UAV077 UAS Pilot Training

Sky-Futures

UAV training in Canada and Britain, a government hearing on UAS research and development, no date from FAA on the sUAS NPRM, a UAS communications study, and drugs on a drone.

News

1st Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) instruction designed specifically to meet Transport Canada’s new requirements

Aerobotika Aerial Intelligence and Pacific Rim Aviation Academy have partnered to offer a UAV pilot training academy. The 2-day ground school course will cover the new Transport Canada Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems for UAVs under 25 kg, operating within visual line of sight.

The curriculum includes standard pilot training, technical specifics of unmanned aircraft, industry practices and regulations, UAV rules and avoiding dangerous situations. Successful students will have met the special flight operations certificate (SFOC) knowledge requirements and receive a Letter of Completion that can be submitted to Transport Canada.

Aerobotika is an aerial systems development and operations company. Pacific Rim Aviation Academy operates out of Pitt Meadows Airport (CYPK) near Vancouver, Canada.

How should licensing work for commercial drone operators? A look at Britain’s solution

In Britain, the Civil Aviation Authority has approved three companies to provide UAV training: Sky-Futures, ResourceGroup, and EuroUSC. After receiving training, the pilot must provide a manual to the CAA describing how the UAV will be used and show they have liability insurance.

Sky-Futures provides trainees with a ground school manual to study at home for a month. After that, trainees have two days of ground school and three weeks of flight training in Spain.

The ResourceGroup training starts with an online learning program, followed by two days in the classroom, one day outside flying, then a one-day exam.

Committee Examines Status of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Regulations, and Research

The U.S. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research and Development hearing in January.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) opened the hearing to examine research and development of UAS and “provide an overview of how UAS research, development and flight tests enable the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.” Witnesses included representatives from NASA, FAA, the National Research Council, AUVSI, the Small UAV Coalition, and MIT.

Brian Wynne, President and CEO, AUVSI said, “for every day that UAS integration is delayed, the U.S. stands to lose $27.6 million in potential economic impact, according to AUVSI’s economic impact study.”

James H. Williams, the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office Manager, talked about the important role of interagency partnerships with DOD, NASA, etc. Williams noted work with NASA on, “air traffic control interoperability with the future UAS use of detect and avoid systems in controlled airspace,” and with both NASA and DOD on, “the appropriate minimum operational performance standards for UAS detect and avoid systems for UAS to remain clear of other aircraft.”

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

At the hearing, the big question was, when will the FAA issue its proposed sUAS rules? Chairman Lamar Smith asked James Williams from the FAA that question repeatedly. Williams had answers, but not the one Smith was looking for:

Smith: “Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?”

Williams: The FAA is “doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right.”

Smith: “When do you think you might get that [rule] out?”

Williams: “I at this point can’t give you a firm deadline.”

Smith: “Do you have a goal in mind? I mean, you’ve got a lot of people across the United States waiting. Do you have any kind of a working deadline or a working goal?”

Williams: “Our goals are to get it out as quickly as we can, as long as we get it out right.”

Smith: Is a rule is likely to come “this year or next year?”

Williams: “I can’t speculate. My own personal hope is we get it out as soon as possible, but it’s got to go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we’re working our way through that.”

Williams added, “You’ve got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking.”

Smith: “Never mind. I can tell that I’m not going to get the answer that I was hoping for. But we’ll take your word for expediting the process….”

New unmanned aircraft research project proposed by UND to take off

The University of North Dakota plans to test “new radio communications” of unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight. The unmanned aircraft program staff at UND proposed the project, and the University’s research oversight committee approved the proposal.

UND will start with the Northrop Grumman SandShark at the Lakota, N.D., airport. Funding is with $500,000 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and a matching $500,000 contribution from Rockwell Collins.

Meth-filled drone crashes in Mexican border town

According to Tijuana police, a hexacopter carrying more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine crashed into the parking lot of a supermarket. The DEA has reported that drones were used in about 150 drug flights in 2012 over the Mexico/US border.

Video of the Week

R/C Plane Crashes- Reveals Underwater WORLD

Footage from an RC airplane taken at The Cape Range National Park, in Exmouth Western Australia. After viewing the beautiful scenery, you’ll see the plane crash into the water and the GoPro keeps recording, capturing tropical fish and sea turtles.

UAV076 FAA Enlists Law Enforcement

Trace FLYR1

 

The FAA tells law enforcement what their role is in policing UAS usage, CNN signs an agreement with the FAA to share drone journalism research results, and drones are big at the Consumer Electronics Show.

News

FAA Issues UAS Guidance for Law Enforcement

This isn’t guidance on how law enforcement can use UAS. It’s guidance on how law enforcement plays a vital role in “deterring, detecting and investigating unsafe operations.” Specifically, FAA looks to law enforcement for:

  • Witness Identification and Interviews
  • Identification of Operators
  • Viewing and Recording the Location of the Event
  • Identifying Sensitive Locations, Events, or Activities
  • Notifying FAA of incident, accident or other suspected violation
  • Evidence Collection

The guidance document Law Enforcement Guidance for Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations is available as a PDF.

CNN strikes drone deal with FAA

In June 2014, CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced they would jointly study how to operate UAVs safely and effectively. At that time, they said they wanted to share the data from the study with the FAA. CNN has now signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the FAA that allows it to share the research data with the FAA.

CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante said, “Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups.”

International Consumer Electronics Show Coverage

The giant, annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gives the industry a chance to display products that are available to buy now, and concepts that you may or may not be able to buy later. As you’d expect, there were a lot of drones at CES:

Drones fly high at CES

The AirDog auto-follow drone is available for pre-order ($1,295) and is envisioned for recording extreme sports.

The GoPro-ready RTF Ghost Drone ($600) can be operated by a Smartphone app.

CES 2015: Unleash the Drones!

In a CES first, there was an Unmanned Systems Marketplace on the show floor with over a dozen companies exhibiting. The FAA was close by promoting “Know before You Fly” and handing out fliers.

The Trace FLYR1 (available for pre-order) is called, “A visually intelligent smart camera that can click in and out of a multitude of self controlled motorized accessories, allowing you to stay in the moment and stream your footage live to the internet.” It can follow you at a fixed distance by tracking a pattern on your shirt.

At one of the keynote speeches, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, shows drones from Ascending Technologies that use a depth-sensing camera from Intel. This technology finds the shortest route from Point A to Point B while avoiding obstacles in the way.

CES 2015: Why the future of drones is up in the air

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said, “Drones are arguably the most hyped product at CES.”

There was a pink version of the Ghost Drone at CES, under the belief that the quadcopter would thus be more appealing to the female market.

DJI showed their Drone Stick, a handheld mount when you are not flying your camera. It’s compatible with the DJI Inspire 1 camera and gimbal. DJI also announced the new H4-3D gimbal, which works with the GoPro Hero4 Black camera. It also works with the DJI Phantom 2 and Flamewheel systems.

CES 2015: The drone revolution begins with AirDog, Hexo+ and Nixie

The Hexo+ drone from Squadrone System is another autonomous auto-follow drone getting a lot of attention. They call it a “self-flying camera,” but you supply the GoPro and control it through an app. Available for pre-order at $1,149.

Video of the Week

Racing in a Las Vegas Drone Rodeo — CES 2015

A Drone Rodeo put on by DJI for a day of racing and of fighting drones with the madmen from Game of Drones.

Mentioned

Coit Tower Reopens After Controversial Drone Filming

Geo-matching.com is an independent comparison website for geomatic (including precision agriculture) and hydrographic products. The UAS for Mapping and 3D Modelling category lets you compare different UAVs.

UAV075 Charge Your Drone on a Pad

Skysense charging pad

A charging pad for your drone, USAF Unmanned Systems faces a huge manpower problem, real estate and agriculture gain FAA exemptions, timeline for ICAO RPAS standards, and UAS in Canada.

News

New Charging Pad for Parrot Drones Changes the Way You Charge Your Batteries

The portable Skysense Charging Pad is said to support nearly all existing multicopters and VTOL aircraft. Plug the Pad into an electrical outlet, land your drone on the Pad, and your batteries will charge at the same rate as your regular charging cable. Pads are available in different widths and should ship next month.

Skysense also offers the Droneport, “a protective closed structure that is managed remotely and can hold a Skysense Charging Pad and your drone. It also provides synching of sensor data to the cloud and connectivity within your Skysense Droneport network.”

Drone War pushes pilots to the Breaking Point

The U.S, Department of Defense wants 61 Combat Air Patrols (CAP) per day by April 15. Each CAP requires four Predators or Reapers for 24-hour coverage. These require ten “men” per drone per CAP, for a total of forty. With a shortage of drone pilots, the crews have high workload and low morale.

FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted two exemptions on January 6. One was to Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona. Their DJI Phantom 2+ quad will be used to “enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”

The second exemption was to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Their fixed wing senseFly eBee will fly to take “photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.”

Both still need a COA “that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.”

The FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

ICAO Panel Will Recommend First UAV Standards in 2018

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) new Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Panel is focusing “on development of standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for adoption by the Council of ICAO in 2018 related to airworthiness, operations (including RPAS operator certification) and licensing of remote pilots.” Detect and avoid regulations are to follow in 2020.

Cameraman hit with $1,000 fine for filming with drone

The co-founder of a Canadian video and photography company that uses drones was fined by Transport Canada after a real estate shoot. He’s fighting the fine, saying that Transport Canada’s rules on flying unmanned aerial aircraft are not clear.

City man has high hopes for school for drone pilots

Buoyant Aircraft Systems International in Winnipeg wants to develop a flight school for UAV pilots. They plan to take the idea to Transport Canada’s UAV working group in April for approval, and could be teaching by August, if approved.

Video of the Week 

Coast Guard Helo takes out drone

In August 2014, a hurricane caused heavy surf off the coast of California. That brought out body surfers, boogie boarders, and surfers, along with thousands of spectators and some camera-equipped quadcopters. One of the copters didn’t fare too well in the Coast Guard helicopter downdraft.

Mentioned

50 Things You Can Do With A Drone

Some applications you’ve seen before, some you haven’t, and some you shouldn’t.

UAV074 Did you get a Drone for Christmas?

Know Before You Fly

No sUAS NPRM, “Know Before You Fly” safety campaign, it may be OK to say “drone” now, UAS America Fund proposes rules, drone privacy legislation, ICAO looks at integrating RPAS into the air space, an embarrassing UAS test center first flight, and the MQ-8C Fire Scout takes flight.

News

No Firm Date For UAV Rules As FAA, Industry Launch Safety Campaign

At 2014 year-end, we don’t have an sUAS NPRM from the FAA, but we do have many new quadcopter owners after the holiday gift-giving season.

The Know Before You Fly education campaign was founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

Booming Holiday Drone Sales Creates Unknown Safety Risk

Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at the Phoenix, Arizona based Unmanned Vehicle University says “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle. People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys.  Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.”

Drone Defender Drops D-word Denial

Back in the day, you could get chastised for describing a UAV as a “drone.” But the press and the public have co-opted the term, and it may be time to embrace the “D-word.”

Industry Proposes A ‘Micro Drone’ Rule As Regulatory Deadline Looms

UAS America Fund proposal The UAS America Fund has filed a petition with the FAA proposing regulations for very small UAS for non-recreational purposes. This incremental regulatory approach is based on a risk analysis of FAA data, and addresses aircraft under 3 pounds and flown under 400 feet at least 5 miles from an airport.

The graphic from the UAS America Fund shows different regulatory and certification requirements for different categories of UAS missions.

West Virginia Senator proposes UAS Privacy Act

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV from West Virginia has proposed a law that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy websites for all commercial UAV operators where privacy policies are posted, including:

  • Information about the circumstances under which the UAS would be operated
  • The specific purposes for the images
  • Data and other identifying information that would be collected
  • Measures to be taken to anonymize and aggregate the information
  • Contact information

Private companies would be prohibited from conducting surveillance on individuals without their explicit prior consent.

ICAO Conducts UAS Fact-Finding Mission

At the invitation of the FAA, representatives from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission. They wanted to look at how the U.S. is integrating manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). ICAO has a technical body called the RPAS Panel made up of almost 100 international state and industry experts.

1st Nevada drone crashes seconds into FAA test flight

The hand-launched “Magpie” was to be the first UAV officially flown from the Nevada test site, and the press were there to capture the event. The Governor even made a speech. The moment came, Magpie was tossed into the air, and then immediately fell to the ground. The problem was attributed to an electrical controller issue.

U.S. Navy helicopter drone’s first flight

The U.S. Navy successfully flew the MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time off the USS Jason Dunham. This was from a moving ship at sea.

Video of the Week

Team BlackSheep XMas Special

Published on Dec 23, 2012, this video was taken by Team Black Sheep from a flight near Paris while attending LeWeb 2012. Is this a safe flight?

Mentioned

Surge in drones as Christmas gifts will show need for greater regulation: peak body

 

UAV073 FAA says Go, NYC says NO

Gray Eagle UAS

The FAA issues more exemptions, the NPRM might affect hobbyists, NYC looks at banning drones, agriculture eager to get started, Fort Bliss is building a drone port, and drone videos for the holidays.

News

FAA Grants Five More Commercial UAS Exemptions

The FAA granted five regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations to four companies under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The four companies that received exemptions want to fly UAS to perform operations for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections.

The FAA determined that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.

The FAA has a backlog of 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Integration, Oversight, and Competitiveness

FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Margaret Gilligan explained that the FAA implemented a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) program which will permit Test Site designees to issue experimental certificates for unmanned aircraft.

To help the test sites develop the capability to assess unmanned aircraft and issue these certificates, the FAA developed both online and in-person training. Once test site designees have completed FAA training, they will be authorized to work within this new program.

Drone downer: Will new FAA rules ground recreational fliers?

Congress in 2012 exempted hobbyists from new FAA rules – provided they adhere to, among other things, the safety code of a community-based organization, such as the 170,000 member AMA. But there are are an estimated 300,000 non-members flying hobbyist aircraft who are largely unaware of hobbyist association safety codes.

NYC lawmaker wants to ban drones except for cops with warrants

Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill banning use of all drones except for those operated by police officers with warrants:

No person may avigate a UAV within the limits of the city except:

  1. The police department in accordance with section 14-133.1.
  2. A person avigating such UAV pursuant to and within the limits of an express authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Councilman Paul Vallone introduced a different bill that is less aggressive. It lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator’s line of sight, or above 400 ft high. Otherwise, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones.

UAV Industry About to Take Off for Ag

At the recent Indiana/Illinois Farm Show, there was big interest in drones. Agricultural applications of UAV technology are taking place in Canada and Europe because drone use is not illegal. U.S. farmers are being cautious until the FAA creates regulations for commercial use, but several exhibitors at the Show were offering UAVs for sale. At price points between $1,200 and  $25,000, growers were advised to start low and evaluate the systems before making large investments.

Fort Bliss builds Gray Eagle UAV complex

The “droneport” will have a 50,000 square foot hangar and flight facility for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an upgraded Predator. The Gray Eagle has a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE), which can support various types of fuels. With the hangar will come a 5,000 foot runway, taxiways and aprons. A 1,000 foot runway will be made for the RQ-7 Shadows.

Program to Address Growing Need for Drone Operators

In the spring 2015 semester, Florida State University plans to launch the “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems” course as part of the new Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. It’s part of the University’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMHS) program.

Videos of the Week

Christmas on Wendhurst

A drone’s eye view of an amazing Christmas display shot by Daryl Watkins.

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens Deck the Hall 2014 Aerial Video

Andrew Cross created a Christmas display video of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens using a DJI Phantom 2 with a 3D gimbal and GoPro 3+, and a Tarot 810 Hexacopter with a gimbaled Sony NEX5T.

Airbus A310 by MM – indoor airshow Leipzig

This 1/22 scale Airbus is flown indoors. It has a 2 meter wingspan and weighs 284 gms. The fuselage is filled with helium to help keep the weight down.

UAV072 Drone for the Holidays

Arca Space AirStrato

A new civilian HALE, 12 drones for the holidays, where to fly your drone in the UK and Canada, drone near misses and hits, and a holiday video of the week.

News

Arca Space Announces New Range of High-Altitude UAVs

New Mexico-based Arca Space Corporation announced the AirStrato line of electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) UAVs. These fill a gap between large, expensive military unmanned aerial vehicles and small, inexpensive civilian commercial drones. The target market is small-scale businesses and research institutions.

The Twelve Drones of Christmas

FlightBots.com picked their favorite drones for the holiday season:

  1. Quadcopter Q4 Nano – A very small RTF.
  2. Hubsan X4 HD – A low cost little starter drone quadcopter with HD 2MP Camera.
  3. Hubsan X4 H107D FPV – An out of the box basic first person view (FPV) starter drone.
  4. Blade 180 QX HD ready to fly (RTF) – A low cost starter drone for aerial photography.
  5. Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite – Control this using your smartphone or tablet.
  6. Quanum Nova – Outperforms other drone in its price range.
  7. Walkera QR X350 PRO – An RTF FPV Quadcopter that generally costs less than competing products.
  8. DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ – The easy to fly all-in-one consumer drone with advanced software.
  9. 3DR IRIS+ – For real consumer and professional applications.
  10. 3DR X8+ – A real workhorse with modular design and autonomous delivery capabilities.
  11. Walkera Scout X4 – Features include the ability change from quadcopter with 4 motors to octocopter with 8 motors, real time telemetry and flight times up to 25 minutes.
  12. DJI Inspire 1- Carbon fiber arms lift out of sight, 360 degree view, 4K video, 12 megapixel photos.

Where you can and can’t fly a drone

The niche hobby has turned mainstream, and that means lots of new drone pilots after the holidays. What are the rules in the UK?

TGI Friday’s Dumb Mistletoe Drone Cut Somebody’s Face Open

TGI Friday’s idea for drones carrying mistletoe inside the restaurant has already resulted in an accident. During a demonstration for the Brooklyn Daily, the pilot encouraged the reporter to let him land the drone on her hand. She flinched and the drone struck a photographer in the face.

Pilots fear private drones after Heathrow near-miss

The UK Airprox Board (UKAB) is expected to release its report on December 12 about the Heathrow Airport incident earlier this year where an Airbus A320 with passengers had a close encounter with a civilian drone.

Near-collisions between drones, airliners surge, new FAA reports show

Reports of near collisions between unmanned and manned aircraft continue to be reported to the FAA by commercial pilots, private pilots, and air traffic controllers. Since June 1, there have been 25 such encounters of small drones coming “within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft.”

The list is available from The Washington Post in Near Mid-Air Collisions With Drones.

The Government Admits Drone Rules Won’t Be Ready Until at Least 2017

The FAA was given until September 2015 to establish regulations that integrate UAS into the National Airspace. The The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the rules won’t be in place until 2017 or later.

Video of the Week

This Drone Video of Synchronized Holiday Lights Is the Most American Thing Ever

A subdivision in the American Southwest synced up a neighborhood-spanning light show to Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter,” ​and filmed the whole thing with a drone.

Feedback

DroneIQ – How to freely operate a commercial or research drone in Canada

By freelance reporter and UAV enthusiast William Levasseur. This video provides details about the new Transport Canada regulations for commercial UAV operations.

DroneIQ – Why the Transport Canada UAV exemption is useless

This follow-on video explains why the Transport Canada definition for “built-up area” might make the new exemption useless for anything other than surveying very remote farmland or working in the wilderness.

UAV071 Are Strict sUAS Regulations Better Than No Regulations?

SkySpecsShould we be satisfied with strict regulations if that will allow commercial operation of UAVs to begin? Also: The FAA looks to focus on drone certification and pilot standards, Canada makes it easier to fly small UAVs, UAS pilot training, model aircrafters getting swept up in drone regulations, and a proposal to allow drones to fly in US National Parks.

Guest

Ryan MortonRyan Morton is a roboticist. He’s the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of SkySpecs, which produces innovative drone technologies that help pilots focus on the mission without worrying about what they might crash into next. SkySpecs is also working with various government agencies to integrate drones into the airspace.

Ryan was recently interviewed for the Wired article, The FAA’s Drone Rules Are Too Narrow, But They’re Better Than Nothing.

Ryan is a veteran of the USAF and graduated from both the California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and the University of Michigan. He was a member of the winning team at MAGIC 2010, a US/Australian-funded multi-robot exploration competition wherein (mostly) autonomous ground-based robots explored an unknown environment and detected various objects of interest.

At the Executive Order 12866 meeting at the White House with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Ryan had the opportunity to assist Lisa Ellman and others from McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA), as well as another industry startup, Measure, in discussing some views on sUAS integration. One of those is that stalling the process to get the UAS regulations “perfect” from the start is a mistake. Instead, we should implement some regulations now, even if overly restrictive, then iterate.

The excellent MLA blog Plane-ly Spoken covers topics such as recent decisions and litigation, legal trends, airworthiness directives, regulatory interpretations, FAA counsel opinions, and FAA enforcement actions.

News

Huerta Says UAS Rules Stress Certification, Pilot Standards

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta reconfirms that the FAA intends to issue the proposed small UAS regulations by year-end. He says, “I can’t say what is going to be in it but broadly speaking, what we are looking at are all the questions relating to how we certify the aircraft and what are the qualifications of the operator as well as what uses they can be put to.”

New rules for small unmanned aircraft: Transport Canada makes it easier to fly small UAVs for work and research

Transport Canada released Advisory Circular (AC) No. 600-004, Guidance Material for Operating Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems under an Exemption. This introduces two exemptions that will not require a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). These are for very small UAVs (under 2 kg) and small UAVs (between 2 kg and 25 kg).

Unmanned Experts Partners with Gold Seal to Provide FAA Ground School

As we speculate about what the FAA will propose for sUAS regulations, it’s a pretty good bet that some type of operator certification or license will be required. That implies there will be some training for pilots. Flight training provider Gold Seal has teamed up with Unmanned Experts to adapt the manned aircraft training for UAS. The UAV Ground School PPL Course is now available for purchase.

Fraunhofer developing flying inventory robots to keep tabs on stock

A project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics would have autonomous drones perform warehouse operations like stock taking and record keeping. Under the InventAIRy Project, warehouses wouldn’t have to shut down while employees took a physical inventory.

In a conventional RFID inventory tracking system, the chips are in the goods which are recorded as they pass by the antennas. In this system, the chips remain stationary, but the antennas move – on a flying robot.

Domestic Drone Casualties

The writer is concerned that the model airplane hobby is getting swept into the whole UAS regulations process, and this isn’t good for R/C and it isn’t good for full sized aviation either.

Video of the Week

DJI Phantom 2 Epic (Domtoren Utrecht)

Listener Frank sends us this beautiful video of a drone flying in the mist.

Feedback

Listener Andy offers three points concerning the US National Park ban on UAVs:

  1. As a hiker, scrambler, and a lover of peace, quiet, and solitude… I do not want some bozo flying these things around me or my family while I am trying to enjoy mother nature.  The reason I am there in the first place is to get some respite from some of the bozos in my everyday life.
  2. As a photographer/videographer, and lover of all things that fly (except mosquitoes  – the bug, not the plane),  I also love getting that unique viewpoint that only a drone/UAV can provide.
  3. But… Point 2 cannot be at the expense of safety or annoying someone who relates to Point 1. 

Andy describes how most National Parks are large, with visitors tending to concentrate in a few areas, leaving many isolated locations away from the crowds. There is plenty of space to fly to get unique aerial footage without compromising safety, space, and solitude.

With that, Andy recommends that hobby drone/sUAV flight should be permitted in the National Parks with the following guidelines…

  • No flying at High Density Area Lookouts/Features or Ecologically sensitive locations (e.g. Mt. Rushmore/Yosemite ValleyOld Faithful Geyser Basin). This can be defined/zoned and given to the pilot when they obtain a permit. 
  • Charge a permit fee – make it reasonable ($10 a day, $20 a week). The permit process would force the “pilot” to get current information on where flying is or is not permitted.
  • Operator must be an AMA member or certificated pilot. This would ensure at least some training/knowledge/exposure to things that fly as compared to the standard individual.
  • As part of the conditions of the permit: common courtesy. If there are any other visitors in the vicinity that flying disrupts or once an objection is raised, the operator must quit.  (Offering the other guests a dronie may help promote positive responses.)
  • General AC 91-57 adherence (400 feet, LOS, etc.).
  • No Wildlife harassment (set a distance restriction.)

Mount Rushmore

In his visits to the Badlands, Custer State Park, and Mt Rushmore, Andy noticed helicopter operations present. These, he says, are noisier than typical multicopters.

UAV070 Preview of the FAA sUAS NPRM

NAB Chernobyl Aerial VideoSneak peak at the FAA sUAS regulations, NZ drone regs, bioengineered drones, busting poachers, the threat to airliners, first amendment issues, and GoPro to enter the UAV market.

News

Drone Flights Face FAA Hit

The Wall Street Journal reports that “people familiar with the rule-making process” are talking about what we can expect in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from the FAA for sUAS.

The expectation is that the FAA will:

  • Lump all sUAS under 55 pounds under the same regulations
  • Require sUAS operators to have a manned-flight pilots license
  • Limit flying to daytime hours, below 400 feet, line of sight.

The NPRM is still expected before year-end, followed by a public comment period.

New Zealand to introduce civil UAV regulations

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) plans to issue New Zealand’s notice of proposed rulemaking for unmanned air vehicles on December 4. There are no details on what the proposal will contain, but the CAA had input from the UAVNZ industry group and Callaghan Innovation, an entity that promotes economic progress in New Zealand. The CAA says that certification will likely be required for operators of high risk UAVs.

NASA Is Working on Creating Bioengineered Drones Made of Mushrooms and Bacteria

NASA is supporting the Prototyping a Biological UAV project “to grow a mycelium-based chassis for [a] biological drone.” One motivation for this program is to create lightweight sensors that require no electrical energy.

Poachers Caught by ShadowView Drones

ShadowView Foundation drones were used during an anti-poaching operation in the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa.  Rhino poachers were apprehended as a result.

This is believed to be the first time drones were used for this purpose.

ShadowView used information from the drone to direct local rangers on the ground. “One of the rangers reported via radio the poachers were heavily armed and immediately engaged upon sight. During the ensuing firefight, the rangers unfortunately killed one of the poachers.”

Is The Small-UAV Threat To Airliners Overrated?

Regulatory agencies require that commercial aircraft withstand impact by birds. This article wonders if existing regulations for bird strikes can be extended to include small UAVs.

Up in the Air: The free-speech problems raised by regulating drones

Ferguson, Missouri has been the scene of protests and vandalism after a Ferguson Police Department officer fatally shot an 18-year-old man. The FAA granted no-fly zone requests, but there are indications that this was done to keep news helicopters out of the area. This article explores possible First Amendment issues associated with news gathering by drone.

WSJ: GoPro Is Going to Make Its Own Drones

Reportedly, GoPro is going to start making its own multi-rotor helicopters in the $500-1,000 range. Availability is said to be late 2015.

The 19 best drone photos of 2014

Mashable picks 19 awesome images that could only have been created from an aerial perspective.

Video of the Week

Chernobyl by Drone  

Eerie video of the Chernobyl Exclusion Area almost 30 years after the meltdown.

UAV069 NTSB on FAA v. Pirker: Remanded

Stunt Sheep Don’t try this at home: Trappys $10k fine UVA videoThe NTSB issued its Opinion and Order in the FAA v. Raphael Pirker matter, reversing the Administrative Law Judge’s decisional order and remanding the matter for further proceedings.

Guest

Justine HarrisonJustine Harrison is an attorney whose practice includes corporate and aviation law. She’s a multi-engine instrument rated pilot, aircraft owner/operator, and an experimental aircraft builder.

Justine understands aviation issues, has experience in aviation transactions, as well as FAA and NTSB matters. Her aviation clientele includes companies which research, develop, manufacture, service, and test unmanned aircraft. Justine also defends individuals and companies in FAA enforcement actions.

Justine is also fresh from the first ever Unmanned Aircraft Systems Workshop organized by the American Association of Airport Executives. This was a great opportunity to hear concerns from airports, which are both anxious and nervous to get in on the unmanned action.

News

The FAA had assessed Pirker $10,000 based on “alleged careless or reckless operation of an unmanned aircraft.” Pirker’s appeal was heard by an NTSB Administrative Law Judge who terminated the enforcement proceeding and declared that Pirker’s Ritewing Zephyr was a “model aircraft,” not an “aircraft” for purposes of regulation. The FAA then appealed to the Board.

On November 17, 2014, the NTSB issued an Opinion and Order in the matter of the FAA v. Raphael Pirker reversing the Administrative Law Judge’s decisional order and remanding the matter for further proceedings.

In its November 18, 2014 Press Release, the NTSB says, “The National Transportation Safety Board announced today that it has served the FAA and respondent Raphael Pirker with its opinion and order regarding Mr. Pirker’s appeal in case CP-217, regarding the regulation of unmanned aircraft. In the opinion, the Board remanded the case to the administrative law judge to collect evidence and issue a finding concerning whether Pirker’s operation of his unmanned aircraft over the campus of the University of Virginia in 2011 was careless or reckless.”

In its appeal, the FAA argued two main points:

  1. The law judge erred in determining respondent’s Zephyr was not an “aircraft” under 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6) and 14 C.F.R. § 1.1.

49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6): “aircraft” means any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.

14 C.F.R. § 1.1: Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.

  1. The law judge erred in determining Pirker’s aircraft was not subject to 14 C.F.R. § 91.13(a).

14 C.F.R. § 91.13: Careless or reckless operation.

(a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

On the definition of “aircraft,” the NTSB found that Pirker’s unmanned aircraft system is an “aircraft” for purposes of § 91.13(a). The NTSB relied on the plain English in the statutes, which doesn’t exclude model aircraft, and doesn’t differentiate between manned and unmanned aircraft. 

The NTSB says, “We acknowledge the definitions are as broad as they are clear, but they are clear nonetheless,” and, “In summary, the plain language of the statutory and regulatory definitions is clear: an ‘aircraft’ is any device used for flight in the air.” 

In summary, it doesn’t matter if Pirker’s Ritewing Zephyr is a model aircraft or not, and it doesn’t matter if it’s manned or unmanned, it’s still an aircraft under 14 C.F.R. § 91.13 which prohibits operation “of an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” 

The NTSB concludes, “We therefore remand to the law judge for a full factual hearing to
determine whether respondent operated the aircraft ‘in a careless or reckless manner so as to
endanger the life or property of another,’ contrary to § 91.13(a).”

Video of the Week

Stunt Sheep Don’t try this at home: Trappys $10k fine UVA video

UAV068 A UAV Entrepreneur

DJI Inspire 1

Opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs looking to develop a commercial UAV business.

This Episode

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle industry is in its infancy and presents many business opportunities to entrepreneurs. Some opportunities are obvious, like agriculture, real estate, emergency response, and package delivery. Others have not yet been imagined.

In this episode, we look at issues for UAV startups, with someone who is immersed in that process.

Guest

Don Toporowski is an advisor to clients of both the MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest centre for innovation and business acceleration, and with startups coming out of the Queen’s Innovation Connector.

Don has focused on the CleanTech sector for most of his career, but he recently shifted his focus to the UAV market. He hopes to find a few entrepreneurs with very good ideas for businesses developing or using UAV technologies, and to help them build winning sales strategies, raise capital, and become successful in their endeavors.

Don describes some UAV startup success stories, and the current roadblocks faced by entrepreneurs: regulatory uncertainty, funding issues, availability of business insurance, and reliability of UAVs.

Contact Don at don.toporowski@gmail.com, +1 416 722-2007, on Skype at dontoporowski, or search for Don Toporowski on LinkedIn.

News

The DJI Inspire One is the coolest drone I’ve ever seen

DJI just released the Inspire 1 quadcopter, intended to offer more professional level features than the Phantom, yet still remain relatively easy to fly.

The Inspire 1 has legs that fold to allow an unobstructed view, a ground-facing camera for stabilization when there is no GPS signal, and a 4K video camera. Price is set at $2,800.

The video of the launch event DJI Inspire launch – November 12, 2014 shows the new quadcopter. [Fast forward to 14:30.]

Videos of the Week

Mexico City International Airport from Above shows the airport from a different perspective.

Drone tour of Tower of London poppies came to us from longtime listener Mark. It shows the armistice poppies around the Tower of London. Nearly 900,000 hand made ceramic poppies represent the fallen British soldiers from World War I. Each poppy has been sold to raise money for service charities.