Ed O'Grady

FAA Airspace Authorization & Waiver Experiences / Notes

166 posts in this topic

On 4/2/2017 at 6:58 AM, Ed O'Grady said:

Steve, what is the expiration date of the KSLI approval you just got?

Expiry 2017-09-30, thanks for the suggestion & congrats @Ed O'Grady!

@R Martin - thanks so much for the suggestions. I'll bring some veggies as a gift offering to the meeting.

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On 4/2/2017 at 11:08 AM, Uaviator53 said:
On 4/2/2017 at 11:08 AM, Uaviator53 said:

 Seems like this was an oversight with IT when they designed the portal, probably to be fixed next version, after we have pestered them with multiple emails requesting applications.

 

Good call! I emailed them yesterday and they already responded with a copy of my application. Steve, PM me and I can send it to you if you like?

 

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18 hours ago, Steve Bennett said:

@R Martin - thanks so much for the suggestions. I'll bring some veggies as a gift offering to the meeting.

As long as you are prepared, you will do just fine. Its not the Spanish Inquisition after all, though some may say otherwise...

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@GoneCoastalapart from the good news regarding your waiver approval, there is also good news that in spite of what has been discussed previously, FAA IS granting waivers currently.  Some time back I was told that they were being processed but not released.  Obviously that's not correct - Congrats again.

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I finally got a call after submitting an airspace authorization form two months ago. The initial call earlier this week was to clarify the radius I needed and altitude. He said he may only be able to get an approval for 50'. I asked him to try for at least 150' since the building I plan to capture is at least 6 stories tall, but I said I'd take it if that's all he could get. I got a call back yesterday and he stated he could only get the 50' approved. I'm in Boston class B airspace and unfortunately the grid max altitude that everyone has been talking about, but has not been released to the public, is basically at 0-50' within a 5 mile radius of Logan. He said that he has sent in 50 requests and only 2 have been approved and they were both for a government agency, so I guess I should be thankful I got anything at all. 

In the initial call he did mention the possibility, similar to a previous poster, of having to call someone at tower before and after flying. I figured since I will be flying in the area only once every 2-4 weeks that would be perfectly reasonable with a higher altitude approval. I guess they thought differently. Again, I'm happy for getting any approval at all, but it certainly is frustrating that its so difficult to follow the rules and get approvals for what you need.  

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I'm starting to think, we may need to revise our airspace authorization requests to include using hand held radios to remain in contact with ATC during the duration of flight. I'm not sure how else ATC can expect to be kept informed of flights in the area to mitigate the risk of collision between manned/unmanned craft...

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, Steve Bennett said:

I'm starting to think, we may need to revise our airspace authorization requests to include using hand held radios to remain in contact with ATC during the duration of flight. I'm not sure how else ATC can expect to be kept informed of flights in the area to mitigate the risk of collision between manned/unmanned craft...

I actually included that in my request and finally got my authorization that contained that requirement. The thing is - these radios are line of sight. They work great in the air, but not so much while on the ground with buildings and trees between you and the tower. I mainly listening for traffic already in the air and hope I can occasionally get the tower. Again, a requirement that sounds great but, may in fact not be the solution everyone thinks it is. 

Edited by Hawg97
Typo
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While on the surface that may sound good @Steve Bennett and I purchased one for that very reason, I think most tower personnel would be opposed.  Non aviation folks might be unfamiliar with radio procedures and "gum up the works" so to speak.  I think that is the reason that FAA dropped that requirement early on for certain airspace classes.  I spent 20 years in an airline control center and I know how annoyed pilots can get when they have an inexperienced radio operator on frequency.

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8 minutes ago, Ed O'Grady said:

While on the surface that may sound good @Steve Bennett and I purchased one for that very reason, I think most tower personnel would be opposed.  Non aviation folks might be unfamiliar with radio procedures and "gum up the works" so to speak.  I think that is the reason that FAA dropped that requirement early on for certain airspace classes.  I spent 20 years in an airline control center and I know how annoyed pilots can get when they have an inexperienced radio operator on frequency.

Both @Hawg97 and @Ed O'Grady make great points: line of sight issues and not being able to fluently speak the lingo would be issues. However, for operations taking place directly over airport property, or very close to it, this almost seems like it would be a win-win addition to the request... Something to mull over for the next one...

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Submitted an authorization to fly in my hometown over the Summer months for real estate photos on March 29th 2017 and got a call today about it getting a little more clarification and notice that I won't be able to go higher than 100ft.  

So far I am pleased with the quick response and I assumed that's about the height that I could get out of it.  Will let you know when it finalizes.

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Wow - that's a 1 week turnaround.  It's getting better.

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1 hour ago, Juggernaught said:

Submitted an authorization to fly in my hometown over the Summer months for real estate photos on March 29th 2017 and got a call today about it getting a little more clarification and notice that I won't be able to go higher than 100ft.  

So far I am pleased with the quick response and I assumed that's about the height that I could get out of it.  Will let you know when it finalizes.

What class airspace?

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Define a 100ft...  

Not suggesting that you exceed it, but on most drones the "altitude" reporting is more of a berometer than an altiimiter, it can be off quite a bit depending on the density altitude. 

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5 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

Define a 100ft...  

Not suggesting that you exceed it, but on most drones the "altitude" reporting is more of a berometer than an altiimiter, it can be off quite a bit depending on the density altitude. 

LOL, You crack me up....

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On 4/4/2017 at 10:44 AM, Steve Bennett said:

Both @Hawg97 and @Ed O'Grady make great points: line of sight issues and not being able to fluently speak the lingo would be issues. However, for operations taking place directly over airport property, or very close to it, this almost seems like it would be a win-win addition to the request... Something to mull over for the next one...

Agree, as a manned aircraft part 61 certificated pilot, I suspect most controllers don't want to hear anyone advertising their drone flight like a United arrival. And line of sight is a huge problem for a person on the ground trying to raise the tower, unless you are standing next to it. I use my HT to make blind calls (with my N-number) when flying inside the 5 mile radius of uncontrolled airports/heliports.That and a NOTAM every time. 

PS- please let us not start another battle over "is a Part 107 pilot authorized to transmit on an aviation frequency. Been there, done that at Inspirepilots.com. Nothing in FARs prohibit any rated pilot from using an aviation frequency.

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1 hour ago, Uaviator53 said:

What class airspace?

Class C Airspace

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2 minutes ago, Juggernaught said:

Class C Airspace

Cool, a week is fast. You got the right contractor to work with....:D

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44 minutes ago, Uaviator53 said:

LOL, You crack me up....

Seriously, I'm not trying to be a smart a$$, we do a lot of scientific research where altitude is important, there's a formula for how far off the altitude reported is based on a standard day, it's like five feet for every .2 millibar's.  

Mae use a radar altimeter.  

 

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16 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

Seriously, I'm not trying to be a smart a$$, we do a lot of scientific research where altitude is important, there's a formula for how far off the altitude reported is based on a standard day, it's like five feet for every .2 millibar's.  

Mae use a radar altimeter.  

 

Chuck,

"Define a 100ft... " I assumed u were joking.

  With respect, most of us are aware of the shortcomings of cheap drone barometers, and the fact there are different "altitudes," and indicated altitude on your IPAD app is the drone barometer pressure reading converted to a number based on the change in pressure at launch versus current drone position.

  • Indicated altitude – the altitude shown on the altimeter.
  • Absolute altitude – altitude in terms of the distance above the ground directly below
  • True altitude – altitude in terms of elevation above sea level
  • Height – altitude in terms of the distance above a certain point
  • Pressure altitude – the air pressure in terms of altitude in the International Standard Atmosphere
  • Density altitude – the density of the air in terms of altitude in the International Standard Atmosphere in the air

So, short of affordable radar altimeter on UAVs we all must learn to accept the indicated altitude as the best reference available. I don't seriously believe any ATC dudes are going to LIDAR his drone from the tower and ding him for being at 105 versus 100.

All this altitude talk reminds me of the day in Phoenix (June 26, 1990) the temp hit 122F and the Airlines stopped all flights because none of the plane manufacturers' density altitude charts went that high. :o They had to wait for evening cooling before restoring flights. It wasn't so much that the jets couldn't take off, they just didn't want a crash then not be backed up by the plane manufacturer in the civil lawsuit.."You flew outside the envelope!" I understand the charts were revised since.

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On 4/4/2017 at 11:00 AM, asettino said:

I finally got a call after submitting an airspace authorization form two months ago. The initial call earlier this week was to clarify the radius I needed and altitude. He said he may only be able to get an approval for 50'. I asked him to try for at least 150' since the building I plan to capture is at least 6 stories tall, but I said I'd take it if that's all he could get. I got a call back yesterday and he stated he could only get the 50' approved.

I found out the reason why is because its up to the local ATC on what altitudes they will accept.  Each entity has their parameters where they feel comfortable for letting a drone fly.  Some will look at the fact you are near buildings and away from other things others will not.  The reason why the guy said right off the bat he could give you 50 is because the TRACON (Local ATC)  have a map grided out with pre-approved altitudes that do not require any further coordination.  In essence the guy doing them can just rubber stamp them and push them through as long as you meet all those other performance parameters.  I encountered this because I got alot areas approved where I need it, except south of the my local Class C airport.  I found out because the airports location to Kirtland Air Force Base.  ATC when designed those maps they zeroed out a bunch of airspace that just happens to be near a lot of closed set filming is done due to being next to Albuquerque Studios.  Well I remedied that.  I set up an appointment with the TRACON's Airspace specialist.  We a good hour and half discussion where I was able to describe the operations which I had done 20 times before under my 333 COA.  Afterwords she said that if I contact who did my 107 COA I could just get probably amended.  Sure enough I am getting an amendment to it. 

So maybe contacting the local TRACON at Logan and see if they have time to discuss your specific issue you might be able to get what you need pushed through.  The big thing is that the local ATC are just as confused as the rest of the world on how this is supposed to work.  Some of these will be more reasonable when you actually talk to them and tell them what you are doing it for.

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7 hours ago, Uaviator53 said:

Cool, a week is fast. You got the right contractor to work with....:D

I was told that they will push them faster now if they already worked them for an area and can just rubber stamp one through as long as the other stuff is good.  They have master gridded maps now.  It will take longer if you need to deviate from what they can give you.  I had a bunch in the que for over a month and heard nothing until one day I got two and e-mails from separate specialists and now I have pretty everything I have asked for. 

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Posted (edited)

I submitted a Class D Airspace Authorization on February 2, 2017.... and on March 23, 2017 I received an email from FAA saying "This email is in reference to the application submitted on 2/2/2017........ your application is being processed."  So it's been a little over four months since it was received by the FAA and except for the one email on March 23rd, I have not received any other emails or any calls from the FAA regarding the application.  I thought they would respond within 90 days... but obviously not. Any idea on what I should do?  Should I just wait?  Is there a place I can call to find out more info?

Thanks for your help.

 

Patrick

Edited by PLKetchum

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5 minutes ago, PLKetchum said:

I submitted a Class D Airspace Authorization on February 2, 2017.... and on March 23, 2017 I received an email from FAA saying "This email is in reference to the application submitted on 2/2/2017........ your application is being processed."  So it's been a little over four months since it was received by the FAA and except for the one email on March 23rd, I have not received any other emails or any calls from the FAA regarding the application.  I thought they would respond within 90 days... but obviously not. Any idea on what I should do?  Should I just wait?  Is there a place I can call to find out more info?

Thanks for your help.

 

Patrick

I'd apply again. There's a chance you checked the wrong box or filled it out the first time incorrectly, but it's really hard to say what happened.

Class D authorizations aren't taking that long anymore...usually just a few weeks before you hear something back. There's a dedicated support line / email address for UAS: https://www.faa.gov/uas/contact/.

Also, here's an FAA airspace authorization guide we put together that might be helpful.

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2 hours ago, PLKetchum said:

I submitted a Class D Airspace Authorization on February 2, 2017.... and on March 23, 2017 I received an email from FAA saying "This email is in reference to the application submitted on 2/2/2017........ your application is being processed."  So it's been a little over four months since it was received by the FAA and except for the one email on March 23rd, I have not received any other emails or any calls from the FAA regarding the application.  I thought they would respond within 90 days... but obviously not. Any idea on what I should do?  Should I just wait?  Is there a place I can call to find out more info?

Thanks for your help.

 

Patrick

I was told recently by the local FSDO rep that all waiver request are routed through an independent entity for initial screening and direction to the group that handles that particular type of waiver/authorization. He said that it is not unknown for this outside contractor to lose, reject incorrectly, or misdirect request. If you have waited for more than six weeks, you should probably file again.

My turnaround time is roughly 4 weeks. I received the application is being processed email and the waiver on the same afternoon. That is without any mistakes on the application. Mistakes on your part in filing are extra.

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