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  #1  
Old 03-25-2018, 10:54 AM
Brantel's Avatar
Brantel Brantel is offline
 
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Location: Newport, TN
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Default UAVS...you know Drones, RC Aircraft, etc.

In the past I have not really given much thought to the danger that improper UAV operations might create as it relates to our GA activities.

Recently I got interested in the latest drone technology and true to my normal form I set out to learn everything I can about them, the rules, etc. Recently I took the plunge and purchased a photography centered GPS enabled drone. 90% for hobby use with the occasional commercial application. I did take the steps to earn my Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (pretty easy if your already a pilot).

In the past operations of UAV's, (drones, RC aircraft, etc) was for the most part unregulated but that all changed as of the middle of 2016. There are now tons of regulations regarding their operation. There are separate rules for operating them as a hobbyist vs a commercial operator.

While the regs seem to take some pretty good steps to ensure the safety of GA activities, they are only good if people abide by them.

I will finally get to my point.... Anyone can jump onto YouTube and see hundreds if not thousands of examples where the many are either totally oblivious to the regs or just refuse to follow them. There are a couple of cases where everyone can be legal but still create the potential for an accident. This has impacted the way I enjoy my RV. I no longer have any desire to spend much time at the lower AGL levels. At the speeds RV's operate and the small size of the typical UAV, a stray drone could end up in your face before you even noticed it.

The regs say we as full size pilots should fly at least 1000' AGL over congested areas or congregations of people, 500' over other than congested areas and lower only over water or sparsely populated areas. The UAV regs state that a drone operator can't exceed 400'AGL as a hobbyist (there is at least 1 exception) and as a part 107 operator but part 107 operators may obtain a waiver to exceed this altitude. This basically makes the "over water and sparsely populated areas" a danger zone for low level operation of an RV. Tons of UAV operators love to fly in those areas and this can be seen by the mass number of shared videos on social media. Tons of full size pilots love to fly in these areas to get the thrill of low level flying. This is an area where both full size pilots and UAV operators could be following the regs but still create the potential for a collision.

Most assume that operation of a UAV is not allowed anywhere near an airport but this is not necessarily true. While all the details are complex, it is fairly easy for a hobbyist UAV operator to be legal to fly near an airport by just making a phone call to "notify" the airport operator or control tower about the operation. They do not need "permission" but if the airport operator or tower objects and the drone operator ignores them, it could be perceived as reckless operation by the FAA. Keep this in mind when you are in the pattern!

Being a drone owner myself and someone that grew up operating RC aircraft, I feel that UAV operators have just as much right to legally enjoy the airspace of our country as we do as full size GA pilots. I do my best to follow the regs and would never intentionally put any full size aircraft at risk while I enjoy my hobby. I do not look forward to the day when some rogue UAV operator causes a serious accident. Since UAV operators must always give right away to full size aircraft, the UAV operator will be at fault regardless if they were operating legally or not.

Be safe out there!
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Last edited by Brantel : 03-25-2018 at 10:57 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-25-2018, 11:14 AM
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rmartingt rmartingt is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brantel View Post
Most assume that operation of a UAV is not allowed anywhere near an airport but this is not necessarily true. While all the details are complex, it is fairly easy for a hobbyist UAV operator to be legal to fly near an airport by just making a phone call to "notify" the airport operator or control tower about the operation. They do not need "permission" but if the airport operator or tower objects and the drone operator ignores them, it could be perceived as reckless operation by the FAA. Keep this in mind when you are in the pattern!
The general public is largely unaware of the location of any airport other than one that serves scheduled passenger flights. Almost certainly, they won't know offhand whether they're within the 5-mile "limit" around an airport. And even if they did, chances are that unless they happen to be within the "footprint" of a traffic pattern and see airplanes flying overhead, they're just going to fly anyway.

I looked it up on Google Earth one day and figured out that flying one of these in my front yard is legal, but cross the street and go down a few houses and I'm within that 5 mile boundary and the KSAV Class C surface airspace. And if we consider private airfields as well, I can see at least one place on the southside of Atlanta where one would theoretically have to notify nine separate airports.

Put no stock at all in that rule. (Almost) Nobody follows it.
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  #3  
Old 03-25-2018, 01:36 PM
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Brantel Brantel is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmartingt View Post
The general public is largely unaware of the location of any airport other than one that serves scheduled passenger flights. Almost certainly, they won't know offhand whether they're within the 5-mile "limit" around an airport. And even if they did, chances are that unless they happen to be within the "footprint" of a traffic pattern and see airplanes flying overhead, they're just going to fly anyway.

I looked it up on Google Earth one day and figured out that flying one of these in my front yard is legal, but cross the street and go down a few houses and I'm within that 5 mile boundary and the KSAV Class C surface airspace. And if we consider private airfields as well, I can see at least one place on the southside of Atlanta where one would theoretically have to notify nine separate airports.

Put no stock at all in that rule. (Almost) Nobody follows it.
There are literally a dozens of apps including one put out by the FAA to help educate the general public about what limitations if any are on the area they are planning to fly a UAV in. Does not do any good if they don’t use it but the help is out there and easy to find.

Some manufacturers like DJI are taking it a step further and building these databases into their products requiring the operator to acknowledge and override to be able to fly in restricted airspace. Again does no good if the operator cares less...
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---------------------------------------------------------------------
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  #4  
Old 03-25-2018, 03:29 PM
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GalinHdz GalinHdz is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brantel View Post
Again does no good if the operator cares less...
And there lies the baseline problem. Those that don't care, and there are thousands of them, create havoc for those that do care.

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  #5  
Old 03-31-2018, 10:28 PM
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JPalese JPalese is offline
 
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Default Drones are a threat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalinHdz View Post
And there lies the baseline problem. Those that don't care, and there are thousands of them, create havoc for those that do care.

Our company did an impromptu study of drone intrusions into a Class D airport's airspace between mid-November and mid-December 2017.

Our equipment was limited in range to ~1 Mile diameter circle.

During that time frame - which is not exactly shirt sleeve flying weather in Wisconsin - we detected 50 drone intrusions into the D airspace - or more correctly -into the small circle of the delta airspace we could watch.

If you extrapolate our circle into the total delta airspace circle, the number of drone intrusions is absolutely astounding.

Keep in mind that moderately priced drones ($500 to $5000) -with which you can actually do something besides fly around for fun- have striking energy based on their weight and speed between a .50 BMG round and a
30 MM cannon projectile - these energies do NOT include the energy brought to the equation by the struck aircraft, and they also assume a non-exploding projectile.

Work with the airport continues and we will be briefing the FAA, at their request, soon on our findings.
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Last edited by JPalese : 03-31-2018 at 10:29 PM. Reason: correct typo
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  #6  
Old 04-01-2018, 07:58 AM
cgroves cgroves is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalinHdz View Post
And there lies the baseline problem. Those that don't care, and there are thousands of them, create havoc for those that do care.

We?ve had autonomous model aircraft for 20 years in North America with a great safety record, but you had to put in effort to build the helo/plane and systems. The people making that kind of commitment knew where the local airports and airways were and avoided them. The problem is now anybody can plunk down some money and buy a turnkey UAV. The ?hold my beer? crowd has ruined the hobby for all UAV enthusiasts.
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  #7  
Old 04-01-2018, 09:31 AM
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Alan Carroll Alan Carroll is offline
 
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Default ADS-B(ird)

As common as drones have become, there are still vastly more birds flying close to the ground, particularly in sparsely-populated areas associated with wetlands. A lot of them are bigger than drones and sometimes fly higher. While flying in southern Wisconsin I've seen way more eagles than drones, and it seems like I see geese practically every flight.

Not meaning to minimize the drone issue, which is certainly becoming more serious as their use rapidly expands. However it should perhaps be considered in context with other hazards of low flying? Until we have equipped large birds with an effective collision avoidance system (see title of post ) I would argue that that they will pose a considerably greater risk than drones.
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  #8  
Old 04-01-2018, 09:35 AM
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Default

I fly a lot. I interact with drone pilots licensed and not. Sometimes we coordinate something. Sometimes I try to locate a tiny quad myself. Always the operator gets his toy out of the sky immediately they are well aware of the situation. There are areas where UAVs concentrate and ATC issue advisories for manned aircrafts.

Unless somebody has an evil thought in mind the probability of colliding with a UAV is very low in my opinion. Much much lower then hitting a buzzard or a runaway birthday balloon.
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2018, 10:20 AM
GregM GregM is offline
 
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Default You?re not safe at altitude either.

Brian, You?re not safe at altitude either. Last Fall, KTYS approach had us looking for a drone that a pilot flying south at 7,500? passed at his altitude. We didn?t find that one but found another flying around UT during the TFR. We found the operator and the FAA drove up from ATL to interview him. They said they were in the educational phase of enforcement rather than punitive, but the day is coming. I personally think they?ve let the whole thing get away from them and it?s going to be hard to enforce all the infractions. I hope it doesn?t end up like CB radios are to the radio world. You do know the first thing ya gotta do when you get a new drone is see how high it goes. Try being a helicopter pilot with all that out there.

It?ll be interesting seeing them sort out private property airspace too. We have limitations as to what altitude we can be at to be called navigatable airspace for a lack of a better term, but they seem to be allowed to encroach on that whereas we can?t.
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