Aerial Photography Drone Fine

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by bobatkins, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. The largest civil penalty yet against an unmanned aircraft (drone) operator was announced Tuesday, when the FAA proposed a $1.9 million fine for SkyPan International, Inc., an aerial photography company based in Chicago.
  2. If I was a passenger on a commercial flight and one of these things on an unauthorised flight got sucked into the engines, I might well feel $1.9 million was not enough. Anyway, let's hope it never happens.
  3. I don't understand. What specifically did SkyPan do (65 times)? How high or where did they fly their unmanned aircraft? Aside from SkyPan's neglecting to fit a two-way radio, transponder and altitude-reporting equipment, is the main problem just that air traffic control clearance was not sought, or was there something inherently dangerous about the flights? (And what, by the way, would be the point of a two-way radio on an unmanned aircraft?!) And how did the FAA find out about SkyPan's activities anyway?

    Also, I have absolutely no legal background, but it seems that the FAA is just proposing a civil penalty of $1.9m. I guess the actual penalty (if any) will be decided by a court?
  4. "Back in USSR, Ve don't fine only rubles. Shoot down all UFOs. Shoulder missile practice for infantry. Fly over Kremlin and Vladivostok air control space, you learn fast is 'Nyet.' North Korea was and is same."

    Nastrovya. Message from former Premier Dmitri Kissoff :). ( Air traffic control is not what it used to be. Took them long enough to get on it. Safety and national security wise)
  5. They (SkyPan) were operating in very sensitive air space above NY and Chicago, very close to air traffic and airports. They didn't coordinate with ATC, and they were operating contrary the FAA's requirements that commercial operators have advance waivers, licensed pilot operators, certified aircraft, and many other restrictions that they don't place on recreational operators (about which we could go on for pages, but that's a different topic). Looks like the activity in question took place between 2012 and 2014. The company applied for a waiver in 2014, and I'll bet that the FAA desk jockey researching the applicant just spent a moment online and figured out that these guys had been expressly promoting the work they'd done over the prior two years ... which was not smart.

    If they'd been doing this outside of Class B air space, they probably would have received a sternly worded letter from the FAA, and that would be that. Don't screw around with these machines in controlled air space and well above the 400' ceiling. They're idiots, but the pain is all self-inflicted.
  6. Doing a quick look at their site.

    I didn't see any photos that looked like they were higher than 400
    feet. Nor any that look like they were taken where manned aircraft
    should be(like right beside buildings).

    They have a graphic stating they have an FAA Section 333 Exemption. What is that?

    The bugaboo looks like it's their selling of their photos. Commercial use. And that they didn't pay according fees and taxes to the FAA. Not a safety issue.

    Does the FAA charge plane or helicopter operators more if for commercial use, and nothing if for personal use?

    I wonder if Trey Ratcliff has paid all his FAA fees and taxes.
  7. I predict you will see an explosion of Drone specializing lawyers, in
    the next few years.

    Like the explosion of IP and trial(read sleazy corporate class action ambulance chasing) lawyers of the 80s and 90s.

    Skypan probably has one or more on staff now.
  8. "Sleazy corporate class action ambulance chasing...".Heavens we are getting a little cynical about the those who are anointed by Blackstone. I doubt it will grow to be that contentious. Lasers poking at pilots is handled as a safety issue. We will get a hold of this too. What about tourist and connect to airport choppers, wonder if they are in same airspace..(.maybe Trump complained about noise, do not laugh at the power set like Koch brothers of Fifth Ave.) But botttom line, photographer Matt like those who use their mini drones with responsibility and awareness of environments will not be a problem.

    I predict.
  9. They may be touting their 333 Exemption now (that's official permission from the FAA to operate a UAS under some very, very specific circumstances), but the point is that they're being fined for things they did between 2012 and 2014. You couldn't even GET a 333 back then.

    Yes, part of the issue is the commercial use. But the other problem was they were in Class B airspace. It's not about whether another more traditional aircraft is going to be operating right next to a building or under 400 feet ... it's that the FAA says absolutely no operations at all within 5 miles of any airport (just for starters). They don't care if you're 400' off the ground, or 4 inches.
  10. Maybe the FAA needs to relax those kinds of policies? I'm all for aviation safety, but I live about 3 miles from a major European airport, and if I was flying a drone at an altitude of, say, 50 feet, there's no way it would ever interfere in the slightest with aircraft operations. It's kind of crazy in fact to think at that distance it would have any impact. Aviation safety rules are constantly evolving - they used to be dead against any use of phones on aircraft for example, but that's not the case anymore - so maybe drone operation rules will be reviewed too.
  11. What's holy about 5 miles.

    My whole city is within 5 miles of either of 3 little airport, an airpark, or an airstrip. And on the other side, have 5 miles of
    nothing but grapevines and cornfields.

    One could send a drone over the bluffs at mendocino or ft bragg and be within 5 miles of an airport, and yet no where any
    plane should or would be flying. In most areas of California, one could be 50 miles from nothing, and there would be
    some little airport within 5 miles. There's a little airport within a few miles of South Lake Tahoe, making the whole south
    end of the lake off limits to aerial cameracopters.

    Seems arbitrary to the extreme.
  12. Who is Blackstone?
  13. Likely the main reason uthey have to employ strict restrictions around airports is because the operators sometimes lose control of the aircraft and after that it might fly itself to a position where it is no longer safe for the manned airplanes, or at least creates an unnecessary distraction. In fact sometimes you can read from newspapers that someone lost their RC aircraft inside a city and couldn't find it. Who is to guarantee it couldn't have dropped on top of someone's head and injured them? In my opinion they shouldn't allow their use in a city at all, and operators should have obligatory pilot training and certification, plus insurance.
    they used to be dead against any use of phones on aircraft for example, but that's not the case anymore
    That's because in the past, cell phones didn't have a mode in which all radio communications are turned off (flight mode), since almost all their functions were related to radio communications (calling and sending and receiving messages). Nowadays, (smart) phones can be used for a host of other stuff which doesn't require radio, so it is safe to use them in the appropriate mode.
  14. RFI is something still controlled by national agencies, correct? . I am referencing the cel phone embargo or control business on planes at least in the past. I figured that out when my mirrorless camera flash had only optical remotes built in. Company in Japan could not do a RF item that would satisfy all the national agencies that get into that sort of stuff. ( RF triggers aftermarket kind have to conform to where sold I assume)

    As to international rules on air traffic control specfiic to unmanned aircraft, I have no idea. Is there an international convention brewing I wonder.
  15. That's because in the past, cell phones didn't have a mode in which all radio communications are turned off (flight mode), since almost all their functions were related to radio communications (calling and sending and receiving messages). Nowadays, (smart) phones can be used for a host of other stuff which doesn't require radio, so it is safe to use them in the appropriate mode.
    I'm not talking about "flight mode". Some airlines allow you to use your mobile phone to make/receive calls in-flight. See here for example:
    I often wondered why it used to be unsafe to use a mobile phone on an aeroplane, and now all of sudden it's OK. Maybe I'm a cynic, but perhaps the safety regulations are unnecessarily limiting in places?
  16. A lot of smug finger pointing, at least it appears so.

    From the FAA:
    "What are the main requirements needed for me to operate an unmanned aircraft or drone for my business?

    A. You will need:

    a Section 333 grant of exemption,

    a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA),

    an aircraft registered with the FAA, and

    a pilot with an FAA airman certificate

    How many of you using aerial cameras, for any aspect of your photography business, have all those?
  17. Colin, the article mentions that portable electronic devices have caused instrument reading errors etc. "Other reports amount to crews reporting an anomaly experienced at the same time a passenger was witnessed using a mobile phone. A few reports state that interference to aircraft systems was observed to appear and disappear as that particular suspect device was turned on and off. One entry in the ASRS, designated ACN: 440557,[11] reports a clear link where a passenger's DVD player induced a 30-degree error in the display of the aircraft's heading, each time the player was switched on." Also, "...our research has found that these items can interrupt the normal operation of key cockpit instruments, especially Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, which are increasingly vital to safe landings." However, it may be that modern planes can be designed to avoid these problems. E.g. a system can be devised where the communication is between cell phones and the aircraft's picocell system, which further then communicates with the ground based cell phone network in such a way that the aircraft's vital systems are not affected.
    But personally I think that passengers are jammed in such a tight space that no one could have any peace and quiet if it were okay to use cell phones. Irrespective of safety issues, a lot of people traveling long distances want to rest during the flight in so far as it is possible.
  18. I'll be flying from Dublin to Boston next Saturday and I received an email yesterday from Aer Lingus advertising their inflight wi-fi. My point is just that safety regulations change with advances in technology. When airspace restriction rules were drawn up, they didn't have in mind the likes of today's common photography-oriented drones, which to me don't really seem much more dangerous than a remote-controlled toy helicopter on steroids, especially miles from an airport. It's one thing to be flying one of these things around the perimeter of an airport, but if someone wants to fly one in Central Park in Manhattan at 100 feet for example, I just wonder if $1.9m civil whatever-you-call-its are maybe bureaucracy gone a little mad?
  19. A fine to the company which they will no doubt write off under the tax code as business expense ,Colin ( guessing at that). Why? For evading a federal regulation based on the agency statutory responsibilty under law.. which was set up after an industry comment period before it became effective at the time. And also detailed scrutiny by a Congressional oversight committee of both parties. The same type of committee that would pounce all over the agency head if any small malfunction led to a near collision or even a flight delay. I do not know the details and no time to examine them. I assume that if it was a court or admin judge decision it will be appealed.. We all have gotten a little perturbed by the sensitivity about our air space. (And me I am sensitive about my knee and shoulder space..:)). Any private or commercial pilots in the community?

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