town, etc. They mostly knew he was there, but it's nothing I'd feel remotely comfortable with.

    However, with the way I intend to shoot post 107 certification it would be difficult to ensure someone *never* wanders underneath my bird. I expect most of my aerial work to follow much of my traditional photography of places like apartment complexes etc.

    No crowds, no buzzing people, but unless I'm in the wilderness I can't keep folks away absolutely - just with the hobby flying I've done the P4 is like a magnet and I am constantly asking folks out of the corner of my eye to give me a few minutes to finish up as I need to stay focused on my flying.

    For buildings, you can always pick times when folks are typically away, and perhaps some cones like a utility worker could give you a little breathing room, but I suppose I'm just stuck on how to avoid 'people' without avoiding 'humanity.'
     
  5. Fat Daddy

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    Since you asked for how people interpret the provision on crowds...

    I don't know how many people in how small an area makes a crowd, but I think I know one when I see it.

    Under ideal conditions, (weather, lack of birds, lots of satellites etc) I get as close as 100' at 400' altitude for short times near a "crowd of less than 100 people. Larger crowds would move me back as would any other factors.

    I guess it's a gut thing. If things go wrong, ideally, I'd like to be 3000'+ from any human being.

    I have had no issues of any kind but I've only logged about six hours in the air with a Phantom.


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
     
  6. Phax

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    I was at a charity walk this weekend and a guy that has his 333 and 107... (I know cause I talked to him) was flying his P4 directly over the entire crowd (maybe 1000 people). I was surprised that someone with 333 and 107 would be flying over people and he was at one point flying like 10 feet above peoples heads so his lowest altitude was like 16 feet... I was super nervous the entire time.
     
  7. daveisim

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    Phax: I heard about the same story about a week ago here from a person on a charity walk. And talked to another PPL, 333, 107 pilot as he flew 10fit over a group of people at a flea market. He was there selling commercial wares so there is not doubt of his intent of drawing people to him.

    Just to get back on track, the FAA doesn't care about what you or I think constitutes a "crowd", only as put forth in AC107-2:

    "Prohibited Operation Over Persons. Part 107 prohibits a person from flying a small UA directly over a person who is not under a safe cover, such as a protective structure or a stationary vehicle. However, a small UA may be flown over a person who is directly participating in the operation of the sUAS, such as the remote PIC, other person manipulating the controls, a VO, or crewmembers necessary for the safety of the sUAS operation, as assigned and briefed by the remote PIC."

    Plain and simple. You cannot flyover a single person that is not part of your crew, unless you have a waiver.

    If you are flying recreational, then you must follow other rules: Public Law 112-95 Section 336 https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/model_aircraft_spec_rule.pdf

    And in the law, the part that will get you is this:

    "The aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;"

    The nationwide orgamization would tbe the AMA is my best guess, yes?. A copy of the AMA rules: https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/105.PDF

    And the part would be AMA rule B(2): "All pilots shall avoid flying directly over unprotected people, vessels, vehicles or structures and shall avoid endangerment of life and property of others." and rule B(6): "With the exception of events flown under official AMA Competition Regulations, excluding takeoff and landing, no powered model may be flown outdoors closer than 25 feet to any individual, except for the pilot and the pilot's helper(s) located at the flightline"

    So there you go. AFAIK.
     
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  8. kennedye

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    This seems like the sort of thing the FAA should test out; take something the size of a P4, take it up to 400 feet, fly it at max thrust with a strong tailwind, then cut the power and see how far it travels horizontally before it hits the ground, and then suggest that distance as a minimum.
     
  9. Nickster

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    @GOHF thanks for the quote! It took me about 2 weeks of planning for this one. Talked with people for the City I work for, police and fire departments, and department putting on the festival so everyone knew where, when, and who was doing it. I really wanted to use that little green space you saw near the festival but decided it was not a good spot for the very reason you stated. Even with everything I did, I still had to watch out for people that walked through the park outside of my "safe zone". I even purposely only went straight up since I didn't want someone walking under it in case I had an emergency.

    One of the best things you can do if there is any doubt is do what I did to make sure my setup and perimeter were good was contact the local FAA office, tell them your setup, what your flight will entail, and how you will handle keeping people out. I did this. The official is very nice and helpful. He said he would always like to have people check to make sure and make changes if needed for it to be safe for all.

    Also, during the festival while I was working at the City Booth, I had someone come and ask if it would be ok to fly directly over the Main Street where the festival was taking place. I told him no since that was a clear violation. Luckily he didn't since I would have found an officer nearby.

    Thanks again. If anyone wants my checklists and wants to see my log for it, let me know. I think I came up with some fairly good ones that I will definitely use again.

    -Nick


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  10. kennedye

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    I'd be interested in the checklist, always looking for good examples.
     
  11. Nickster

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    I will download them here in a few on this thread. Be watching!


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