Drone crashes on the White House lawn, actors playing drone pilots, a waterproof drone swims with the fishes, fighting fires with optionally manned helicopters, a record UAS flight, drone regulations around the world, and new FAA exemptions.
White House Incursion
A government employee who works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency lost track of the quadcopter he was flying from inside an apartment, and it landed on the White House lawn. The man, who reportedly had been drinking, turned himself in the next day after hearing about the news reports.
Apparently, the man flew a Phantom in and out of an apartment window. A friend says this quadcopter model has a flaw that causes them to fly away, and so the manufacturer is partially at fault.
DJI has responded with a software update that will disable all of its devices within a 15.5-mile radius of downtown Washington D.C. and around more than 10,000 U.S. airports.
This story has created a lot of attention in the press that raises issues including the lack of regulations and the need for security measures.
Story lines with military drones are making their way into various productions. The off-Broadway, one-woman play titled “Grounded” is performed by Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway, who portrays an Air Force pilot who is assigned to fly drones. Meanwhile, the movie “Good Kill” stars Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot who questions the ethics of his job.
Ambient Real Life presents a waterproof quadcopter that can skim along the surface of the water and take video of the sights below.
The US Department of the Interior wants to investigate the use of optionally piloted helicopters for forest firefighting. They want to “assess the feasibility of utilizing these types of aircraft for a variety of missions, including, but not limited to fire suppression at night and during low visibility conditions as well as cargo delivery.” Interior is asking interested companies for an initial response.
Some existing helicopters would seem to fit the requirements:
The Kaman and Lockheed Martin K-MAX has operational experience, and on November 5, 2014 a demonstration of eight firefighting scenarios was conducted at Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York where it gathered water and doused fires. Sikorsky’s MATRIX project has tested an S-76 as an optionally manned platform.The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout might be a possibility, but it’s a fully unmanned aircraft.
Aurora Flight Sciences says they have set a world endurance record for an unmanned aircraft system. Their Orion UAS flew for 80 hours, beating the previous official record of 30.5 hours set in 2001 by the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
Thailand’s Civil Aviation Department is drawing up rules that would:
- prohibit attaching cameras to drones except for business reasons
- restrict drones with cameras to use by photographers, film-makers, and journalists
- set a one hour maximum flight time
- limit weight and size
The Ministry of Transport would oversee and approve applications to use drones. Violators could face a year in prison and a fine of 40,000 baht (£813; $1,229)
If you fly your drone in a manner not allowed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), then upload the video to YouTube, your notoriety could land you a fine. In this case, $850.
CASA regulations state that hobbyists who fly for no commercial gain cannot fly their drones:
- Within 3 nautical miles of an airport;
- Above 400 feet in controlled airspace (large towns and cities)’
- Over populous areas;
- Within 30 meters of people;
- At night.
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which regulates civil aviation in the United Arab Emirates, says they are about to release regulations for unmanned aerial systems. Reportedly, the regulations will be based on weight and type of operators and will ban the use of UAVs near airports, residential areas, and public facilities and properties. A permit will be required from the GCAA, as well as coordination with the air traffic authorities.
The agency gave new exemptions to AeroCine, LLC for aerial cinematography, and to Burnz Eye View, Inc. for aerial photography and inspections. FAA-issued certificates of airworthiness are not needed “because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.”
Videos of the Week
Connor Burns of Skymatics flies the first drone approved for operation in downtown Edmonton on Jan. 28, 2015, a DJI Spreading Wings S1000. Video by Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal. The octocopter will be used to take video of construction projects for a design and planning firm.
What can you do with a feed truck, a drone, and a herd of cattle?