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The FAA definition of an aircraft, drones and agriculture, UAV privacy issues, FAA solicits a UAS Center of Excellence, Amazon Prime Air, X-47B milestone, drone legislation, and a successful UAV company despite regulatory uncertainty.
The FAA’s June interpretive rule treats model airplanes as aircraft. But what about other devices that fly – like the Flying Hovercraft that Hammacher Schlemmer sells for $190,000? Are those aircraft too?
With integrated wings and a 130-hp gasoline engine driving a 60″ wood/carbon composite thrust propeller, this hovercraft manufactured by Universal Hovercraft as the 19XRW-Hoverwing, can fly up to 70 mph over obstacles up to 20 feet high.
When asked about the status of wing in ground effect machines, the FAA replied that they haven’t made any determination because they have not received any applications for certification.
Tellus Agronomics AgriEye drone
The University of Maryland Extension and Wye Research Center understands that technology plays key role in the future of precision agriculture. So they brought together local farmers, agricultural educators, and representatives from farming technology tool companies. Perhaps not surprisingly, UAVs were a prominent part of the event.
Virginia-based consulting company Tellus Agronomics demonstrated their AgriEye Drone, a quadcopter for agronomists that features autonomous flight, live video feed, aerial mapping simulator, and RC simulator pre-flight training.
The National Agricultural Aviation Association reports that an ag helicopter was buzzed by a fixed wing “UAV” that caused the pilot some distress. The pilot notified the FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) who called local police, and they are seeking to prosecute the owner of the “UAV.” Only it was not a UAV, it was an Extra 300 aerobatic R/C plane.
Last month, President Barack Obama announced that he would be signing an executive order placing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in charge of developing voluntary privacy best practices for unmanned aerial vehicles. We haven’t seen an executive order on this yet.
The Federal Aviation Administration released a solicitation for a new FAA Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This COE was mandated by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This “COE will be tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.”
The COE will study: detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with air traffic control operations, and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crew members. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 15th.
Amazon is reported to begin testing of Amazon Prime Air in Mumbai and Bangalore, India, possibly as soon as late this year. Why India? Because commercial drone use in India does not need a permit from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Testing of the U.S. Navy X-47B continues, and recently it was launched from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, as was an F/A-18E Super Hornet. Carrier-based unmanned and manned aircraft had not previously flown together. The end game for the Navy is the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike aircraft (UCLASS).
DSLRPros in Oakland Park, California manufactures and sells drones and equipment for professional unmanned aerial filmmaking. The company started in 2012, and annual revenue is now $10 million, mostly from fire departments and farmers.
An apartment building resident observed some kind of drone flying outside the building for an estimated 30 minutes moving from apartment to apartment. It then hovered just feet from his window. The Vancouver Police Department says they received 10 complaints about drones since May. So far, nobody has been charged.
Paparazzi routinely harass celebrities and invade their privacy. Camera-equipped drones are the perfect high-tech tool for extending the reach of the paparazzi. The Paparazzi Reform Initiative is trying to do something about this situation and there is a proposal pending in the California Legislature that “would prohibit the use of aerial drones to collect video, photos and audio from celebrities and others in a way that violates their privacy rights.”
Video of the Week
Braden Roseborough captured stunning video of this never finished, abandoned nuclear reactor. It got a small feature on mashable.com: A Haunting Drone’s Eye View of an Abandoned Nuclear Plant
Tim Trott explains what we need to do to bring ADS-B to sUAS.
Mark sent in this C-Span video with some of Dr. Cummings testimony before the U.S. Congress from January 2014. She weighs in on technological illiteracy in the US, particularly in the government, and how it will be very important for our future to confront this issue.