A workshop to teach educators how to introduce drones to students, Flirtey is in the news again with another package delivery milestone, and a report on the Hogan Lovells sUAS Part 107 webinar.
Princess Aliyah Pandolfi updates us on the exciting projects being undertaken by the Kashmir World Foundation. We last spoke with Aliyah when we covered the DaVinci Build-a-Drone workshop in Episode 124. In order to create a more sustainable program and bring this highly successful STEM program to a broader audience, this special workshop was created for educators who can then teach students at their schools and universities.
The first educator workshop is July 11-15, 2016 at Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. Registration deadline is July 8, 2016. Visit www.kashmirworldfoundation.org for more information.
Aliyah Pandolfi and David Vanderhoof
Aliyah also explains a new project to monitor sea turtle activity with MiSHELL drones. To conduct their research, biologists must painstakingly locate sea turtle tracks on the beach and follow them to the nests. Kashmir World Foundation has partnered with Georgia Southern University at St. Catherines Island to discover how sUAS could be used to greatly increase the efficiency of the process.
In addition, Aliyah is conducting a private workshop this summer for girls and technology. This is sponsored by Eagle Ray, a woman-owned business specializing in strategic transformation services.
As a related resource, the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application(IACRA) is the web-based certification/rating application that takes you through the FAA’s airman application process. Remote Pilot certificates for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) will come to IACRA in late August 2016.
The DOT and FAA released the rule that finalizes the February 2015 NPRM titled Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. That NPRM proposed operating and certification requirements for sUAS to operate for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. To this point, those operations were allowed via Section 333 exemptions, COAs, and special airworthiness certificates. This rule now takes over and adds a new part 107 to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR).
Arvel Chappell III challenged the constitutionality of the charges brought against him by the City of Los Angeles. Chappell claimed the municipal anti-drone ordinance is preempted by federal law. The jury unanimously agreed.
Part 107 webinar for Monday, June 27, 2016. Topics covered will include:
Differences between the Final Rule and what the FAA initially proposed in the NPRM; Timeframe for implementation of the new rule; Implications for Section 333 Exemption / COA Holders; Operator certification/pilot certificate requirements; Flights near and over people; ATC approvals to operate in certain classes of airspace; Visual line-of-sight requirements; Vehicle design and airworthiness certification; Part 107 exemption process; and Upcoming FAA rulemaking and next steps moving forward.
The FAA tests a drone detection system at JFK and releases registration data, drone-on-drone refueling demonstrated, a drone that can perch on walls, a new UAS risk management course, and a review of a guide to drones.
The FAA conducted tests of the effectiveness of an FBI UAS detection system at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. Five different rotorcraft and fixed wing UAS participated in about 40 separate tests. Also involved in the tests were the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice, Queens District Attorney’s Office, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Griffiss International Airport test site in Rome, NY, provided expertise in planning the individual tests as well as the flight commander for the tests and two of the UAS used.
In response to a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA released a spreadsheet showing the number of UAS registrations by country, state/province/region, city, and postal code. Almost 40,000 entries for “Hobbyist” registrations, and nearly 5,000 “Non-Hobbyist” registrations. Names and addresses of registrants are not part of this database, and will only be made available by registration number.
Heatmap of hobbyist UAS registrations
Heatmap of non-hobbyist UAS registrations
We’d like to thank Airmap.com for providing the heat maps. Find the AirMap for Drones app in the iTunes store and use it to access low-altitude airspace advisories, create flights, file digital notices, manage aircraft, and more.
Chinese researchers have developed a method of autonomous aerial refueling where the “tanker” uses cameras to determine the position of the “receiver.” The tanker then flies to the receiving drone and refuels it through a boom.
Quadrotors have limited flight duration, so the ability to “perch” or land for extended periods of time would be beneficial, particularly for applications where the operator wants to collect data over time. Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory has been working on perching technology that would allow a small drone to land on a wall using an opposing gripping system.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announces a new 8-week on-line course which discusses risk management as it relates to UAS, and also covers international efforts at addressing that risk. Taught by Dr. Sarah Nillson, our guest on Episode 111.
David reviews this 144 page paperback by Adam Juniper and finds it to be a valuable resource. Author Juniper is a long-time R/C and drone flier, has produced many YouTube videos, and he has worked as a professional video producer.
The FAA created an advisory committee, permits educational institutions to fly UAS, and rescinded a proposed website for collecting reports of bad drone behaviour. UPS and Zipline partner for drone delivery of medical packages, and more interviews from the Drone Dealer Expo.
Zipline International medical package delivery drone
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta made two significant announcements at the AUVSI annual conference in New Orleans. Another advisory committee is being formed to provide advice on unmanned aircraft integration issues. Huerta said, “Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety. We know that our policies and overall regulation of this segment of aviation will be more successful if we have the backing of a strong, diverse coalition.”
Huerta also announced that students can operate UAS for educational and research purposes without going through the Section 333 process. This allows educational institutions to conduct activities that have been restricted in the past.
The UPS Foundation announced a partnership with Zipline, a California-based robotics company, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to “explore using drones to transform the way life-saving medicines like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.” The UPS Foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to support the initial launch of this initiative in Rwanda using Zipline fixed-wing drones.
Zipline International, Inc. is a robotics company that works with governments to provide access to medical products at the last mile. Zipline is supported by investors such as Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Subtraction Capital, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Stanford University.
Congress has directed the FAA to “assess the flight behavior of [drones] and enable the reporting of [drone] sightings that cause public concern for safety, national security, and/or privacy.” In response, the FAA planned to launch a website to collect “airborne and ground based observations by the public of drone behavior that they consider suspicious or illegal.”
Now, however, the FAA has withdrawn the plan [PDF], citing that the proposal “contained errors, and needs further clarification.”
This “fly away dronie” of Max Flight and @dronemama was taken by Hover Solutions, LLC at the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship, Maryland. Hover Solutions was at the Festival with their DJI Inspire 1 to film the festival for the organizers.
Hover Solutions provides aerial photography and video for clients, UAV education, and industrial applications such as orthomosaic mapping and multisensor scanning services, including 3D modeling and NDVI overlays.
Hover Solutions will be exhibiting at the 2016 Howard County Fair, August 6-13, 2016, at the Howard County Fairground in West Friendship, Maryland. They’ll have a booth next to the main building. Stop by and say hello!
A milestone for the UTM research platform, controlling drones with brain waves, FAA approval for night flying, rules for sUAS get one step closer, more from the Drone Dealer Expo, and a Flirtey goes into the Smithsonian.
A three-hour field test of NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform included 24 drones flying in all six FAA UAS test sites. Operators planned operations, entered flight plans, and used a variety of aircraft and software. Up to 22 drones were operated simultaneously. The UTM research platform checked for conflicts, approved or rejected the flight plans, and notified users of constraints. This Technical Capability Level One test addressed rural UAS operations within line-of-sight.
Sixteen pilots at the University of Florida used a brain-computer interface (BCI) to control DJI Phantoms down a 10-yard course. Each pilot was calibrated with electroencephalogram headsets measuring neuron activity, which was then bound to the controller for flight.
Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance has become the first commercial drone operator to be granted approval by the FAA to conduct UAV operations at night. Tremco plans to inspect buildings at night for energy leaks, rooftop damage, deteriorating façades, safety issues, etc. In partnership with Toronto-based Industrial SkyWorks, they’ve developed the SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Aerial Mapping) UAV using an Aeryon Skyranger quadcopter with HD video and infrared cameras.
Law firm Hogan Lovells reports that “the FAA has sent the Small UAS NPRM to the White House for a final interagency review.” The Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rule must go through a review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the White House. OIRA received the FAA’s Small UAS rule on April 20, 2016. Their review period averages 53 days.
Interview with Drone Nerds from Drone Dealer Expo
Continuing with Tim Trott’s interviews recorded at Drone Dealer Expo, we bring you his conversation with Lance Knowles from Drone Nerds, Incorporated, a distributor for brands like DJI and Monster X heavylift craft for commercial applications. Tim and Lance talk about the impact of regulations, the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and dealers, knowledge exams and check rides for drone operators, and measuring commercial drone operator proficiency.
The Flirtey drone used to make the first FAA-approved delivery in the U.S. has been accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. See recreational and home-built aircraft as well as classic automobiles. Enjoy presentations, demonstrations, special tours, and hands-on activities for all ages.
The Drone Manufacturers Alliance is formed, a Digital Notice and Awareness System for airports starts, the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee report is published, a satellite navigation system competition begins, and a new facial-recognition drone is available.
The Small UAV Coalition was formed to advocate “for law and policy changes to permit the operation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) beyond the line-of-sight, with varying degrees of autonomy, for commercial, consumer, recreational and philanthropic purposes.”
Now DJI, GoPro, 3DR, and Parrot have left the Coalition to form The Drone Manufacturers Alliance to focus on small drone and consumer issues. The Alliance hasn’t yet developed official policy statements, but they do say they the Alliance “… will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications. We will advocate for policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.”
Furthermore, “The Drone Manufacturers Alliance believes a carefully balanced regulatory framework requires input from all stakeholders and must recognize the value and necessity of continued technological innovation. By highlighting innovation and emphasizing education, we intend to work with policymakers to ensure drones continue to be safely integrated into the national airspace.”
AirMap and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have released the Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS), designed to allow airport operators to be aware of drone flights in the area. D-NAS lets UAS operators transmit encrypted digital flight notices through a mobile device app to the airport’s operations center. The “flight plan” shows up on an airport computer with the planned location of the flight, radius, height, and duration.
The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the “ARC”) has delivered its report on proposed rules for flying over populated areas. The stated objective of the ARC was “to consider recommendations for a performance-based standard that would allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure,” which would ultimately contribute to an enforceable rule imposed by the FAA.
Under Category 1, a small UAS may operate over people if the weight (including accessories/payload, e.g., cameras) is 250 grams or less. The ARC believes that the level of risk of injury posed by this category of UAS is so low that no performance standards and no operational restrictions beyond those imposed by the proposed part 107 are necessary.
Under Categories 2, 3, and 4, a small UAS may operate over people if it does not exceed the impact energy threshold specified for each category, as certified by the manufacturer using industry consensus test methods, and if its operator complies with operational restrictions specified for each category. Because the level of risk increases between Categories 2, 3, and 4, the performance-based standards and operational restrictions are scaled-up in each category to mitigate the increased risks.
Category 2 applies to the larger multirotor UAS that are common for recreational and commercial drones. The UAS may operate over people if the manufacturer certifies to the FAA that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and if it complies with industry consensus performance standards. The operator must also comply with the operator instruction manual, must maintain minimum set-off distances of 20 feet above people’s heads, or 10 feet laterally away from people, and may not operate so close to people as to create an undue hazard to those people.
Category 3 applies to UAS in commercial applications where the small number of people over which it might fly are all part of the commercial activity. The operation must be conducted over a closed or restricted-access work site with the permission of the site’s owner or operator. Overflight of people is limited to those who are transient or incidental to the operation.
Category 4 applies to small UAS that may operate over people, including flights over crowds or dense concentrations of people not included in Category 3. The manufacturer of the UAS must certify that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and the UAS must comply with industry consensus performance standards. Significantly, the operation must be conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus standards for conducting risk mitigation.
For commercial operations, the Air Line Pilots Association and helicopter and crop dusting industry representatives wanted an aviation knowledge test administered by the FAA and a background check from the TSA. However, most Committee members wanted only an online knowledge test.
The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is said to be the largest international competition for the commercial use of satellite navigation. Thorsten Rudolph, the CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen and initiator of the competition said, “We believe civilian drones have enormous potential in connection with the ESNC. We want to focus even more on the topic this year to promote the foundation of more visionary companies in the surrounding future market.”
People are obsessed with selfies these days. “Dronies” are the next technological step, and now we have the $349 ROAM-e drone from IoT Group that uses facial recognition technology to take self-portraits. The ROAM-e will follow you in the air for up to 20 minutes, fly within 25m of you, and always stay in constant view.
An autonomous package delivery drone, blanket COA altitude limit raised, FAA forecasts UAS sales, in U.S., states eye drone applications, NASA and AFRL developing a fully autonomous UAS, JPL applies Mars sensor technology to earth-bound drone, and the Pentagon will pair manned and unmanned jets.
In Episode 59 we reported that Flirtey was conducting package delivery tests in Australia. Flirtey now says they have successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved, urban drone delivery in the United States, in an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada.
The company successfully used a drone to deliver a package that included bottled water, emergency food, and a first aid kit. The six-rotor drone flew itself along a predetermined delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby during the delivery as a backup to the autonomous system but were never needed.
This test was completed through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Both partners are also working with NASA to develop a low-altitude air traffic management system. Additionally, Flirtey has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.
After conducting a risk analysis, the FAA has decided to raise the blanket altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators. Previously, the nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) limited such flights to 200 feet. The new COA policy [PDF] allows commercial use to 400 feet anywhere in the country, other than in restricted airspace or where the FAA prohibits UAS operations.
Attorney Jonathan Rupprecht describes how the original blanket authorization was written to avoid a COA choke-point. However, many radio towers are between 200 and 400 feet tall, and each of these towers needed a new, 400 foot site-specific COA. This bogged down the system tremendously.
The FAA estimates that the new blanket COA will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. The blanket COA also addresses the inconsistency where recreational drone operators can fly up to 400 feet while commercial operators were restricted to 200 feet unless they obtained another COA.
Other changes to the blanket COA include see-and-avoid requirements, reporting involving certain accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations, ATC special provisions, and flight planning.
The latest FAA forecast shows hobbyist and commercial UAS unit sales growing from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Hobbyist purchases were 1.9 million in 2016 and the forecast is 4.3 million by 2020. Commercial sales were 600,000 in 2016 and could grow to 2.7 million by 2020.
The FAA forecast for the top five commercial drone markets:
State funding for a drone pilot program at the Palm Beach Florida County Sheriff’s Office should allow them to use unmanned aircraft for “search and rescue, disaster assessment and assistance, interdiction of drug and human-trafficking activities, and situational awareness of a person whose life is in imminent danger.”
Michigan transportation officials are considering assessing bridge decks, traffic monitoring, inspecting confined spaces, and will conduct a two-year study. Minnesota tested a drone to help conduct safety inspections of bridges. Vermont is studying the use of drones to monitor river flooding and assist with road work. Massachusetts has been looking at the pros and cons of drone use.
NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hope to demonstrate the Traveler UAS that can autonomously plan, launch, navigate, and refuel itself. The FAA supports the idea and will use data from the program to help set future standards for UAS operations. A Traveler project demonstration flight outside of restricted airspace is planned for later in 2016. An autonomous mission without a safety pilot could take place in 2017. The demonstrations will use a modified BirdsEyeView Aerobotics FireFLY6 VTOL UAV, named “Elissa.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has successfully flight-tested a miniature, highly sensitive methane gas sensor onboard a small quadcopter. With application for pipeline inspection, the sensor is similar to the one JPL developed for use on Mars.
Deputy defense secretary Robert Work says that the air force will pair unmanned F-16s with F-35s in future battles. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing the autonomy algorithms needed to control the unmanned fighter jets. These algorithms would be hosted in line-replaceable units and thus, could easily be transferred between aircraft.
UAV Propulsion Tech has signed a reseller agreement with DST Control to market their lightweight, high performance gyro-stabilized electro-optical systems, and small, lightweight thermal imagers into the US unmanned vehicle and manned aircraft markets. UAV Propulsion Tech is a U.S. company that markets German, Canadian, Australian and now also Swedish technology into the North American UAV market. This includes propulsion, autopilot, servo/actuator, and rescue/recovery parachute solutions.
Tim Trott has written an e-book study manual in anticipation of the written test requirement for UAV operators that is included in current FAA authorization legislation. The book includes all 11 of the areas listed in the NPRM/14 CFR107 and a 50 question practice test with answer key. This material can provide preparation for the FAA test that may be coming.
Tim also tells us that as of March 31, 2016, there is a checkbox for commercial registration at registermyuas.faa.gov. Once the process is completed, a certificate number is assigned, and a certificate of registration issued for each UAS registered with the company. The new online system provides a certificate ID number instead of an N number. Those who want an N number must use the paper process.
A significant change for Section 333 holders, a carrier-based aerial-refueling system, mapping with UAVs, a drone that romps in the crowd, using drones for health care, extrapolating birdstrike data to drone strikes, an unmanned underwater vehicle, and a fuel cell-powered drone.
In the past, Section 333 exemption applicants had to list the makes and models of all UAS intended for use. If an exemption holder later wanted to fly a different UAS, an amendment was required. Now, however, newly granted exemptions say there is a:
The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program was originally envisioned to create an unmanned intelligence and strike asset. The Pentagon has now changed the program into the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) to create an unmanned carrier-based aerial tanker called the MQ-25 Stingray.
3D Robotics is partnering with Autodesk and Sony on a project that uses a modified Solo drone to scan a location and create a 3D map. The model or map would be uploaded while the drone is in the air, which would then be available to others offsite. The system uses the soon-to-be-released Sony UMC-R10C camera, and will come with a Sony tablet preloaded with Autodesk’s FORGE software. 3D Robotics says it is planning to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, hardware specialized for scanning agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs.
Aerotain had developed the helium-filled Skye drone to be used safely in crowds of people. The 3-meter diameter sphere has four motors to maneuver it almost like a flying eye. The Skye has a two hour flight time, and the rotor blades are not exposed, making it safe to use in a crowd. Applications include audience engagement at events, advertising, and live event HD video streaming.
10,000 children died of HIV-related illnesses in Malawi in 2014. There are only eight labs in the country that can test blood, and since many of the children live in remote villages, the samples are often transported by motorbike over dirt tracks. Now, in partnership with Unicef, a drone from California-based Matternet is being used in an experiment to deliver blood samples quickly and autonomously by air.
“Although aircraft collide with birds many thousands of times per year, only a tiny fraction of those collisions result in damage to the aircraft, much less human injuries or deaths. The most serious reported incidents typically involved flocks of large birds. Since the addition of UAS to the airspace is similar in many respects to an increase in the bird population, we conclude that the risk to the airspace caused by small drones (for example, weighing up to 2kg, or 4.41 pounds) flying in solitary formation is minimal.”
Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that can operate autonomously for months under water. Unlike other UUVs, the Echo Voyager does not require a surface support ship, and it can surface and transmit collected data back to users. Sea trials begin this summer off the California coast.
The Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.
The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.
A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.
The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”
“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”
Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.
One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.
Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.
The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.
DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.
Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.
The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.
David, Max, and guest Tim Trott (“The Drone Professor”) try their hand at broadcasting a live episode. We discuss the Micro UAS amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill, another lawsuit challenging the FAA right to require drone registration, and the results of two UAV criminal cases.
On February 11, 2016, Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis introduced a micro UAS operations amendment [PDF] to H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act of 2016. The amendment would add a new “Micro UAS operations” section to Chapter 455 of title 49, United States Code, and permit commercial operations under simplified and streamlined requirements and restrictions.
A micro UAS is defined as weighing 4.4 pounds (2 kg) or less. For commercial operation, there would be no airman certification requirements, no aeronautical knowledge test, no age or experience requirements, and no airworthiness certification requirements. Registration would still be required.
The requirements for the proposed Micro UAS category are:
fly below 400 feet above ground level;
fly no faster than 40 knots;
fly within visual line of sight;
fly only during daylight hours; and
stay at least 5 statute miles from the geographic center of a tower-controlled airport… unless the pilot provides prior notice to the airport operator and the pilot receives, for a tower-controlled airport, prior approval from the air traffic control facility located at the airport.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee voted to accept the micro UAS amendment and approved the entire AIRR Act, as amended.
DC think tank TechFreedom has filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the FAA’s drone registration requirement. TechFreedom says the FAA’s action violates Section 336 of a 2012 FAA authorization law prohibiting the FAA from promulgating ”any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” The lawsuit claims the FAA’s failure to provide the public with notice of the new regulation and an opportunity for comment was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion.”
In September 2014, Russell Percenti shot down a drone flying near his property. The drone’s owner said that he was taking aerial pictures of a friend’s home, retrieved his damaged drone, and called the police. Percenti, who admitted shooting the drone, was charged with criminal mischief and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
A man flying his drone in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was asked to land by park rangers. He initially refused to land and refused to provide identification. The park ranger used a Taser to disable the man as he started running away. The judge fined the man $1,000 and banned him from the park for one year.
The arms and rotors of the PowerVision PowerEgg unfold to reveal a UAV with a 360-degree panoramic 4K HD camera on a 3-axis gimbal, real-time video transmission, and an optical flow indoor positioning system.