Tag Archives: Predator

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.

UAV059 Sense and Avoid

NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft SystemSense and Avoid by NASA and General Atomics, South African rules by 2015, Amazon’s drone page, package delivery by Flirtey and Google, and cease and desist letters from the FAA.

Guest

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.), the NASA Administrator since July, 2009.

In this clip from a longer interview recorded for the Airplane Geeks podcast, Charlie talks about NASA’s activity to develop autonomous flight technologies with the UAS test sites, focusing on sense and avoid. NASA is looking at low altitude sUAS air traffic control, and they are finalizing an agreement with Google on sense and avoid technology for package delivery systems. NASA wants to help the FAA get out ahead of the developing market.

News

General Atomics Readies for ‘Detect and Avoid’ Demo

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing aircraft detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems for unmanned aircraft. First, they’ll conduct software regression and hardware functional testing on their Predator B at the company’s flight operations facility in Palmdale, California.

Then, they’ll move the system to the NASA Predator B Unmanned Science and Research Aircraft System named “Ikhana,” a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent, conscious, or aware. Five weeks of collision avoidance trials will be performed where the Predator will be flown against “intruder” aircraft.

CAA on track to introduce UAV regulations by March 2015

The South African Civil Aviation Authority says it will finalize UAV regulations by March, 2015.

The CAA says until then, UAV operation in civil airspace is illegal and operators could be subject to a fine or up to ten years in prison, or both. Flying on private land or in restricted airspace is also illegal.

However, the director and chairman of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of South Africa (CUAASA) says you cannot be fined by the CAA because there are no laws in place.

Guess Which Giant Retailer Has Officially Opened Up a “Drone Store”

Amazon.com has officially opened a “Drone Store” featuring the DJI Phantom and the Parrot Drone. Coming soon is the TechJect Dragonfly, a “Wi-Fi enabled robotic insect.”

Mike Fortin, the CEO of CineDrones thinks selling hobby-grade equipment without emphasizing education or safety is irresponsible. But Amazon’s Drone Store web page has a “Fly Responsibly” link that takes you to more “links for informational purposes only:”

Drone Startup Flirtey Partners with The University of Nevada, Reno To Push UAV Delivery Forward

In October 2013, Flirtey started drone delivery tests in Australia. They now have more than a hundred successful test deliveries of textbooks, with its partner Zookal, a company that sells textbooks online.

Now Flirtey has teamed up with UAS research center University of Nevada, Reno. The University gets equity in the company, and Flirtey gets collaboration with the University’s R&D labs for design, manufacture, and research. Flirtey also gets access to the University’s graduate students and indoor flight-testing facilities.

Flirtey is going commercial in New Zealand, which is launching Airshare as a UAV hub where commercial operators can log flight information.

2 Arrested for Flying Drones Near Brooklyn Bridge, US Open: NYPD

The first individual arrested was allegedly flying over the Brooklyn Bridge. He was reported to police by transit workers. The man was visiting from Russia.

The second arrest was for an overflight of the National Tennis Center, hosting the U.S. Open.  The operator, a filmmaker, reportedly stated that he thought he was flying in an “appropriate park space.” The National Tennis Center is a private facility adjacent to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is a public space.

Undeclared drone batteries sparked plane fire at Melbourne airport

We’ve seen stories about how certain kinds of Lithium-Ion batteries get hot and cause fires on airplanes. Here, a passenger’s hard plastic case in the hold contained Lithium-ion polymer batteries intended to power a remote control drone. Just prior to takeoff, the captain of the Fiji Airways plane detected the smoke from the cargo hold and called a mayday.

FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

In January, Governmentattic.org made a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA for “copies of any letters, e-mails, or other written or electronic communications requesting or demanding individuals and organizations cease and desist, stop operating, or stop advertising unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The FAA responded with records of 17 “warning letters and e-mails [PDF] sent out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices to individuals…” Most of the cease and desist letters went to aerial video companies, but two universities were asked to stop operations associated with drone journalism studies.

The FAA communications list 3 ways under which UAVs can be operated:

  1. Certificate of Authorization (COA)
  2. Experimental Certification
  3. Recreational hobbyists

None allow commercial operation for aerial photography for hire.

Video of the Week

Gawk at Richard Branson’s tropical hideaway via aerial drone

You can’t afford to vacation at this private island, but Sir Richard is pleased to present this aerial tour.

Feedback

Paul Braun of TATTS writes to tell us that, “the Taking Autism To The Sky project (TATTS) was notified by Timothy Reuter of the Washington DC Drone User Group the other day that we are a finalist for the Social Drone Innovation Award.” Watch their Drone Social Innovation Award Submittal video and give them a “like.”

UAV041 Regulating UAS

Flying Fire Breathing Dragon

UAS regulation proposals from CASA in Australia and from a listener in the U.S., a “Ten best drones” list, NASA testing sense and avoid with a Predator, and bright job prospects for those with UAS skills.

The News:

NPRM 1309OS – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems
Australia’s ‘low risk’ drone strike stance could bring down airliners
Certified UAS operators in Australia hits 100

The Australian CASA released an NPRM (a Notice of Proposed Rule Making) on May 14 concerning Remotely Piloted Aircraft (or RPA) used for commercial operations. It excludes model aircraft used for recreational purposes, but it does have provisions for a “low risk” class of RPA with a gross weight of no more than 2 kilograms:

10 Best Remote Control Drones for 2014

The editors at Faveable made a list of what they believe to be the ten best consumer drones available today.

NASA Wants To Prove Predator Drones Can Play Nice With Airliners

NASA plans to fly an MQ-9 Predator B and two manned manned aircraft in the same airspace. The idea is to test sense and avoid algorithms under real world conditions.

Graduates with drone skills are going to be in demand soon

If you can design, build, or operate drones, you might have a bright future ahead of you. In a 2013 report, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says we could see 70,000 new jobs in the U.S. within three years, and 100,000 new jobs by the year 2025.

Video of the Week:

Drone HDR with HDRinstant

Use stacking and morphing technology to create HDR images from your drone videos.

Listener Feedback:

Roy submits two articles for consideration:

Question: What Should the FAA Do About Small UAS? – General Aviation needs to participate in the conversation.

UAVs: Chafing (Rightfully) Against Regulation – The UAV industry and enthusiasts are different than “legacy” aviation. They are historically unrestrained by regulations, and live in a world of fast technology change. The FAA is talking like they are in charge, but they aren’t.

Roy also offers the things he thinks the FAA should be looking at when classifying UAS: weight, speed, and type of control. Type of control defined as:

    • Line of sight and the pilot has to watch it.
    • Point of view and the pilot flies it by watching a video feed from the drone.
    • Completely autonomous, so no pilot is required.

UAV024 – UAV Licensing and Permitting Proposal

DJI Phantom

A proposal for licensing and permitting small UAV operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection grounds their fleet, quadcopters filming whales, and drinking and droning don’t mix.

Proposal for UAV/sUAV Licensing/Phased Permitting Plan

Listener Tim Trott submitted a proposal for a collection of UAV classes, each with requirements for airframe type (multi-copter or fixed wing), weight, altitude, operation in private or public areas, VLOS or FPV, logging, observer requirements, safety and flight testing, insurance, and collision avoidance capability:

Class E – Experimental/Photographic

Under 5 pounds, VLOS only, under 100 feet above terrain, private property only (no public areas). No spectators within 25 feet. Observer required. Multicopter (sUAV) only. Insurance required (AMA or better). Airframe Certification form, logging required. Written safety test, Level E Proficiency flight test. Interim 1 year temporary permits pending full rule implementation.

Class D – Motion Picture/Corporate/News/Journalist

Under 20 pounds, VLOS only, limited to 400 ft above terrain unless flight plan filed and approved. Insurance required, private property only (no public areas without permit). Observer required. No spectators within 25 feet. Fixed wing and multicopter sUAV. Airframe Certification form, logging required. Written safety test, Level D Proficiency flight test.

Class C – Agricultural/Industrial

Under 25 pounds, FPV supervision, limited to 400 feet above terrain. Insurance required, private property only (no public areas). Observer required, no spectators within 25 feet. Fixed wing and multicopter UAV. Observer required. Airframe Certification form, logging required. Written safety test, Level C Proficiency flight test.

Class B – Public Safety/Utility (Fire, rescue, public safety, pipeline and waterway monitoring)

Under 30 pounds, FPV supervision. Under 400 feet above terrain, above 400 feet with filed flight plan. No spectators within 25 ft. Public and private airspace. Fixed wing and multicopter UAV. FAA Review. Collision Avoidance System required. (LIDAR) Airframe Certification form, logging required. Written safety test, Level B Proficiency flight test. Commercial/Private Pilot Rating accepted in lieu of written test.

Class A – Heavy Class (State, Municipal, Federal Agency)

Over 30 lbs, FPV supervision, under 400 feet above terrain, above 400 feet with filed flight plan, Insurance. Tracking or visual observer required, no spectators within 25 feet. Fixed wing and multicopter UAV. FAA Review. Collision Avoidance System required. (LIDAR) Airframe Certification form, logging required. Written safety test, Level A Proficiency flight test. Commercial Pilot Rating accepted in lieu of written test.

Class O – Observer

Requires written Basic Safety test.

Proficiency Flight Test may be administered by designated certification instructor or licensed flight instructor.

Safety Test would be comprised of questions relating to 400 foot height limits, knowledge of 500 foot limits for manned aircraft, restrictions related to airports and heliports, spectator distance, VLOS requirement, observer requirement, minimum flight distance from utilities, highways, railroads and buildings, other rules.

Find Tim at Tim Trott Productions and Flying Eye Video.

The News:

U.S. Border Protection Agency Grounds Drone Fleet

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator B experienced mechanical failure and was unable to return to base. So the flight crew ditched the Predator in the Pacific Ocean and has grounded the fleet. The Predator B is flown by the CBP Office of Air and Marine.

Is whale watching with drones next big trend?

A California whale-watching organization used a quadcopter to create video of a whale at sea. This has created new questions about this type of UAV application. The Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to harass or alter the behavior of marine mammals. NOAA has whale-watching guidelines that suggest boaters keep 100 yards away from whales, and planes and helicopters stay 1000 feet above. What about a sUAS fifty feet above a whale?

FAA Stops Beer Drone Delivery

Lakemaid micro brewery was delivering 6 packs to ice fishermen via multi-copter, but the FAA said, “No!”

 

UAV019 General Atomics Sense and Avoid

General Atomics Predator B

This Episode:

A successful first sense and avoid flight, a Russian drone killer, UAS test site selection approaches, and a drone hunting proposal is going to the voters.

The News:

General Atomics tests UAV that can “sense and avoid” other aircraft

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. has had a successful first test flight in California of a prototype Sense and Avoid (SAA) system, using a Predator B. Developing SAA is key to allowing UAS in the U.S. airspace. Radar, transponder, and traffic alert systems all worked together for the first time to detect other aircraft. This is not an optical system. Instead, it integrates three systems:

  1. BAE Systems’ AD/DPX-7 Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder with Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver

  2. the General Atomics Due Regard Radar (DRR)

  3. Honeywell’s TPA-100 Traffic Collision Avoidance System or TCAS.

Russia upgrades Pantsir-S systems to create “UAV-killers”

With unmanned aircraft playing an increasing role in military operations, it was only a matter of time until we began to see UAV-specific countermeasures. The Russians are modifying their Pantsir-S (SA-22 Greyhound) gun-missile system to make it more effective at bringing down UAVs.

Freight-Drone Dream Has U.S. States Vying for Test Sites

Twenty-four States are vying to become UAS test sites where private researchers can study how unmanned aircraft can be integrated into the airspace. The FAA plans to announce the six sites before the end of 2013.

Colorado judge rules in favor of holding drone-hunting vote after legal fight

Remember Deer Trail, that Colorado town that is looking at a proposal to issue hunting permits for drones? A District Judge rejected a legal challenge and so now the town’s 370 voters will decide the matter April 1, 2014. The FAA maintains it’s position that shooting down aircraft is a criminal act.

An annual license would cost $25, and hunters would receive a $100 bounty for “identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government.”

 

UAV 004 Goosebusting by Hexacopter

Flamewheel 550

This Episode:

Using a hexacopter for wildlife management, airline pilots are concerned about UAVs, a copter goes into a crowd, wildfire fighting with a Predator, a sea-faring drone, building a ground station, and a Chinese attack UAV under development.

The News:

Canada plans to use hexacopter drones in war against geese

GOOSEBUSTER_600An Ottawa beach has been plagued by geese despite attempts to scare them off with trained dogs, loud noises, and other means. Along comes Steve Wambolt, the owner of Aerial Perspective, with a Flame Wheel 550 hexacopter and an idea, and he’s successfully used the craft to drive most of the geese away.

 

Pilot Group Expresses Concern Over Sharing the Sky With Drones

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representing over 59,000 airline pilots issued (in April 2011) a white paper, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Challenges for Safely Operating in the National Airspace System” which says, “The fundamental function of operating the aircraft in a safe manner must be maintained at the same level of safety regardless of the location of the pilot or the levels of automation.” Military UAS operations do not meet this criteria. 

When Drones fall from the Skies

At an event called the Great Bull Run at a racetrack in Virginia, a drone copter with a camera flying over the stands, suddenly veered downward and into the crowd. Five people suffered minor injuries. 

Predator UAV Provides Surveillance in Battle Against Yosemite Fire

The MQ-1 Predator is flown for 22 Hours in support of the RIM fire in Yosemite National Park. The 163rd Reconnaissance Wing of the California Air National Guard out of Victorville Southern California Logistics Airport used Infrared cameras to determine hot spots and contained areas, and provided real time images to people on the ground.

Transatlantic Drone Takes to the Sea

It’s not aerial, but it is a drone. It’s an unmanned robotic boat called the Scout designed by students in seven colleges to cross the Atlantic Ocean. You can follow the progress of the craft at the Scout Transatlantic website.

Tearing an old laptop apart to build a ground control station

Here, parts from an old broken laptop and some other components are assembled in a Pelican case as a ground station. The DIY community is very active in the unmanned vehicle arena. It’s a bit like the early days of the personal computer when the term “hacker” meant something positive that geeks aspired to.

China’s ‘Sharp Sword’ stealth UAV to make first flight one year later

China’s “Sharp Sword” attack unmanned aerial vehicle has been seen taxiing around and was captured on video. It looks a little like the X-47B. The report is that we will see a first flight in one year.