Tndroneworks

Hello from Nashville - ATC notification question

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Good Morning Everyone,

I really hope that my first post isn't going to put me on a moderator watch list, but I'm really interested in your answers.

With the FAA still being super slow on reviewing airspace authorizations I know that a small subset of pilots are flying without the proper authorization. Hypothetically, do these pilots still contact the local ATC and let them know about planned flights even without the authorization in place? It seems like the logical and safe thing to do. 

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No and in fact, as a general rule, there is no vehicle by which you would contact local atc.  You are correct that it might seem logical, but you just can't confuse the issue with logic!  There is currently only one way to obtain authorization and that is through FAA's DroneZone portal.  If and when LAANC goes widespread, the process may get better but I for one am not holding my breath!

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Thanks Ed. 

This is interesting. I had a dronebase mission in Nashville today and the complexities of the flight really had me wondering about this.

 

On another note, I made it approximately 15 minuted before the police showed up. They were very polite (mainly interested in seeing the drone) but it got me thinking. Does anyone ever give the local PD a courtesy call before a flight in an area where it may draw attention? A quick heads up phone call would probably go a long way towards establishing good relationships with the PD and city in general.

 

Thoughts?

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In a perfect world that would make sense, but that's not the world we live in today.  The fact that you called local PD to say you would be flying in the area is not going to satisfy the caller who thinks you're up to no good somehow.  You're in (or around) Nashville so who in the PD would you call? Where would that info go? In addition, I suspect that if a citizen makes a complaint they are required to respond.  Now on the other hand, what many operators do, when possible, is notify the immediate neighbors about the upcoming flight.  Often that might prevent the complaint in the first place.

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4 hours ago, Tndroneworks said:

On another note, I made it approximately 15 minuted before the police showed up. They were very polite (mainly interested in seeing the drone) but it got me thinking. Does anyone ever give the local PD a courtesy call before a flight in an area where it may draw attention? A quick heads up phone call would probably go a long way towards establishing good relationships with the PD and city in general.

We try to keep the local PD informed. If they know that we are flying in an area they don't have to dispatch someone to check out a report of UAS activity. If we don't inform them, they do and then check for paperwork.

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@R Martin This is kind of what I was thinking. Do you have a PD contact? Or do you just call one of the non-emergency information numbers and give the information to someone?  I'm hoping to do more work in and around Nashville and even though the police were more curious than anything else today I really want to minimize the chance of someone taking a picture of me holding my P4 next to my work truck while talking to the police. Maybe if they are aware of my flight ahead of time I can save myself from having a picture like that misinterpreted by potential clients.

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11 hours ago, Tndroneworks said:

@R Martin This is kind of what I was thinking. Do you have a PD contact? Or do you just call one of the non-emergency information numbers and give the information to someone?  I'm hoping to do more work in and around Nashville and even though the police were more curious than anything else today I really want to minimize the chance of someone taking a picture of me holding my P4 next to my work truck while talking to the police. Maybe if they are aware of my flight ahead of time I can save myself from having a picture like that misinterpreted by potential clients.

I have a few contacts that I share the information with and I have filed all of my paperwork (or sent copies of the CoA and a copy of my pilot cert and driver license) to the governing PD. We all win and look good in the process. There are enough operators in my area that do need the attention so I do not want to divert any resources from that task. And you never know what this little step might produce down the road....

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15 hours ago, Ed O'Grady said:

In a perfect world that would make sense, but that's not the world we live in today.  The fact that you called local PD to say you would be flying in the area is not going to satisfy the caller who thinks you're up to no good somehow.  You're in (or around) Nashville so who in the PD would you call? Where would that info go? In addition, I suspect that if a citizen makes a complaint they are required to respond.  Now on the other hand, what many operators do, when possible, is notify the immediate neighbors about the upcoming flight.  Often that might prevent the complaint in the first place.

Ed,

I get where you are coming from but I have to call you on this. Granted, we have a smaller department but they actually appreciate me letting them know when and where I am flying so they can head the call off immediately without having to waste resources. Who in the PD do you call? It's simple. Call dispatch and I guarantee you that they will find the appropriate contact for you. The information usually goes to the dispatchers who are the point of contact between the PD and public. They are the one who can most effectively use the information before dispatching an officer to the scene. 

You can also notify neighbors if you make the additional time. Unless I am flying near private property I don't notify the public. I fly frequently enough that public notification where unnecessary is counterproductive. I am stretched thin enough between the paperwork involved and the amount of work I have to do on a weekly basis to dilute that time even further by getting the public involved in something that frankly, does not concern them.

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Thanks @R Martin for the comment.  I live in a county in SE Coastal Georgia where I could actually call the Chief if I needed to.  Our county PD would probably be as appreciative as yours is but I was thinking in terms of Nashville actually.  To go even MUCH bigger, I am originally from NY and to even think of who and how to contact someone in the right department is out of the question.  Take a look at the radio system sometime just to get an idea of how massive NYPD actually is.  NYPD would take hours to respond to a drone issue most likely - where I live now, they'd be here in minutes.  So, yes, I agree with you in the case of smaller departments but just not sure about Nashville PD (never been there - it's on my list).  But it would be worth a try I guess.  BTW - isn't it great to live in an area where the PD is so fabulous?  Our local "old timer" gave out his cell phone number to a group of about 100 residents a while back and said to call him even at 3 in the morning and he would answer and come out! 

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14 minutes ago, Ed O'Grady said:

Thanks @R Martin for the comment.  I live in a county in SE Coastal Georgia where I could actually call the Chief if I needed to.  Our county PD would probably be as appreciative as yours is but I was thinking in terms of Nashville actually.  To go even MUCH bigger, I am originally from NY and to even think of who and how to contact someone in the right department is out of the question.  Take a look at the radio system sometime just to get an idea of how massive NYPD actually is.  NYPD would take hours to respond to a drone issue most likely - where I live now, they'd be here in minutes.  So, yes, I agree with you in the case of smaller departments but just not sure about Nashville PD (never been there - it's on my list).  But it would be worth a try I guess.  BTW - isn't it great to live in an area where the PD is so fabulous?  Our local "old timer" gave out his cell phone number to a group of about 100 residents a while back and said to call him even at 3 in the morning and he would answer and come out! 

Our department is small covering a community of about 40k. I know in larger areas that a response might be different. Our PD has actually received training on UAS response and there has been a policy implemented that restricts UAS usage without a permit to operate. Kind of draconian but when you consider that a majority of the operators and 20ish and unlicensed, it makes a little more sense.

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Here in Georgia, the legislature passed and Governor Deal signed into law,  restrictions on any new regulations restricting drone operations for commercial operators that were not in place prior to April 1, 2017.  That is a simplification of the law but that's it in a nutshell.  It reinforces FAA guidelines and attempts to prevent local ordinances that would go beyond that. Good for us!

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Hi. I'm located in Fort Worth, Texas.

As far as contacting the local PD, I believe it's always a good idea. Before you start doing business, you should take the time to contact them on the non-emergency line, ask who you should contact regarding commercial UAS flights and take the time to meet with them. They may want to check your paperwork (license and possibly insurance), ensure you are aware of any local ordinances restricting flights in areas or events. They should give you a number to contact prior to any flights to reduce the number of calls they dispatch on. If they don't offer a number, you should ask. 

Hope this helps. 

 

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Great discussion. @Tndroneworks, our company is based in Nashville. Would love to get together to go flying at some point. Too much rain the last couple of weeks :(

I put in for our BNA Class C wide area clearance authorization one month ago, and it's still under review. If you plan to do more Part 107 // commercial flying in the area, it's a must have.

And like @Ed O'Grady said up top, you can get one through the FAA's new FAADroneZone portal. We wrote up a guide that walks through how to apply over here:

https://www.dronepilotgroundschool.com/faa-airspace-authorization/

I'd go ahead and put in for yours to get in line. Hopefully LAANC is fully operational by the end of the year. I have a feeling that we'll soon get to a point where the FAA is still taking in new authorization requests but not necessarily processing them, similar to what we saw them do with hundreds of 333 exemption requests back in 2016.

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@Alan Perlman shoot me a message if you ever want to get together to talk flying.  The weather for tha next two weeks isn' great, but I'm always interested in meeting others in the same market.  I put in my class C area wide authorization about a month ago as well, but based on your comment and those from others on this site I'm not holinng my breath for a quick resolution.  

 

@oneald  Fort Worth! The Dallas/Fort Worth area has to be one of the most hated charts on the part 107 test.  Good to hear that you were able to develop a working relationship with the local PD.  I'm just hesitant about doing the same before my airspace authorization is in place.  

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10 hours ago, Tndroneworks said:

@Alan Perlman shoot me a message if you ever want to get together to talk flying.  The weather for tha next two weeks isn' great, but I'm always interested in meeting others in the same market.  I put in my class C area wide authorization about a month ago as well, but based on your comment and those from others on this site I'm not holinng my breath for a quick resolution.  

 

@oneald  Fort Worth! The Dallas/Fort Worth area has to be one of the most hated charts on the part 107 test.  Good to hear that you were able to develop a working relationship with the local PD.  I'm just hesitant about doing the same before my airspace authorization is in place.  

@TndroneworksIf you think it's bad on the 107 charts, you should try flying it. I would start with building a relationship with the PD before you want to fly. I got to meet lots of different people, from the dispatch folks to the Intel group, who were actually more interested than anyone else. You might also check with the local PD to see if any of their folks are flying. That's another great way to get contacts. 

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Part of the debate that often gets overlooked is what if you contact the local authorities and they thank you for your being so civic minded but then tell you no, you can’t fly there.  Maybe they have a good reason, maybe they don’t, but thats why we have Part107.  If they had a good reason they would have issued a NOTAM or made it a TFR then you’d know for sure.  

If your flying commercially follow Part107 and be courteous to everyone. There will always be people who want to make what your doing their business.   

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9 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

Part of the debate that often gets overlooked is what if you contact the local authorities and they thank you for your being so civic minded but then tell you no, you can’t fly there.  Maybe they have a good reason, maybe they don’t, but thats why we have Part107.  If they had a good reason they would have issued a NOTAM or made it a TFR then you’d know for sure.  

If your flying commercially follow Part107 and be courteous to everyone. There will always be people who want to make what your doing their business.   

I found we have a couple of local ordinances, in line with the FCC and state regs, that restricted flying in certain areas, and some during specific events. I had no idea they restricted flying on one of the local dams or over any city-owned buildings. It's based on security. But  I appreciated finding out early by conversation rather than later by patrol car. 

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Here in lies the debate.  What gives them the authority to restrict airspace?  If they had the authority and they went through the proper procedures there would be a NOTAM or TFR and you WOULD know because you checked for those things before you flew right!?

 

 

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A little update on this. I flew a dronebase mission in a community northeast of Nashville yesterday. The property was a shopping center located at the corner of a busy intersection. The flight took place at noon, so traffic was heavy.  I called the non-emergency dispatch number and told them I was planning a drone flight. They appreciated the heads up and let me know that they have an informal notification system in place. They took my name and number and asked for the approximate start and end times so they could let officers in the area know that a flight was in progress.   It was a completely painless effort on my part that took less than 3 minutes. And while plenty of people watched me fly or pointed up ad the drone while sitting in traffic I did not get a visit from the police this time.

Moving forward I am going to incorporate a local PD notification into my pre-flight routine. 

Edited by Tndroneworks

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