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What is a commercial operator?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Suwaneeguy, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. Suwaneeguy

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    People love to take things out of context and use what they think it is and apply that to what they want it to mean.
    The FAA is doing just this.
    The FAA says that, because you used your "aircraft" "for hire", that makes it a commercial business.
    However, taking a closer look at the FAA's own definition of "commercial operator" we find a slightly different meaning.


    from
    http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c= ... .1.1.0.1.1

    "Engages in the carriage by aircraft..........."

    Does this part of the definition mean then, the transportation of goods and or people? Or just the fact the craft was in the air?
    The FAA, IMO, has taken the base definition of the word "commercial" and made that to mean "The exchange of money for services rendered.".

    You have a yard sale. Are you a business for doing so?
    Technically and legally, no.
    But if you put those same items inside a store which is licensed as a business, then yes you are.
    Such as a consignment shop.

    If I stand in front of a house, take a photo of it, and get paid for it, that's not a big deal.
    But, if I put that same camera on a drone, send it 50 feet up in the air and take a photo, suddenly it becomes illegal?

    IMO, The US congress needs to clamp down on the authority of the FAA over RCMA's regardless of use.
    Under 400 feet is fair game and the FAA has no jurisdiction.
    Period.
     
  2. Narrator

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    The US is still behind other countries that have drone rules in place. Internationally, aviation rules eventually align.
    In places where drone rules exist, commercial means making a profit from using a drone.
    People have tried to contest it technically, but without success.

    The flip side is that it's still not being enforced. But if it does eventually, I wouldn't want to be excluded from it based on past offenses.
     
  3. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    The whole idea that the exchange of money makes the (otherwise quite legal) photography illegal is a serious issue to deal with. It's not about an aviation safety issue. It's not that flying a drone and taking photos is illegal. It's that charging for the photos is illegal.
    Can you imagine something like that for land based photographers? Yes, you can use your camera - but it's illegal to sell your photos. No-one would obey such a law because it's plain stupid and completely unreasonable. No-one would put up with such a stupid restriction on trade.
    And it's the same for drone photography. The technology is fantastic. It puts aerial photography in the hands of the common user for a tiny fraction of what it's cost previously. It's too useful to ignore.
    If you can fly safely and legally take photos, how can it be justified that selling the pix is illegal?
    The FAA restrictions requiring full pilot's licences for the 13 exemptions they have granted is even more stupid.
    It's 99% irrelevant.
    Stupid and irrelevant laws will not be respected.
    They would be better off and safety would be better served by having realistic rules.
    The longer they try to force this nonsense on users, the more people will treat them with the contempt they deserve
     
  4. Fyod

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    Exactly. Taking photos is not "commercial work" as defined by most international aviation law.
    The outdated laws mention commercial work as transportation of goods, transportation of people, sightseeing (taking people onboard to sightsee), showering pesticides on crops etc. It is very obvious that the laws pertain to large aircraft, where you have to undoubtedly know what you're doing, have all permits, communicate with towers etc.
    Plus - all these commercial services expect that you have to charge the flight itself, because there is an array of costs pertaining to lifting an airplane into the air.
    Whereas in the case of a lightweight UAV, we do not need to charge for the flight time. We don't even have to charge for the photo/video. I personally only charge for editing and the end product. The UAV is only a way to get the camera into the air. I can take the photo/video from a tall building aswell. But a pilot cannot transport goods in any other (aerial) way. A UAV is a tool, not a means.
    The difference being that there are hundreds of ways to take a photo, whereas there's only one way to do air transport. In other words, the photo is the important factor for the price, not the flight itself. The cost of the flight is a couple bucks.
    You could also take commercial photos from an airplane without having to have a permit to do so. Otherwise, any aerial photo in history sold to magazines is illegal, becuase the photographer did not have a permit to do aerial work. That's what the twisted "new laws" are basically saying.
    Therefor I can understand why UAV transport is commercial work, but photo/video should not be.

    If you set a GoPro to take continuous photo, then throw the GoPro 30ft. in the air, you will get photos. Is the GoPro then an aircraft?

    The best comparison for airplanes and UAVs in my opinion is trucks, cars and bicycles.
    As a bicycle rider, you have rules you need to obey (some laws), but do not need a permit to be on the road with others. You can also carry lightweight transport (messengers) without the need for a commercial trucking license. You can use the bike commercially and charge for services without permission. I do not have to have a driver's license to take video from a bicycle on the road. I can charge for that video.
    As a car driver, you need a permit, car license, pay road tax. You can use the car as a means for commercial income. But if you use a car to get to work, it is not commercial, even though you get paid for being there. I can film from a car, but need a license to drive it.
    As a truck driver, you need more complicated permission, licenses, experience. Basically all income is commercial.

    In all cases you can be fined for not obeying rules/laws. You can also be insured, in case you cause damage.
    All three can be used for sport, recreation, as a hobby, as well as commercially. If you have a race car or truck, you do not need a road license (usually), you do not pay road tax.
    Race cars/trucks can also charge for services, ie. advertisement, without the need for permits/licenses.
     
  5. Narrator

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    A taxi driver is still driving a car, but under your idea, he shouldn't need a taxi license to do so. Driving commercially attracts a raft of additional risk. My father worked in insurance, and the actuaries who calculate risk always assign broader risk when something is used commercially rather than privately. Business use apparently attracts bigger and/or more frequent claims. A part of controlling that is licensing. Yes it's a racket, I agree, but it's not black an white, it's also an actuarial calculation.
     
  6. Fyod

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    Yes, but a taxi bicycle (Riksha) does not need a driver's license.
    Either way, carrying people is a different ballpark in any transport, due to their endangerment.

    I would not be mad if hobby/commercial insurance had different pricing (it already does here), because it is correctly expected that commercial flights will happen more often.

    What is not being addressed is the weight, flight time, speed, height.
    All these factors become very different if comparing a Phantom and a Cesna or a bike and a car.

    I am also not against permits, as long as the highest authority (CAA) clearly states all factors and rules.
     
  7. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    That analogy doesn't hold for drone work.
    Is an experienced commercial operator doing a real estate shoot at 50 feet (illegal according to the FAA) going to be more risky than any over-adventurous but legal recreational non-commercial photo pilot?
    The commercial operator is almost always going to be a safer flyer because he respects the tools of his trade.
     
  8. Fyod

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    That would depend on the insurer to make that assessment and price accordingly.
    Time will tell whigh group is riskier, although I do agree with you.
    The "work" I have done was very carefull and of course highest priority was not to damage my tools. This will not apply to a kid that got one for Xmas, although he has as much a right to fly as I do (FAA aside).
    If I could get a simple permit that says I have read and understood the rules, great, I'd get one. But I see no reason for me to pertain to commercial rules for DHL and flights in Boeing airliners.

    Currently the fine here for commercial flight without a permit is $250K.
    This is also obviously a fine for large commercial companies. It would ruin a UAV operator's life.
    Allegedly the local CAA had fined a couple people in the "hundreds of dollars" range. It could just be a scare tactic though, noone has admitted to getting fined. Someone should challenge it at court, if true.
     
  9. Hughie

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    Context : CAA, from http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/Informatio ... 014190.pdf

    Regulatory Enforcement
    7.1
    The CAA takes breaches of aviation seriously and will seek to prosecute in cases where dangerous and illegal flying has taken place. The first such prosecution in the UK took place in April 2014 when an individual was convicted of two offences including flying a small
    unmanned surveillance aircraft within 50 metres of a structure (bridge with traffic) (Article 167of the Air Navigation Order 2009).
    The individual was fined £800 at at a District Magistrate Court, plus costs of £3,500.

    7.2
    This conviction followed the case of a photographer accepting a caution for using a SUA for commercial gain without permission. The photographer had sold footage from his quadcopter to media organisations. More information on the regulation of SUA, including a list of operators with permission to fly SUA for commercial use, is available at http://www.caa.co.uk/uas
     
  10. Narrator

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    Like a taxi driver, who spends 60 hours a week driving, a commercial drone operator will be spending a lot more time in the air than a hobbyist. And because the commercial operator is charging for his time or for his product, 3rd party insurers more likely to be hit with escalated claims. These factors and more are in the actuarial calculations.

    I wish I'd studied statistical maths - actuaries get paid a fortune.
     
  11. Narrator

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    What I'd really like to know is...

    If a hobbyist is flying and accidentally captures something newsworthy, as people often do on their smartphones, can they sell it to a TV news outlet in the same way? I'd love to see that contested in court.