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To VLOS or not to VLOS...

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by Andrea, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. Andrea

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    To VLOS or not to VLOS, that is the question.

    I read lots of post where people are questioning about flying VLOS or not.
    Every argumentation seem to be (more or less) reasonable, with someone pointing to the FAA rules and some other to the "experience" of the pilot or to the enormous quantity of electronics (IMU, GPS, Compass) that "should" make the flight flawlessly.

    I am not on this or that side, but not long ago I had an issue with my P3A.
    I had lifted off since a couple of minutes, the craft was very within VLOS when the compass failed. I am not an experienced pilot, I have probably 120 flights or so under my belt, all of them with my P3A (which is absolutely an easy craft to pilot, since every movement is assisted by a bunch of sensors) therefore when the craft started wobbling around I got really nervous.
    I switched to ATTI but it was very windy, so it was quite difficult to keep the bird in place and (I must admit) I was flying above a few houses. The space to land was very narrow.

    Luckily all ended up well, but that day I realized the risks of fling beyond VLOS.
    What if the compass have failed when the bird was where I could not see it? What if the compass should have failed, and I could not find my exact way back? What if the DJI GO App should freeze and require a tablet reboot (it was something which happened quite often in the early days of my P3A) while in ATTI mode with a windy day???

    It happens to me to see some cool footage taken in great places (I often dig youtube in search of ideas/places to fly), but many of these are cities. I saw cool footages of NYC (my sister lives there, and I'd really LOVE to fly my P3 down there) as well of VENICE (Italy, which is where I live), but these are crowded areas, and I am sure that if my P3 should fell from the sky hitting someone in the head, well, it could really hurt badly. Or damage someone else property.

    By the way, if for any reason a "drone" falling from the sky should injury one of my daughters, I would really get angry with the drone owner.

    That said, flying beyond VLOS is a really cool experience (if you have the proper space/area). I have never flown anything bigger than my P3, but flying FPV sometimes really makes the magic to make me feel like I'm "there" in the sky.

    But I'm very careful lately.
    And all I can say is: PLEASE, be careful you too...
     
  2. fastfed

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    if I'm at an altitude of say 100 feet, completely away from any structures,trees or radio towers, whether im in VOS or not, as long as I have signal I'd be as safe.
    If the drone falls from the sky I have zero control either way.
    I still wouldn't go out of VOS and fly over a pool party with tons of people. Part of the fun is the distance these things can go, truth is if you're not filming imo, the phantom is kind of boring, its not fast, doesn't do any sort of tricks or high speed turns.

    I like flying over the everglades a few miles out and seeing some gators :)
     
  3. Multicoptertec

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    It's risky to fly beyond LOS. You can only see what the camera sees, assuming you have a good feed. With the FAAs new certificate for commercial use, the rules are pretty clear if you are going that route. In the future, the FAA will have to address this issue, how else will I get my Amazon deliveries?
     
  4. fastfed

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    do you really see this being the future? I like the idea but just cannot see it happening
     
  5. Multicoptertec

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    I think it MAY happen one day, just like self driving cars. But we have long way to go. I can't help but think back to watching Star Trek, and thinking how cool those communicators were, but there was no way they could ever be real. Well, look what happened.
     
  6. Dronason

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    Apart dreaming of a world surrounded by drones flying over us, it will probably remain as it is, a hobby for some people. It is an expensive and complicate hobby. In some place there would be such automatic drones for delivery to remote area, that make sens. But having the need for lights at each cross over cities to manage Amazon, DHL, and UPS drones traffic, I don't think so.

    Some people use a drone to build some very nice video, usually VLOS is sufficient. Some, including me like also to go further more to explore the area from above at a fraction of cost of helicopter or airplane. It is all matter of where you fly and over who/what you fly.

    What comes to my mind:
    Don't fly over area where it make no sense.
    Depending on your country there could be in any case need for a mandatory insurance to cover damage you could do (I know, there is no price for a life or an injury). So the minimum is to have one.
    The technology is another issue. Yes, GPS, IMU, live video, but there is need to be a little ready about a failure of one of it. Don't forget that a day or another it will finally fail. Take care of your bird, check it. Take care of it, replace what is damaged.
    Practice mini drones during the winter to improve ATTi flight capabilities. Start inside and then outside with minimum of wind of coarse.
    If you don't feel the surrounding condition, just don't fly.
    And as usual, just think to what you would think if the situation was reverted, that's a matter of respect.

    At every floor you hear the guy falling from the roof saying "up to now, all is fine". We all know what will be the end. But that don't mean you should not go to the roof. You should define your limit about what is reasonable.
     
  7. tcope

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    As far as hobby use, the FAA only recommends flying within VLOS, it's not a requirement. To each their own on this subject.

    I'm not 100% sure that the Phantom needs the compass reading to RTH. I could very well be incorrect about this though. I'm hoping even with that failure that initiating the RTH would have solved any issue of getting the drone back. If this freak thing happens you should also be able to fly back using the feed from the onboard camera. So this is a rare situation with several ways to bring the Phantom back.


    Regardless of anything else, no one should be flying over anyone. This should not have anything to do with VLOS.

    When I fly I'm almost always in the middle of no where... with no one around. That is when I almost always fly beyond VLOS. If I'm around people I would maintain VLOS and give extra care to where I'm flying.

    So my view is that each person needs to make this decision and consider where and how they are flying. If a person never wants to go beyond VLOS, this is fine as well.
     
    Andrea likes this.
  8. BayouBill

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    This is a good example of responsible distance flying. If something goes wrong there is no harm done except to the drone. This issue has been hashed out many times on this forum and it appears that the FAA requirements are just safety guidelines. But the intent is very clear: SAFETY. The AMA has been in intensive negotiation with the FAA and they raised the issue of the guidelines you agree to when you register. The FAA's response was that if you are a member of the AMA and adhere to their safety rules you are in compliance. Their safety guidelines also require VLOS and FPV only with a qualified spotter standing next to you.

    I routinely fly above 400 feet with sailplanes. The whole point of sailplane flying is to catch a thermal and ride it as high as possible. It is still LOS flight but I'm not adhering to the 400' guideline. The AMA is OK with this exception to the guidelines. My attitude with this is that people have been flying fixed wing planes for decades and the FAA was not concerned until the recent proliferation of fly-out-of-the-box drones.
     
    #8 BayouBill, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
    N017RW likes this.
  9. Andrea

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    It does for sure: GPS gives position, compass direction.

    Very wise.
     
  10. Vertigo

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    No its not. Speaking as a RC DLG pilot and full scale glider pilot, I respectfully disagree. Once you catch a proper thermal that has released, getting "as high as possible" is neither fun, nor a challenge, nor safe. The thermal will go up until cloud base, which is typically 1500-2000m, possibly more depending where you live. The only 'challenge' is being able to see the glider at that height. But of course, at that altitude, you are flying among full scale planes.

    Ive encountered and had to evade RC sailplanes while flying a full scale, and it doesnt make me happy. Its one thing if its a small foamie , but Ive encountered 4-5 meter span composite models and thats no longer funny.

    If you are going to shoot for altitude records, please do it somewhere safe, if such a place exists. Id rather suggest you try DLG as an alternative way to enjoy RC soaring, and without a need to go so high.

    The vast majority of those where flown from designated RC fields, which are marked on our maps and we know we have to exercise caution there (even though the legal limit there is 120m in my country, but we know they go higher). Moreover, a decade ago there where just a handful of people flying large RC craft, no where near the millions of drones being sold today. So the problem isnt the same. The FAA wasnt fuzzed about anything (and probably didnt exist) a century ago, that doesnt mean a similar hands off approach could work in today's crowded skies.
     
  11. Vertigo

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    I can. In Europe all gliders and increasingly private planes and helicopters have a FLARM system. Its basically a GPS unit, a little computer and radio/receiver. It broadcasts its own position, altitude and heading to all nearby airplanes, and if two are close and on a potential collision course, it sounds an alarm and you get to see the necessary info on a display. Its very simple, but very effective.

    I dont see why drones couldnt be equipped with the same. It would allow them to detect and avoid full scale planes, as well as other drones, and vice versa. Such a device wouldnt even have to be built in to the drone itself, its probably enough if the ground station has a built-in unit. And for all I care, it could be internet based via your cell phone and plugged in to ATC's systems.

    A solution like that, with of course the drone automatically descending/evading in case of a potential collision, would reduce the risk of a collision with a full scale (the biggest risk by far) by orders of magnitude.