UAV133 UAS Legal Action

“Drone lawyer” Jonathan Rupprecht talks about current legal cases that will have major implications for model airplane enthusiasts and sUAS operators.

Guest

Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot with single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor. He has a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and his law degree from Florida International University School of Law. Rupprecht Law provides legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored the book Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them, Drone Operator’s Logbook, and he co-authored Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues. Technology, and the Law.

Our discussion with Jonathan includes:

  • The FAA’s interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Can the FAA regulate model aircraft?
  • The boundaries of navigable airspace: Down to the ground or something higher? This impacts the notion of trespass by drone, privacy, and federal versus local jurisdiction to regulate.
  • The Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) around Washington D.C. and its impact on those who fly model aircraft and UAS.

News

Area 51 Bans Drones… Your Drones, At Least

Area 51 is now posted as a no drone zone.

Video of the Week

Safely Travel Deep Inside a Glacier Through the Eyes of a Drone

Flyability partnered with the team from Zermatt Mountain Rescue in the Swiss Alps to explore glacial crevasses.

Note

Episode 134 will be recorded live on Blab.im and we hope you’ll join us.

UAV132 First Look: Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act of 2016

sUAS and the proposed FAA reauthorization bill, ALPA proposes to lock sUAS, a universal UAV control interface, Amazon Prime Air testing outside the US, and EASA drone rules.

News

Rep. Bill Shuster: How to fix America’s crumbling aviation system

Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act of 2016 (the “AIRR” Act, or H.R. 4441) [PDF] to Congress February 3, 2016.

Here’s a summary of some of the key elements of the Act, under Title IV Safety, Subtitle B – Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

Sec. 432. Codification of existing law; additional provisions.

The term “model aircraft” means an unmanned aircraft that is (A) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (B) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (C) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

Special rules for model aircraft:

(a) …the FAA may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if

(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;

(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a community-based organization;

(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;

(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and

(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower… with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower…)

(b) A flight of an unmanned aircraft shall be treated as a flight of a model aircraft… (regardless of any compensation, reimbursement, or other consideration exchanged or incidental economic benefit gained in the course of planning, operating, or supervising the flight), if the flight is

(1) conducted for instructional or educational purposes; and

(2) operated or supervised by an eligible not-for-profit organization.

(c) Nothing… may be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.

Sec. 434. Unmanned aircraft systems senior leadership and staffing.

The Administrator shall designate a sufficient number of safety inspectors to focus on the safety oversight of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system…

Sec. 435. Sense of Congress regarding unmanned aircraft safety.

The FAA should pursue all available civil and administrative remedies available to the Administrator, including referrals to other government agencies for criminal investigations, with respect to persons who operate unmanned aircraft in an unauthorized manner; the Administrator should place particular priority on continuing measures, including partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, to educate the public about the dangers to the public safety of operating unmanned aircraft near airports without the appropriate approvals or authorizations; and manufacturers and retail sellers of small unmanned aircraft systems should take steps to educate consumers about the safe and lawful operation of such systems.

Sec. 438. Facilitating unmanned aircraft authorization in support of fire fighting operations.

The FAA shall enter into agreements with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture as necessary to continue the expeditious authorization of safe unmanned aircraft system operations in support of fire fighting operations…

Sec. 439. Low altitude unmanned aircraft system traffic management.

The FAA shall establish an advisory committee comprised of government representatives and appropriate industry representatives to:

(1) assess the necessity, feasibility, and benefits of establishing unmanned aircraft traffic management systems for airspace between the surface and 400 feet above ground level;

(2) develop recommendations for government oversight of such systems; and

(3) address any other issues the advisory panel considers necessary and appropriate.

The committee report is due in one year.

Sec. 440. UAS detection systems pilot program.

The FAA will establish a pilot program to deploy and evaluate the effectiveness of unmanned aircraft detection systems in maintaining the safety of air commerce and navigable airspace in light of aviation safety hazards posed by unauthorized operations of unmanned aircraft in proximity to airports. Three airports are to be chosen for pilot program, with the report due in 18 months.

Sec. 441. Evaluation of aircraft registration for small unmanned aircraft.

Within 180 days, the FAA shall develop and track metrics to assess compliance with and effectiveness of the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems by the FAA… including metrics with respect to

(1) the levels of compliance…

(2) the number of enforcement actions taken by the Administration for violations of or noncompliance… together with a description of the actions; and

(3) the effect of the [rule] on compliance with any fees associated with the use of small unmanned aircraft systems.

ALPA: Congress should mandate online training for UAV operators

Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president Tim Canoll wants the FAA reauthorization legislation to require that sUAS operators must enter a “key code” before the UAV will fly. To obtain a key code, UAV owners would have to pass an online training course. Canoll said, “I’d like [UAV manufacturers] to voluntarily do it, but I believe if we could mandate it, it would take a lot of pressure off them.”

U.S. Army working on universal unmanned aircraft control interface

The US Army is developing a universal UAS control interface that would allow operators to fly different UAV types with the same controls. Currently, UAS types each have their own controls, and operators are trained to fly a specific type.

Amazon’s Drone Testing Takes Flight In Yet Another Country

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says the company is testing drones for Amazon Prime Air in Canada, the United Kingdom, and now the Netherlands. Significant FAA restrictions on flying in the U.S. are driving commercial operators like Amazon out of the U.S. to develop their technology.

Speaking of the Netherlands, law enforcement in that country is looking at using eagles to grab rogue drones.

EASA ruling may lead to unregulated commercial UAV ops

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released a revised UAS regulation technical opinion in December. Head of operations at Resource Group – Unmanned Aviation Services, Neil Williams, believes the EASA proposal is too liberal.

Flightglobal reports that “The ‘open’ category proposed by EASA would allow for users to operate UAVs weighing 25kg (55lb) or less for whatever purpose, so long as ‘safety is ensured through compliance with operational limitations, mass limitations as a proxy of energy, product safety requirements, and a minimum set of operational rules.’”.

Williams worries that EASA focuses on UAV size, weight, and kinetic energy. Other factors that impact safety like training and insurance are not considered.

Resource Group – Unmanned Aviation Services is accredited by the UK CAA to assess for pilot competency for drones of 20Kgs or below, and verify that organisations meet the UK CAA requirement for Permissions For Aerial Work (PFAW).

New FAA video explains that the Super Bowl is a No Drone Zone

The Federal Aviation Administration launched a public service announcement, including a 20-second The Super Bowl is a No Drone Zone video, to let people know the airspace around Levi’s Stadium is a No Drone Zone during the Super Bowl.

TFRs will prohibit certain aircraft operations, including unmanned aircraft operations, within a 32-mile radius of the stadium in Santa Clara, California on game day. The restrictions will be in effect from 2 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

Video of the Week

First Droneboarding

You’ve heard of kiteboarding? Welcome to droneboarding.

UAV131 Democratized Technology

Skyward.ioThe CEO of Skyward tells us about software and services for commercial UAS operations. Also, DJI and Lufthansa do a drone deal, open source vs. open architecture autopilots, and taking FPV drone racing to the next level.

Guest

Jonathan EvansJonathan Evans is the CEO of Skyward, a provider of professional services and software in the form of airspace maps and integrated flight planning tools for commercial UAV operators.

Jonathan was a professional pilot for 18 years with over 3,000 hours of flight time. He holds an airline transport pilot (ATP) license and commercial and flight instructor ratings in airplanes and helicopters.

Jonathan began his career as a UH60 Blackhawk pilot and served as an Aircraft and Air Mission Commander for the 236th Medical company. He was selected to fly for the Army’s 12th Aviation Battalion, an aviation unit charged with protecting the Washington DC area and flying presidential cabinet members, congressmen and top Pentagon officials. During his military service, Jonathan built and managed secure computer networks and databases.
As a commercial pilot in civilian life, Jonathan flew medical crews to trauma scenes and hospitals for air ambulance companies in New Mexico, Alaska, and Oregon. He also flew in support of resource management and development projects in rural Alaska before settling in Oregon. He is now the CEO of Skyward, a drone operations platform.

Skyward webinarThe Skyward Professional Services team is hosting a webinar February 16 at 10 am PST (GMT-8:00) Get expert advice from the Skyward Professional Services team on running a professional drone operation. To register, see Drone Flights Underway? Expert Advice for Running a Professional Operation.

News

Lufthansa swoops on drone market

Lufthansa signs deal with DJI in fledgling drone push

Lufthansa and DJI have signed a partnership deal under which Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) would use DJI products and provide services to commercial customers. That might even include operating the drones. Lufthansa says they want to be a “one-stop-shop,” and that they will decide on their level of commitment by the end of the year.

UAV Propulsion Tech Post #15 – The Advantages of Commercial UAV Autopilots over Open Source Alternatives

Bob Schmidt from UAV Propulsion Tech (a sponsor of this show) posted this white paper by Sarah Vallely from MicroPilot. Last week we talked about the Dronecode Project and open source UAV control software. Adding to that discussion, Vallely brings up some interesting considerations for open source software. She argues that open source software is problematic for commercial applications, and open architecture is a better approach.

Video of the Week

There’s now a drone racing league that feels like pod racing from Star Wars

The Drone Racing League (DRL) announced its inaugural season for FPV racing. Spectator FPV racing suffers from a technical problem: The FPV standard definition video feed from the drone is poor quality, and HD video from the drone isn’t fast enough for the pilots. DRL has a solution: Use a low definition camera for the FPV pilots, and an HD camera that the producers can edit later for viewing.

Mentioned

Max was interviewed for an article in Drone Magazine (UK) about drone podcasts. The article, titled Radio Activity, appears in Issue #2, January 2016. Find more about the magazine on their Facebook page.

 

UAV130 UAS Research and Development

FleyeOpen source UAV software, safety with a soccer ball sized drone, a drone landing on a moving vehicle, combining rotors and wings for overall efficiency, the FAA blocks sUAS registration site outside the U.S., and UAS rules for public safety organizations.

News

Dronecode Project Advances Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Commercial Applications

In its first year, the Dronecode Project has formed three technical working groups and grown to include 50 members. This collaborative effort brings open source UAV projects together under a non-profit structure governed by The Linux Foundation.

DronecodeBoard chairman Chris Anderson says, “By bringing efforts together to establish a common platform and utilizing open source best practices, we’re able to build the foundation for a new era of drone applications that extend from the camera to the cloud.  The Dronecode ‘full-stack’ platform approach, combined with the hardware and software innovations of its members, will bring about a new generation of drones that are autonomous, aware of their environments, and continuously connected — an airborne Internet of Things.”

The three Dronecode working groups are the:

  • MAVlink Camera Working Group, which assists camera manufacturers in implementing the MAVlink protocol in cameras.
  • Airspace Working Group, which establishes common data types, units, and formats that all airspace providers can use to transmit and receive.
  • Hardware Working Group, which will establish mechanical and electrical standards for interfaces to the UAV autopilot and its peripherals.

Safer Drone Is The Future Of Tech Design

The Fleye is a small drone that solves the safety problem caused by spinning rotors. With the enclosed, ducted fan design, all the moving parts are inside a spherical shape the size and weight of a soccer ball. The developers say it’s easy to fly and can even fly autonomously. This was a Kickstarter project that successfully raised €314,080 with 717 backers.

Fleye – Your Personal Flying Robot

Drones can now land on moving cars

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center have successfully landed a 20kg fixed-wing UAV on a moving car traveling at 75 kilometers per hour (about 47 mph). The top of the vehicle has optical markers that the UAV uses for tracking. The UAV matches speed and lands on a 4 x 5 meter platform net.

German Aerospace Center test

Credit: German Aerospace Center

Belgian drone mixes plane and quadcopter technology

A team at the University of Leuven in Belgium have developed a UAV that lifts off vertically via four propellers, rotates 45 degrees, and transitions to horizontal flight with lift coming from the wings. Under conventional flight with lift from wings, less power is required for flight, and the VertiKUL 2 has the advantage of speed and flight duration.

In tests, the VertiKUL has been able to travel for up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), with a cargo payload of up to one kilogram (2.2 lb). Lead researcher Bart Theys says, “We made a combination that uses the flight efficiency of an airplane and combines this with the vertical take-off and landing of a quadcopter or a helicopter. So we added wings and aerodynamically shaped profile to a quadcopter to make it fly fast and far.”

Feedback

Several listeners noted that the FAA sUAS registration webpage is blocked outside the United States. That makes it difficult for tourists and drone racing competitors to register before entering the country.

FAA error message

Tim Trott points to 3 Things Public Safety Officials Should Know About Drones by Jonathan Rupprecht, in sUAS News, and observes that the relationship between standards met and operating restrictions are inverted.

UAV129 Drone Defense Systems

Max and David recording the episode on BlabAnti-drone systems and shooting down drones, more legislation from California, the authority to control the airspace, the FAA clamps down on R/C and drone clubs in Washington, D.C., formation flying, drones in television and film, stealth UAVs, and the B4UFLY app.

And now, for something completely different…

Instead of recording this episode over Skype for an audio program, we tried a bit of an experiment and recorded a video show live on Blab.im with an audience participating.

Blab is a service where you schedule a video show on the topic of your choice. Up to four people at a time with webcams can participate in the video portion. Those watching can communicate in a chat session that runs alongside the video. The audience can jump into the video when one of the four seats opens up.

We were joined in the video by flight instructor and Airplane Geeks co-host Max Trescott. Mike Wilkerson from the 2GuysTalking Podcast Network also talked with us. Thanks to them and all the others who joined us live on Blab!

News

Counter-UAV Camera System Revealed

According to Ubergizmo, Airbus have developed a “Counter UAV” system that uses sensors to detect drones around aircraft. The system then spoofs the drone’s control frequencies and takes over command. Or the frequencies can be jammed to disable the drone. The technology comes from Airbus Defence and Space.

Drone wars: new UAV interceptor billed as net-firing solution to rogue flying

Michigan Technological University has developed an octocopter that fires a net up to 12 meters to capture rogue drones. The MTU drone can grab another drone with its net and carry it away, either autonomously or under human control.

Robotic Falconry – Drone Catcher System for Removing the Intruding Drones

A video of the Drone Catcher in action: Proof of concept prototype of a drone catcher system to intercept and physically remove the intruding multi-rotor drones from the protected areas (patent pending). This system offers a viable solution when force-landing or shooting the drones would jeopardize the safety. A patent has been filed.

Net Gun Drone – Excipio | Flite Test

In this video from Flite Test, a DJI Flamewheel F550 equipped with the Excipio Net Gun captures another drone in mid-air.

Drone Legislation Would Require Owners To Buy Insurance, Get UAV ‘License Plates’

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced the Drone Registration/Omnibus Negligence-prevention Enactment (DRONE) Act of 2016. If enacted, this would require that drone owners obtain insurance policies, register their drones, and obtain physical or electronic “license plates” for drones.

Gatto’s logic is, “If cars have license plates and insurance, drones should have the equivalent, so they can be properly identified, and owners can be held financially responsible, whenever injuries, interference, or property damage occurs.”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto Announces The DRONE Act of 2016

According to the press release, the “DRONE Act” would:

  • Require registration of, and tiny physical or electronic license plates for, drones.  All efforts to hold owners responsible (for example, for interfering with firefighting efforts) require this.
  • Require inexpensive ($1, or so) insurance policies sold at the point-of-sale, much like CRV is collected for bottles and cans.  This will ensure that if a drone hurts someone or damages property, the victim can be compensated, and is akin to the auto-insurance requirements under existing law.
  • Mandate that drones of a certain size, and equipped with GPS capability, feature automatic shut-off technology that would activate if approaching an airport.  This technology already exists, and is critical to protecting commercial passenger flights.
  • Implement various other provisions designed to enhance responsibility and mitigate risk.

Feds to Washington, D.C., Drone Enthusiasts: You’re Grounded

Under a new special flight rules area (SFRA), UAVs are now prohibited from flying within a 30-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The FAA says UAS are aircraft and aircraft are subject to the SFRA.

100 drones fly in formation to set new Guinness World Record

Intel and Ars Electronica Center in Austria have set a new world record by flying 100 drones in a pre-programmed formation. On November 4, 2015, 100 LED-equipped drones flew over an airfield near Hamburg, Germany. The official title of the record is: Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.

Mentioned

Tri Drone JourneyListener Neil’s first drone video with his Inspire 1 in Brisbane.

Video version of the episode

You can watch the video version of the episode below. You’ll likely want to fast forward to about 12:36 into the program to bypass our struggles to get something new working. Next time we’ll do better!

UAV128 Get the App Before You Fly

Tactical Robotics AirMuleRegistration of model aircraft moves to the courts, FAA releases an app and answers more registration questions, a cargo delivery UAV makes a first untethered flight, and a new drone challenge.

News

FAA Sued In Federal Court Over Drone Registration Rules

Attorney and model airplane enthusiast John A. Taylor from Silver Spring, Maryland believes that the FAA requirement for sUAS registration is a violation of Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Taylor requested an emergency stay of the registration requirement, but that was denied. The lawsuit is proceeding through the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, with a filing deadline of January 27, 2016.

FAA Administrator Huerta Addresses UAS Registration and Integration at CES

Administrator Michael Huerta spoke at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, praising the work of the Registration Task force and noting that as of January  6, 2016, 181,061 operators had registered their drones.

Huerta was joined by Registration Task Force members:

  • Dave Vos, project lead for Google X’s Project Wing
  • Nancy Egan, 3D Robotics general counsel
  • Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs for DJI
  • Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Schulman expressed concern about the ability to find an operator’s home address by looking up their registration number. On enforcement, Huerta says the FAA is trying for “voluntary compliance” but also that the FAA works closely with local enforcement.

FAA Releases B4UFLY Smartphone App

B4UFlyAlso at CES, Huerta announced the public release of the B4UFLY app for iOS, and the beta of a version for the Android operating system. The FAA says, “B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS).”

 

UAS Registration Q&A

The FAA Registration FAQs were updated to further explain the process:

Q52. Who can see the data that I can enter?

A. The FAA will be able to see the data that you enter. The FAA is using a contractor to maintain the website and database, and that contractor also will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data. In the future, the registration database will be searchable by registration number only, but not by name or address. However, it is not searchable at this time.

Q2. Does it cost anything to register?

A. Federal law requires owners to pay $5 to register their aircraft. However, registration is free for the first 30 days to encourage speedy registration of UAS. During the first 30 days, you must pay $5 with a credit card, a pre-paid credit card or a debit card from a major bank. A $5 credit will appear 5-10 days afterwards.

Q9. Does the FAA have two different registration systems? If so, why?

A. Yes, there are two systems. The online system is currently only required for UAS used for hobby or recreational purposes. This new registration process is quick and easy and provides the registrant with a registration certificate immediately. The paper-based system is for manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft that are not solely used for [non-]hobby or recreational purposes or weigh more than 55 lbs. This process takes much longer to complete and the $5 registration fee is non-refundable. The FAA will transition the paper-based system to a web-based tool later in 2016.

Q11. Are non-U.S. citizens visiting the United States on vacation or for drone competitions required to register?

A. Everyone, including foreign nationals and tourists, who operate a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes outdoors in the U.S. must use the FAA’s online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive the same registration certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents. However, this certificate will function as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US.

Q19. I would like to fly my Radio/Remote Controlled (RC) aircraft outdoors, do I have to register it?

A. Yes, RC aircraft are unmanned aircraft and must be registered online if they weigh more than 0.55 lbs. and less than 55 pounds.

AirMule: Autonomous Cargo Delivery, Beyond Line of Sight

Tactical Robotics Ltd announced a successful untethered first flight of the AirMule Vertical TakeOff and Landing UAV. This cargo vehicle with internal lift rotors should be operational in a few years.

Ford Targets Drone-to-Vehicle Technology to Improve Emergency Services, Commercial Business Efficiency

The $100,000 2016 DJI SDK Developer Challenge brings DJI and Ford together to create drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford SYNC®AppLink or OpenXC. This is an opportunity for you to design an unmanned rescue aircraft that can be used for search missions.

“The aircraft must autonomously enter the ‘disaster area’ and gather information on the location of the ‘survivors’, and transmit it back to the computing device in the vehicle. Having captured all necessary information, it must then automatically return and land on the moving vehicle.”

  • Primary Technical Challenge: Automatic landing on a moving vehicle
  • Secondary Technical Challenge: Vision Guided Flight
  • Tertiary Technical Challenge: Object Recognition

Video of the Week

CES 2016: Intel drone dodges ‘falling tree’ on stage

Intel demonstrated a drone at CES that flew an obstacle course and autonomously detected and avoided an object that fell in its path.

Mentioned

AMA Air – January 2016

AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs team members Chad Budreau and Rich Hanson talk about UAS registration.

UAV127 Small UAS Certificate of Registration

Small UAS Certificate of Registration

Small UAS registration is proceeding in the U.S., but AMA says to hold off, package delivery robots, drone registration in the Bahamas, security drones chase thieves, the FAA gets tough with states legislating drones.

News

sUAS Registration

The FAA sUAS registration website is open for operators of small UAS intended for non-commercial use. Reportedly, 45,000 registrations were filed in the first two days.

FAA-2015-7396-0001 (Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft) asks for public comments on the December 21, 2015, Interim Final Rule. Comments must be received by January 15, 2016.

Also, 8900.338 – New Requirements for Registering and Marking Small Unmanned Aircraft.

Document Information was issued and is primarily directed to Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and assigned sUAS focal points.

That document links to Notice: New Requirements for Registering and Marking Small Unmanned Aircraft [PDF] which informs Flight Standards Service field employees about the new requirements for the registration and marking of small unmanned aircraft found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 47 and 48. It also addresses surveillance, investigation and enforcement issues:

  • ASIs should be prepared to support sUAS activity within their area of geographic responsibility.
  • The use of Risk-Based Decision Making and compliance philosophy, along with current practice and procedures, should be used to support proper surveillance and vigilance over sUAS operations and the NAS.
  • During the conduct of accident, incident, occurrence, and complaint investigations involving sUAS, ASIs will ensure that the unmanned aircraft meet the compliance requirements for registration and marking.
  • ASIs shall use the guidance published in FAA Notice 8900.313, Education, Compliance, and Enforcement of Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators, and Order 8000.373, Federal Aviation Administration Compliance Philosophy, on the process of contact, education, and enforcement generally to be provided to individuals who are the subject of investigations involving sUAS aircraft.

You can find your local FSDO office at the FAA FSDO Contact page that will provide you with the address, phone, and office web page.

An alternative to drones: Company testing self-driving ‘Roomba-like’ delivery robots

Two former Skype co-founders launched Starship Technologies, a European company that plans to introduce a fleet of ground-based delivery robots. According to the company press release, the robots can carry “the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives.”

All Drones Must Be Registered By February

The Bahamian Department of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Transport announced that effective February 1, all drones must be registered. Compliance is required by the end of February. This announcement is in advance of a bill that will regulate the use of unmanned aircraft in the Bahamas.

FAA OKs drone-like copter for farm use

The FAA issued a Part 137 Agricultural Aircraft Operations Certification to Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. The Yamaha RMAX remotely piloted helicopter has a takeoff weight of around 200 pounds. Spraying operations are subject to approval by state and local authorities but are expected to begin in 2016. Almost 2,600 RMAX helicopters are currently in use globally, over two million flight-hours have been logged, and more than 2.4 million acres are sprayed each year.

The drone that will CHASE thieves: Security UAV will follow invaders to make sure they are on camera

The Japanese Secom drone is intended to operate autonomously with a surveillance camera to intercept intruders and transmit images to a control center. Japan’s Aeronautics Law has been changed, and no drones are allowed over areas with a population density of 4,000 people per square kilometer or more, and drones are banned near public events such as festivals and exhibitions. Local governments are looking at or have taken action to restrict drones in other areas.

FAA Drone Laws Start to Clash With Stricter Local Rules

The FAA is finally stepping in and informing local legislators that drones are aircraft, and the FAA regulates aircraft. Some legislators seem to be complying, but others do not like what they see as Federal intrusion.

Videos of the Week

Drone Crash Slalom Marcel Hirscher

A camera drone falls from the sky and crashes just inches behind skier Marcel Hirscher.

Video from AirVūz

Four of the biggest drone racing pilots in the world embarked on a journey to recreate one of their favorite movie scenes ever! The Speeder Bike chase scene from “Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”

Mentioned

Lufthansa, Fraport and DFS test drone technology at Frankfurt Airport

Tokyo police are using drones with nets to catch other drones

Screen Shots from the sUAS Registration Process

Visit http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ and click “Register Now” at the bottom:

1 register

At the welcome screen, click Register My Drone:

2 register

Create an account:

3 register

Receive verification email:

4 register

Open the email and click the link to activate your account:

5 register

Read the fine print and accept:

6 register

The login page is https://registermyuas.faa.gov/login. Use the credentials for your account:

7 register

Provide profile information (your name, physical address, and mailing address):

8a register

8b register

8c register

Accept the safety guidance:

9 register

Provide credit card details for payment:

10 register

Confirm order details:

11 register

Your registration number is issued:

12 register

13 register

UAV126 Ariel Seidman and Hivemapper

Hivemapper screen shotThe Hivemapper community-edited mapping and real-time navigation system for drone fliers.

Guest

HIvemapper logoAriel Seidman is co-founder and CEO of Hivemapper, which has been called “Waze for drones.” With Hivemapper, drone operators have a real-time view of obstacles and no-fly zones to help guide a safe flight. The growing database is a combination of data supplied by Hivemapper, observations from drone flights, and data added by drone operators. To date, this system has mapped over 30 million building boundaries and almost 20 million building heights.

We talk with Ariel about the problem that Hivemapper solves, and where the system is in its development. Ariel explains how your drone can make passive contributions to the database as you fly, and how it can capture photos that are sent to Hivemapper for additional data extraction. We discuss how Hivemapper hooks into the drone, which drones the system can work with, and what territory is covered. The Hivemapper app is available now for Android, and will be coming soon to iOS.

Previously, Ariel Seidman was Principal Product Manager at Siebel (Now Oracle), Director of Product Management at Yahoo, and CEO / Founder of Gigwalk. Find Hivemapper on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The article Hivemapper for Beginners on Medium provides an excellent overview of the system.

Video of the Week

New Underwater Drone Flies AND Swims

The “Naviator” is part submarine, part aircraft. Developed by Rutgers University researchers.

UAV125 sUAS Registration Announcement

On December 14, 2015, the U.S Department of Transportation and the FAA held a media briefing to announce the new registration requirements for small UAS. This special episode provides the audio from the announcement.

The rulemaking will appear in the Federal Register December 15, 2015.

  • The requirement applies to sUAS from 0.55 pounds to 55 pounds.
  • sUAS purchased before December 21, 2015 have until February 19, 2016 to register.
  • sUAS purchased after December 21, 2015 have until first flight outdoors to register.
  • There will be a $5 fee, but waived for the first 30 days.
  • The registration website goes live December 21, 2015.
  • The registration will be valid for three years.
  • One registration number applies to all your UAVs.

Press Release – FAA Announces Small UAS Registration Rule

Web-based Registration system

The full rule: Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft [PDF]

 

UAV124 DaVinci Challenge: Build a Drone Workshop

DaVinci Challenge students

DaVinci Challenge

Princess Aliyah Pandolfi created the non-profit Kashmir World Foundation to integrate art, science, and technology for sustainable projects that transform social and economic structures. One of these projects is the DaVinci Challenge: Build a Drone Workshop, which helps students see robotic aircraft from a broader perspective.

The workshop trains students and teachers in the design, fabrication, customization, and operation of small robotic aircraft. In this blend of science, technology, art, engineering, and math (STEM/STEAM), students learn about 3D printing, integration of robotic systems, and flying techniques as they build a quad­copter or hexa­copter in an actively engaging hands­-on and innovative workshop.

In the first three days of the workshop, participants build a drone from components, then set up and test them. The fourth day is Flight Day where students perform ground testing and flight check and conduct first flights. At the awards ceremony, participants receive a Drone Operator Certificate.

We attended a Flight Day on December 22, 2016, at the Northern Virginia Community College Loudoun Campus, and recorded a number of interviews:

  • High school senior Michael C. Kronmiller discusses using UAVs for avalanche search and rescue in Nepal. For more, see his website Bullis-Kanjirowa STEM.
  • Danny (age 12), Andrew (age 13), and Matthew (age 13) prepare their drone for its first hover.
  • On the field with the boys’ mothers as their sons made their first hover.
  • Fadwah and Kitty talk about using drones in the STEM club at Langley High School to increase student involvement. You can provide financial support for this group through Computer Science teacher Susan Huebsch, 703-287-2892.
  • Past workshop graduates Kevin Goth, his son Ben Goth, and Rob Klaus talk about their UAV project that utilizes a Raspberry Pi.
Santiago Makes Final Preparations

Santiago Makes Final Preparations

Rich Hanson (AMA) and Princess Aliyah Pandolfi

Rich Hanson (AMA) and Princess Aliyah Pandolfi

Preparing for First Flight

Preparing for First Flight

After Flight With Danny, Matthew, and Andrew

After Flight With Danny, Matthew, and Andrew

Aliyah, Santiago, and Rich

Santiago Gets His Drone Operator Certificate from Aliyah Pandolfi and Rich Hanson

News

FAA mulls ditching drone registration advice

The FAA’s sUAS registration rules should be released shortly.  Reportedly, “sources familiar with the matter,” say the FAA might deviate from the Task Force recommendations and impose a $5 registration fee. Also, retailers would be more deeply involved in the registration process.