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Everything posted by Earthman

  1. I would use it as my daily-tag-along drone so it’s handy any time I need to get a commercial photo or fly recreationally. My other drones, batteries, and support equipment stay in storage until I need them. The mini would live in a case I take with me everyday.
  2. After further consideration, and since I can’t edit my prior Suggestion 7, in stead of defining a flight box that a non-transponder-equipped aircraft must stay within, the FAA should just make it VLOS since everyone has different visual acuity. This is basically what the rules say now, which works fine.
  3. Add to my prior post... 7. For most RC aircraft, the minimum operations area applicable to just needing to report your flight to the FAA ID system; i.e., flying without an active transponder of some sort on the aircraft, should be a box that is 2,000’ long x 1,000‘ wide x 400’. This is a bit larger than the area I typically use when flying my fastest aerobatic fixed wing RC aircraft. There should also be provisions for declaring a larger flight box for faster aircraft since I’m sure some pilots may need, or are capable of using a larger area when flying VLOS.
  4. Some points to consider: 1. There are more recreational RC flyers than commercial RC flyers by a wide margin. 2. There is comparatively little hard evidence that most recreational or commercial RC flyers are currently unsafe. It’s a relatively few “clueless, careless, and criminal” actors that are the problem and the education and certification process that is being contemplated should help reduce the ranks of those folks. 3. However, the current movement is likely driven mostly by a few commercial stakeholders like Amazon and others who want to profit from the commercial use of low altitude airspace that has been used safely by recreational RC flyers for many years. It is also driven by fear, and a perceived need to gain control before things get (more) out of hand. 4. The risk to the public from unproven commercial operations such as package delivery will be substantially greater than most recreational RC flying, 5. There is a risk that recreational flyers will be burdened with most of the costs for implementing whatever evolves from the FAA’s efforts (including education, certification, remote ID, etc.), which given the above, will benefit a few commercial stakeholders. This would be wrong. The financial burden to recreational flyers should proportional to the relatively low risk they pose. The unproven commercial user’s should cover most of the cost for any new systems from which they will mostly benefit. 6. The innovative hardware and software that make sUAS operations possible was developed, driven, and paid for by hobbyists. Whatever the FAA/commercial stakeholders do, they should avoid interfering with this inventive process from which everyone benefits. Some suggestions: 1. The cost in time and dollars of online training and testing for/of recreational flyers should be very low if not included in the FAA’s online registration fee of $5. 2. Don’t issue sUAS registration numbers to ”unlicensed” RC pilots. 3. The time spent on training should be limited to an hour or so. 4. One fee should cover an unlimited number of trials at passing the test at one sitting. 5. The testing process should be modeled after the Amateur Radio testing process. However, there is no minimum age for getting a Ham Radio license, so in the case of RC flying that can cause damage and injury, maybe pilots below an age at which they can be held legally responsible need to fly unlicensed but under the supervision of a licensed adult PIC. A “student pilot” license category wouldn’t work because someone would have to sign off on them. 6. Recreational RC flyers should be encouraged, if not required to fly with insurance.
  5. Here’s a link that shows how they filmed the drifting cars. As you can see, the drone isn’t unusual, but it’s not a matter of just buying a drone and taking videos. There’s significant skill involved.
  6. From the shadow of the drone on the ground, it is probably a 5-inch or larger race or freestyle quad with a GoPro for recording the video. This sort of drone can be purchased or built for a few hundred dollars, but it is not as easy to master as a drone that includes an altimeter and GPS like the more expensive prosumer drones such as the DJI Phantom or Mavic Pro series of drones. The race drones can fly much faster than the DJIs. There are plenty of people who can fly a race or freestyle quad like in the video - just Google “race or freestyle quad” and you’ll see lots of examples. The quickest way for you to get aerial videos of your cars would be to find a local race or freestyle flyer and ask for help. Maybe ask at a local hobby store or run a help wanted ad on Craig’s List. I am not an attorney and the following is not legal advice, but... If you are going to use the video for any commercial purpose, or fly over moving cars like in your sample video, the pilot will have to be an FAA Part 107 certified pilot, which may reduce your choices of pilots. In addition, if the drone will fly over the moving cars, the pilot will need to apply for and receive an FAA waiver of the reg(s) that make it illegal to fly over moving cars. The pilot’s application will have to convince the FAA that the flight can be made safely, so it may need to be a closed course with no spectators since we are not allowed to fly over people either. Getting the waiver can take months. The fines for violating these rules are heavy and posting a video on YouTube of an illegal flight is just stupid. If the pilot is good, he can avoid flying over the cars and eliminate the need for a waiver. Good luck!
  7. Short answer, no. The requirement isn’t limited to being able to see the sUAS. Assuming you are flying under Part 107 for commercial operations... § 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation.(a) With vision that is unaided by any device [which includes lights, telemetry, video data, etc.] other than corrective lenses, the remote pilot in command, the visual observer (if one is used), and the person manipulating the flight control of the small unmanned aircraft system must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight in order to:(1) Know the unmanned aircraft’s location;(2) Determine the unmanned aircraft’s attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;(3) Observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and(4) Determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another.(b) Throughout the entire flight of the small unmanned aircraft, the ability described in subsection (a) of this section must be exercised by either:(1) The remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system; or (2) A visual observer. Flying for recreation under Section 349 has similar requirements, responsibilities, and liabilities. In any case, as PIC you are responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft, and liable for any damage or injury you cause to other aircraft, property or people. If you lose control due to a malfunction, you are responsible and liable. If you are flying so far away that you can’t maintain safe operation of your aircraft and damage or hurt someone, you may be criminally negligent, which can result in life changing fines, imprisonment, civil legal action, and huge legal fees. If you damage property or hurt someone, their attorney will surely claim you were unsafe and/or negligent, and you will spend serious money on your legal team to overcome those claims. If none of this strikes a cord with you, you may want to find something else to do. Know the rules and risks. Fly safe.
  8. Dave, very sensible and clear response. I agree with you. Kamal, I’m not an attorney, but I am a Part 107 pilot, a PE practicing in several states, and I have a corporation, so I can share the following with you based on my experience and discussions with various attorneys. One reason to incorporate may be to help “shield” personal assets from corporate liabilities; however, if the corporation doesn’t have deep enough pockets, the “shield” doesn’t work. Your personal assets will still be at risk. I don’t know how much the corporation has to be worth for the shield to be effective, but it’s probably a lot considering how large settlements can be. When things go bad, plaintiffs follow the money and go after the deepest pockets. Based on this, for a small, lightly funded, sUAS-related corporation, it is likely that the assets of the corporation and the owner(s) will be at risk until the corporation has enough assets to shield the owner(s). In any case, as Dave alluded to, the licensed pilot(s) working for the corporation will always be at risk as Pilot In Command (PIC). The best protection for all parties involved (corporation, owner, pilot, and public) is for the corporation to carry adequate insurance. Unless the PIC has deep pockets, or is flying recklessly or is willfully negligent, his/her employer’s corporate attorney(s) will likely represent them, and the corporate insurance should offer him/her some protection. Never fly without insurance! Finally, your attorney suggesting that your SMLLC can be licensed as PIC seems to be bad advice if not an error. We all make mistakes. In any case, you should discuss what you learn here with an attorney, but as owner/PIC, you are ultimately responsible regardless of the advice you get and follow. Good luck.
  9. Av8Chuck, Let's keep this focused on Stephanie. We can debate off topic opinions another time. Thanks!
  10. I hold both Part 61(private fixed-wing pilot) and Part 107 (commercial sUAS) pilot certificates, and I fly fixed-wing, multi-rotor and helicopter RC aircraft. I disagree with both of the above quoted statements. In my opinion, pilots plan flights and operate manned or unmanned aircraft (within the rules) safely. Having learned the fundamentals of flight while getting my Part 61 certificate helps me to fly fixed-wing RC aircraft, but that knowledge doesn't apply as intuitively to RC helicopters and multi-rotors. In any case, flying RC aircraft requires additional skills a Part 61 pilot has to learn like everyone else. While flying for recreation under the so called Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336), I have crashed plenty of RC aircraft in spite of being a Part 61 pilot, and have had fun doing it (so far, no major damage). It would not be a good day if I were to crash during a commercial sUAS mission. Finally, taking off and just flying most inherently stable, large or small aircraft isn't that difficult. Flying and landing them safely can be challenging.
  11. You must have an FCC license, which is different than a “Ham” license, to operate an airband radio on the ground (the license needs to be at/with the radio when transmitting). You do not need a license to operate the same radio in a manned aircraft for air operations. You do not need a license to monitor air operations, which can be useful when operating a sUAS near an airport. You do not need a license to transmit on any radio in a life or death situation. End of story. I’m a licensed Pilot, Part 107 Pilot, and Extra Class Ham. I just acquired an FCC license for a airband handheld radio my staff uses when working at PIA, AGC, PHL and PNE. We need this radio to coordinate with ground control when driving an automobile on taxiways and runways. Airport maintenance folks have licenses for the airband radios they use in their operations as well. The license I acquired was difficult to get and relatively expensive. The license is restricted to 4 airports. It was a super-frustrating, buricratic process. You used to need a Radio Telephone Operators license to operate an air band radio in an airplane - I have one. However, the FCC dropped that requirement some time ago since, I assume, it is unlikely that such a radio would be used for any other purpose. After getting the airband license mentioned above, I asked the person at the FCC who was most helpful what I would need to do to get a license to operate my personal airband radio during my drone operations near an airport. She didn’t respond leaving me to suspect that the FCC isn’t prepared to deal with this potential need. Violating FCC regulations comes at the expense of heavy fines and possible prison sentences. This is because radio communications are often critical to public safety.
  12. Verifly doesn't cover damage to the airframe - right?. As far as I know, no one is covering damage or loss of airframes during flight. This is probably due to the large variety of airframes and high risk of damage. On the other hand, most commercial insurers will cover loss of airframes due to fire, theft, etc. Verifly does not provide this coverage and it's an as needed temporary policy covering 3rd party liability for property damage and bodily injury. I assume that someday someone will figure out how to insure airframes. Until then, we "self insure" our airframes.
  13. Just got my card in the mail today. I don't recall the date I took the exam, but it was a day or two after it became available.
  14. I feel your pain, but I'm not trying to make a living at this, yet. Stay calm and keep flying!
  15. I agree about them having to get it figured out, but so do I. Overall, I support the regs and know it takes time to sort these things out.
  16. I don't think you need to wait for your actual cert number to apply for a waiver. Where you would enter your cert number I think you can enter "Pending." I passed the exam on 9/3/16 and have not received my permanent card. I just carry the temporary card. Also, I have not applied for a waiver yet.