Drones may soon be required to be registered.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by keefer, Oct 17, 2015.

  1. So getting to fly your own drone and getting cool arial photos and video may be getting a little more complicated. Looks like the Federal Government is about to pass legislation to require those drones to be registered.
  2. I wonder if the regulation will include traditional RC planes, gliders, helicopters and jets.
  3. There is much discussion about this, of course, in the RC community. I hesitate to comment without some more concrete information, but it appears - based on several stories so far - that they're talking about requiring every RC machine (whether a multi-rotor "drone," a model helicopter, or a fixed-wing model made from balsa wood and glue) to carry an FAA tail number, and to require every operator (recreational hobbyist or otherwise) to get federal paperwork involved.

    This is going to be an interesting challenge, considering how many such devices are torn apart and rebuilt from parts on a continual basis. Obviously this will do absolutely nothing to stop people who don't care about the law from doing something dangerous. It will do absolutely nothing to stop willfully ignorant people from being ignorant. It will in no way physically control machines ... not that that really matters, as a thousand other daily activities are actually far more dangerous to the public, compared to people taking landscape photos with a 3-pound plastic quadcopter.

    We'll see. One thing this certainly won't be is a "law," since we're not talking about the legislature, here. We're talking about regulatory action from the executive branch. It looks like they're getting around the ACTUAL law (passed by congress, and ignored by the administration) that requires the FAA to get off its rear end and pass some sensible rules while leaving recreational users alone ... and this new maneuver is going to be handled by the Department of Transportation directly. They already have their own police, and a framework to use local law enforcement to act on behalf of the feds. Hopefully congress will step in, here, and remind the administration that the willful bypassing of an actual law isn't going to be ignored.
  4. From a discussion with a member of a local RC club I recently had, new drones could start to come with GPS no fly zones built into them. I did see this article. LINK. It wouldn't be hard to put airports and many other restricted zones into firmware.
    Will the FAA start doing drone aircraft accident investigations? Maybe.
    It is not the first time the government has enacted legislation to get a handle on technology. When Citizen Band radio came out people were required to get a CB License to use their CB radios. Of course that went away after there were millions of people using them, most who didn't bother with the requirement and the FCC did not have the resources to go after them all. We now have FRS radios (no license required), GMS (requires a license) and Marine Mobile Radio. Amateur Radio also requires operators to pass an FCC test to get a call sign. The Amateur Radio Service is very protective of their allotted frequencies, they do not want Amateur Radio to turn into another CB service and they are self policing with Official Observers who monitor the bands for good operating practice and transmission signal compliance. Amateur Radio has also become very involved with public service, local emergency management and strives to be a resource the government can call upon in times of national disaster.
    The local RC club here also encourages good operating practice of remote aircraft. Who knows if eventually there will different classifications for RC aircraft, from toy to amateur/hobby to commercial as the quad-copters/multi-copter are fairly new and the government is playing catch up. The word drone does have a military connotation to it.
    Is your kids Radio Shack toy helicopter really a drone? It may take a while until this all gets sorted out and common sense prevails.
  5. Hmmm... It will be interesting to see how the FAA works drones into the Air Traffic Control system. It's not a new process, integrating new technology into existing regulatory systems that didn't anticipate the future. I remember reading about the era when "horseless carriages" first appeared on our streets and scared the crap out of both horses and riders. There were some local ordinances that required that automobiles be preceded by a person on foot, carrying a lantern to alert unsuspecting citizens. We know how well that sorted out in time, right?
    Anyway, here's a lighter look at the subject:
  6. It's a start... Would like to see transponders (the technology is there) on board drones so they can be seen and identified via air traffic controllers.
  7. Mark: The largest seller of both commercial and smaller hobby multirotors, DJI, has been including "geofencing" (GPS-based flight location and altitude limitations) in their software for some time now. You're already prevented from flying near airports or in other no-fly zones. Of course, this drives commercial operators crazy when they have FAA (and local ATC) permission to do something like shoot some pre-arranged low-altitude aerials of something like a construction project at or right near an airport.

    And, accident investigations? There really haven't been any accidents that involve real aircraft. The FAA has investigated some reckless operators, but most of what people think about - say, some guy shooting video at a public event and crashing into a tree that causes his machine to fall and hit somebody - are just simple cases of reckless endangerment, no different than dropping something out a window onto somebody's head. It's local cops and existing laws that deal with that just fine.

    The vast majority of RC operators - especially the small business types - are just like the Amateur Radio people you mention. They're very cautious, courteous, thoughtful people who don't want the government to step in and make things harder for everybody.

    As for classifications: congress passed a law (the same one that the administration has essentially ignored) which required the FAA to make this stuff clear earlier this year. They had years to work on it, and have been completely dragging their feet. Their deadline has passed, and here we see the administration using the DoT to simply get around the law's requirements. One of those requirements was that new regs leave the recreational operators alone. But if the administration uses DoT instead of FAA to unilaterally trot out new rules, then the legislatively mandated distinctions between things like commercial and recreational use (regardless of the size of the machine) are moot, because that law was about the FAA's responsibility, and didn't contemplate the DoT muscling in.
    Is your kids Radio Shack toy helicopter really a drone?​
    According to the administration right now, yes, it is. More to the point, it's not about "drone," it's about unmanned aerial systems of any kind. So that includes the $30 toy helicopter, the $3,000,000 military device, and the 30-year-old, two-foot balsa wood and paper model of a Cessna. Yes, it will take time to sort out ... but congress gave the administration years to do it, and they've simply decided they didn't like the law, so they're ignoring it and doing what they'd prefer instead.
  8. Obviously this will do absolutely nothing to stop people who don't care about the law from doing something dangerous.​
    This is a specious argument. By this logic, we would have no laws at all because there are people that don't care about the law. Why have laws against murder? There are people who are going to murder anyway and the law against murder won't stop people who don't care about the law. It's a fallacious argument.
  9. This is a specious argument.​
    No, it's not. It's an observation of reality. Car registrations don't, for example, stop new teen drivers from being distracted, unskilled, or willing to take risks that aren't seen in more experienced drivers. A teen with his first multirotor is likewise not going to be any smarter because of the paperwork and the fee that's collected. The point is that feel-good, media-oriented regulations explicitly put in place to get around executive compliance with a very clear existing law will do nothing to prevent the sort of fantasy mayhem that we find people wringing their hands about. Unless you're talking about confiscation and prior restraint, such rules apply only to the people who respect them, as usual. This will have no impact on the malicious, delusional, or incurably stupid people who are always the problem.

    You're deliberately confusing behavior with objects. The law against murder is a law against an act, not against the car the murderer might use to run someone down, or the baseball bat one might use to beat them. We already HAVE federal laws in place that make interfering with aviation a serious federal felony. It doesn't matter if the person involved is using a hang-glider, model rockets, weather balloons, toy helicopters, grandpa's balsa RC model Cessna, or a kite. The law is already there, just like the ones against murder. Making little Johnny pay a fee so he can use his toy helicopter won't make him MORE liable for violating the space around an airport - that's already very, very illegal.
  10. You're deliberately confusing behavior with objects.​
    I don't think so. I think I'm recognizing that acts utilize objects and both are significant in terms of our regulatory policies.
    The law against murder is a law against an act, not against the car the murderer might use to run someone down​
    Vehicular homicide is a crime that, in general, involves the death of an individual other than the driver as a result of either criminally negligent or murderous operation of a vehicle. Statutes defining such crimes TIE the act with the object.
  11. >>> The vast majority of RC operators - especially the small business types - are just like the Amateur Radio people you mention. They're very cautious, courteous, thoughtful people who don't want the government to step in and make things harder for everybody.
    They're not "just like." Amateur Radio operators are licensed and have passed a difficult test establishing a wide breadth of technical proficiency as well as knowledge of FCC rules/regulations/penalties. It takes a lot of time. Ditto with commercial radio operators. Speaking from experience with both an advanced amateur radio license and a First Class commercial operator's license (expired).
    Since the FCC strictly regulates public air waves, I see no reason why the FAA should not do the same with public air space.
  12. Brad: I'm referring to their attitude and their interest in how everyone using that technology conducts themselves, in the interest in preserving the ability to use the technology themselves. It's the same sort of self-interest, and the people who are involved in the activity with that level of seriousness are very vocal about the behavior of people who don't play by the rules.
    I see no reason why the FAA should not do the same with public air space​
    It already does. That's the point. The FAA already has jurisdiction, and the current law is that the FAA was required - after years of public input and research - to put into place a commerce- and recreation-friendly framework to incorporate unmanned systems into the airspace, and to define under which circumstances doing so was not necessary. A feature of that law was the explicit exemption from ANY further federal involvement of recreational users. The administration has chosen to ignore that law, and the political appointee running the agency chose to blow off the legally required deadline for action.

    The administration (in an "executive action" to avoid compliance with a plainly written law) is skipping over the FAA's mandate and doing and end-around through the DoT. As if your kid's toy helicopter is a form of transportation in keeping with the DoT's charter. It would be funny if it weren't such a grand example of the administration's disregard for the separation of powers. This isn't just some hair-splitting, here. This is willful law-breaking - certainly in spirit, and likely in letter.

    Imagine that congress passed a law requiring the FCC to establish new standards for use of a particular piece of spectrum by this day in 2017 - and that the use of the spectrum had to provide for (I'm making this up) special near-field exemptions for IoT devices (or whatever). And that the people at the top of the FCC food chain simply decided that they didn't like congress's law because they opposed, philosophically, the notion of providing for IoT devices. And so they simply ignored the law, and didn't do what congress required them to do. And then the administration, in order to avoid having to comply with the IoT requirement, started allowing the Department Of The Interior to issue new rules about the use of antennas on US soil and structures. Or the Department Of Transportation to issue new RF rules because, you know, some radios are mounted on vehicles. See how this works?
  13. Matt, what you are not taking into account is that drone operators are not licensed and do not have to pass any kind of licensing test to demonstrate technical proficiency or awareness of FAA rules. Because of that, and their ease of use, the bar to the world of drone operation is essentially zero. At least with RC controlled planes there's a level of technical difficulty that dissuades the casual operator.
    My neighbor across the street who may not any common sense with respect to flying or consequences can have a system delivered to his house by tomorrow, flying within an hour or so, and attempt to photograph emergency LifeFlight and other helicopters, interfere with California's air tanker wildfire suppression operations, commercial airlines, and on and on. These events have happened often enough to cause alarm. Are we waiting for a drone to be sucked into an engine at a critical time before action is taken?
    Licensing raises the bar and is a good thing. Transponders would be next on my list.
  14. magically duplicated post removed!
  15. Matt, what you are not taking into account is that drone operators are not licensed and do not have to pass any kind of licensing test to demonstrate technical proficiency or awareness of FAA rules.​
    Yes, exactly as the recently passed law requires. People who want to learn and recreationally enjoy the technology are protected by law from any further FAA UAS rule making. That's what makes this craven maneuver through the DoT so reprehensible. The law's recreational exemption does NOT exempt hobbyists from complying with the laws that everyone already has to follow with respect to controlled airspace regardless of what they're putting in the air ... a multirotor, a fixed-wing RC plane (which a total noob very much CAN get in the air in under an hour), an ultralight, etc.

    Those noobs are required to stay under 400' just like everyone else. They don't need transponders any more than hang-gliders do. Do you really think that someone operating a 3-pound quadcopter five feet above someone's second-story chimney for a look at the masonry needs a transponder to alert traffic at 1000+ feet? Or a flight plan? Really?
  16. I don't know if Airsoft regulations have been effective or remains controversial in the U.S.; its misuse can be as dangerous as RC things but I haven't heard much about it.
  17. I am frankly confused. I thought the FAA comes under the DOT. If the FAA or the head of DOT has not complied with rule making required by an act of Congress, I would expect the agency to be up before a committee in response to the community of recreational users. I admit I do not know what proposals have been floated to deal with the apparent increase in these craft and the potential for mishaps.

    Sounds like analogous in a small way to when CB operators were coming in on my home wiring hi fi some years ago. RFI and I tried but could not insulate against it by myself. Minor complaint, but somehow the spectrum issue got resolved. Or the receivers got shielded. Something changed anyway.. Pretty sure it was by regulation. not just by transmitter operator altruism. Whatever comes out I got a feeling some committee will be on top of it. If they have time.
  18. Yes, Gerry, the FAA is sub-piece of the DoT. But the legislation that required the FAA to do their job by August past of this year was - as most bills are - very specific. It tasked that agency with the job. The fact that they didn't actually do that is a subject of much consternation in congress, but as you can imagine, it could take years of hearings and inter-branch suits before the courts could find the FAA at fault for failing follow the law, and then ... what? They'd be forced to eventually do what the law required? That would take forever, in court. The current administration and the agency's appointed director (Huerta) will be long gone by the time that comes around.

    In the meantime, it looks like the administration is coming at it with their own spin from outside the bounds of the law that congress passed. They can deploy the DoT's existing regulatory machinery and argue that a 3-pound plastic model is the same as a bass boat or a moped. Hopefully congress will rightfully grouse about the separation of powers issue, but you know how such things would drag out.
  19. Both the FAA and the DOT are part of the executive branch of government, (FAA is part of DOT) so there is no separation of powers issue. The legislative branch, Congress, passed a statute that instructed the FAA to promulgate rules for the use of RC aircraft/drones and like many government agencies do all over the country, the FAA has apparently missed the deadline. I suspect that whatever the DOT proper does will just be an interim or stopgap solution until the FAA gets around to acting and implementing the new rules. Or the DOT could release rules under the auspices of the FAA and we would not know who wrote the rules. (Although the rulemaking process normally includes public hearings and comment periods for proposed rules. Maybe that is what the announcement Monday will cover.) I suspect the proposed rules will try to accomplish two things--establish clear limits and guidelines on where and when and how these things can be flown, so as not to interfere with manned aircraft and objects and living things on the ground. And secondarily, a registration system so that the people who break the rules can be tracked down and dealt with. The FAA is pretty strict regulating pilots and manned flight and typically does not tolerate rulebreakers very well.
  20. Limiting drones around airports and having height restrictions seem reasonable. But typically, government over-regulates so expect heavy-handed rules that will become draconian.
  21. Bob: the separation of powers issue comes from the legislative branch passing a law that says one thing, and the executive branch deliberately, purposefully blowing it off and doing something else. Asserting that the executive branch operates above the law. It's isn't just about the missed deadline, it's about the law's explicit instructions to the FAA to leave their hands off of recreational users. The administration doesn't feel like complying with that law, so they're ignoring it and doing what they think is politically expedient instead.

    As for establishing the clear limits? It's already been done (stay under 400', don't operate within 5 miles of an airport without making prior arrangements with ATC, etc, and people have already been fined for ignoring those rules). There's no need for redundant rules to tell people with RC aircraft they're not allowed to operate over an airport ... NOBODY gets to do that (with their hot air balloons, ultralights, model rockets, or anything else). It's been that way forever.

    And yes, Alan, those do seem like reasonable restrictions. Which is why they're already in place. Getting some kid to spend his allowance to register his remote control toy with the federal government will have no impact on the guy who wants to post witless anonymous daredevil drone flying videos on YouTube, to say nothing of somebody who actually wants to cause harm. There isn't a single form of trouble those people can cause that isn't already prosecutable under existing, very serious laws. And the largest manufacturers (by FAR) of these devices already serialize them and collect connected names and online IDs from users (there's no updating firmware, and in many cases no getting them to fly at all without doing so). The number of people who are willing and able to build these devices from low-level parts are going to grow rapidly - these are the people who recognize how silly it is to register a flying machine that, next week, will have been completely dismantled and turned into something else, and will again every week thereafter.

    The reason we haven't seen prosecutions for serious accidents involving these devices isn't for lack of yet more regulatory mechanisms in place, it's because despite literally millions of people people operating them across hundreds of millions of hours in the air, there haven't been any accidents of the type everyone's media-fueled-panicking about. Anywhere. In the entire world. A recent review of the FAA's blithely casual report on the reported number of "near misses" in controlled air space essentially completely debunked it, at least in terms of how it's been breathless regurgitated in the media.
  22. You guys are reacting to the details of a set of documents that haven't been made available yet. If the regulations require registration of recreational use drones that are capable of being operated without line of sight, that's entirely within the FAA's instructions under the statute, which only exempts noncommercial use in line of sight of the operator. That's also the sort of detail that always gets left out of news reports, which are written by people who are not experts in either the subject matter or the law.
  23. As expected, the announcement was eye-rollingly opaque, and the officials working on their new program couldn't answer a raft of very simple questions from the attending press. It looks, though, like it will target recreational users of not just so-called "drones" but anything that "flies in the air space" - so, indeed, hobbyists with a garage full of hand-built models will have to retro-actively pay fees and register their models or face targeting from the DoT, who said they would indeed be targeting people who don't comply. Long-time hobbyists, many of whom have dozens of models they've been flying for 60 years, aren't going to be thrilled about their new relationship with the DoT police.

    Despite the lack of details, or of any recourse through the federal rule-making process, they expect to have this in place very shortly. Asked how, they said they would be treating it like an emergency. Which is odd, since people have been flying things like this in the air space for decades, and we've had no accidents involving other aircraft. Emergency? Where was their sense of urgency in mustering that sort of hustle to meet their legally mandated August deadline? Right - they didn't like the law, so that isn't urgent. In fact, they're just going to pretend it doesn't exist.
  24. Actually it looks like the rules have not yet been adopted and they're working on it with input from industry etc.

    This is what happens when you read alarmist reports on events that haven't actually happened yet.
  25. This reminds me of the FCC license I paid for my hand-held walkie talkies I used while hiking. I think it was for 8 years. It's lapsed but I haven't re-filed. Most people just bought these thigns and used them and never got a license because it was just stupid and unenforceable. So we'll have another law on the books that won't be enforced. The government will hire all these enforcers who will retired from the government with a good pension. Hey, that's good for them.
  26. Not basing my thoughts on "alarmist reports," Andy. Basing it on what was actually said by the officials at the announcement. They explicitly mentioned hobbyists, and retro-active registration, and targeting those who don't comply.
  27. And a committee is being formed to write the rules on which drones must be registered, which implies that not all drones
    must be registered. Given that the statute already exempt hobby and recreational use at low altitudes with line of sight,
    and that it's already been explained that registration is part of the overall enforcement program, all this talk of separation
    of powers violations and "your kid's toy helicopter" is clearly premature.
  28. Thank.
  29. Andy: they came right out and said that such distinctions may be based on size or weight. But not on user. Contrary the continuing-to-be-ignored law, the DoT (not the FAA) is talking about policing and targeting (their choice of word, not mine) all RC users, including recreational/hobbyists. The task force is looking to split hairs over whether or not the no-GPS-involved $15 mall kiosk toy is "a drone," but they are resolved on the question of whether the new regulation and its supporting bureaucracy will include, contrary to the law, non-commercial users. They've said that it will.
  30. The FAA is the part of the DoT that regulates aviation. The Secretary of Transportation was in charge of the announcement because he has authority over the FAA. The FAA Administrator also spoke at the announcement today, at which the agency announced that a task force is being formed, and one of its responsibilities will be to decide which drones and owners will be exempt from registration. This clearly and unambiguously means that, contrary to alarmist pre-announcement web articles by people who were not fully informed, the new regulations will exempt some drones and owners, which Congress directed in the statute.
    I don't get why this is controversial. How is forming a panel to come up with the protocol for deciding whether a drone is going to be regulated the same thing as ignoring the statute? This is how regulatory agencies work. Congress passes a statute, which is actually an instruction to a regulating authority because the legislature does not have the ability to implement. The regulating authority follows some process or other to make the regulations that it uses to implement the statute. Usually this involves some filling in of details. The regulations are also "laws," just like statutes and court decisions.
    For example: Congress says regulate drones but don't apply this to recreational usage and gives some guidelines about what that means. DoT/FAA decides that to implement regulations on drones it will need to register the drones. They won't have to register the drones that won't be regulated because they are strictly recreational, but they'll need a process to decide which drones those are.
    This is perfectly reasonable. You just object, reflexively, to anything that interferes with drone use, but that's not a reasonable position.
  31. When it comes to transponders and gps systems that would restrict flying in designated areas how could they be enforced. Unless these
    functions are highly integrated or deeply embedded in the RC hardware and software there will probably be a large segment who would
    disable or remove them from their equipment just on general principle alone. The FAA can write all the regulations they want but at what
    point are they going to enforce them or are they able to depending on how much of their resources they are going to expend on it. I can
    not see them driving around looking for rather benign balsa wood and glue artifacts and seizing them.

    Some people have drawn analogies to CB radios. There were all these urban legends where everyone knew somebody who had a fleet
    of directional radio finder vehicles pull up in front of their homes and were invaded by FCC agents who seized all the equipment and
    imposed all kinds of huge fines and punitive actions.
  32. The FCC is too busy enforcing the border. (that was a joke). What is a drone? Isn't that some kind of bee? Does this mean I can't fly my Carl Goldberg Eaglet in the soybean field after they combined it? Or do I have to pray to the God of Liberalism and hope I don't get arrested as a terrorist? After all, I might chase a buzzard with it.
    Drone. Yeah, whatever.
  33. Pretty soon the FAA will ask to certify an airworthiness certificate for all registered non piloted RC drones over a certain power and size. And then they will have to decide on fuel and communications. Do they then have different visual and instrument ratings. One never knows when an agency gets its hands into a new pot. Trouble is that they never got over the rise and fall of the DC10 affair. Remember the cargo doors? The crashing deck floors and gutted cables and wires.. Long memories has the bureaucracy when bad stuff happens to good people.

    This will be n interesting case of wait and see and how the RC industry lobbies. So far our exurban neighborhood has had only military helo flyovers in bad weather when they have to miss the quiet flt path, and even then they get a ration of calls, To the poor Wheeler Amy base PIO.
  34. I feel like this is part of our social change that's coming about from more people moving to cities. It's seems similar to attitude changes towards amateur radio, firearms use and off-road transportation. In my state over 80% of our land is rural or semi-rural. If you crashed your drone or fired your shotgun or wrecked your four wheeler two counties away, no one would care. In town, you might make the news.
    We see a lot of political discussions about things like this where geography, having space, is an important part of mitigating risk. Yet, we don't often talk about it. It is as though everyone lives in suburbia or "The City." Meanwhile these same activities could take place over the surface of most of our land and no one would care.
    If you crashed your drone in the country, you might have trouble finding it. If you flew your drone in the city, you might need to find a lawyer. If you crashed your drone in the city, you might need an ad agency to help you with public relations during the televised lawsuit.
    Too bad we're not smart enough, as a group, to use a map when considering public policies. Maybe we'll get there. If we could bring ourselves to use population densities as a common part of safety discussions, then a lot of this stuff would get sorted out with less yelling.
  35. I think I will weigh in. Quite sometime ago I worked in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation. After that I
    joined the FAA and wound up the Integrated Product Team Leader for GPS and Navigation research, development
    and acquisition. The office of the Secretary to my knowledge does not possess the technical expertise nor the
    budget to take on major programs. The FAA budget is done by line item by program and that is where the contract
    money is appropriated. It is my guess that the Secretary wanted some visibility (he is a polictical appointee) so he
    announced the program. He is supported by the FAA and when i was responible for the GPS R&D budget no matter
    who announced what about GPS they had to come to my organization for R&D because we received the
    appropriation by line item for specific programs. So you can bet the FAA is de facto supporting the Secretary. UAV
    regulation is a tough thing to manage for anyone. As Matt rightfully said one has not yet bashed an airplane, and I
    would say "yet". The threat is amorphous and ill defined. The big question is where do you place resources when
    you have such an ill defined threat I am also an experienced pilot. So I view the threat from a bureucratic view and
    also from a pilots view. I flew in Viet Nam and I know what worried me there. A drone weighing a pound or less
    does not worry me much but a forty pound drone could do some real damage. So classification of these aircraft by
    weight and actual capability to do harm would seem appropriate and makes good sense. Doing this could exempt a
    great many drones. The larger drones probably should be registered perhaps. We ran into a problem in assessing
    airline aviation hazards because there are so few airline accidents these it is hard to define trends. Yet, these
    accidents still happen. We have no real trends with drones. It seems to me that the bigger and more expensive they
    get the more responsibly they are operated motivated by investment protection if nothing else. There is also a
    strong political factor that I don't have explain in all of this. What I hope is happening is what happened long ago in
    aviation and that is aviation manufacturers, airlines and the FAA working together. RTCA a non-FAA organization
    that develops consensus standards for equipment certification, design and manufacter based upon FAA and industry
    input. If I were in the FAA today I would certainly not want the drone job because "if you don't know where you are
    going any road will get you there" Matt I understand your concerns because bureaucracies sometimes react badly
    and for the wrong reasons. I just hope whover does this upcoming regulation uses some common sense.
  36. FUD abounds. Yet there is not small amount of precedence suggesting "drone" fans shouldn't be worried about the government wading into this arena. For example, in California, there are registration fees and a vehicle license fee (tax) and since California is one the states with the highest sales and gas taxes and personal income taxes, it's become important for some politicians to suggest that increasing the license tax is a good way to raise even more money. Politically, cars are "bad." So we might expect the idea that registration will bring with it fees, more fees, and then some. Also discussions I've seen suggest that either the rumors are, uh, interesting, or that some involved in the rules process are unfamiliar with some of the practical issues. Like one story I saw suggested "they" wanted the rules in place before the holiday shopping season yet others that small toy or hobbiest "drones" aren't the target of the effort.
    Others have suggested "tail numbers?" That reeks of practicality. Not that having some way of tracking by number might not be worthwhile in some ways but that presupposes that enough of the craft will be recovered to track the number and that somehow the numbers are permanent enough to not be obliterated physically or electronically without some effort. That will lead back to the casual user/abuser but isn't necessarily helpful at all when someone wants to intentionally bypass the "system."
    Historically, in 1960 the rules changed for placing numbers on civil aircraft. They were no longer required on wing surfaces. A relative in law enforcement commented at one point that the change impacted the ability to deal with low flying aircraft. It had been kind of possible to read wing numbers. After the change, they were only required on vertical surfaces. So if someone was buzzing a "friend" or whatever, the change made it very difficult for a ground observer to read the numbers. That suggests to me that external numbering except on the largest craft is not going to of practical importance in controlling abusive flying. But, dang, it sure sounds good.
  37. The proposal in the EU is that drones are to be given a chip (ic) that holds its ID. The drone's ID and its owner will be recorded in a register.<br>That requires that the drone, or at least the chip in it, is recovered before it can be determined who the owner is. But it's better than nothing.<br>The chip could also be of the RFID sort, making it easier to find and read. Maybe an even more powerful transponder would be possible, so determining the ID could be done at distance.
  38. Why is it better than nothing? It seems like a waste of money, time and resources to set up a whole government division to keep and store all these chips. And then all the stores that sell these drones have to keep records and forward them to the government, another huge cost and waste of time. And if the drone buzzes a place it doesn't belong, the chip is of no value unless in an unlikely event the drone crashes. Only then could you recover the chip. It seems that doing nothing is better.
    The FAA should go slow. Make reasonable rules like no flying near airports and above certain heights without pre-approval. Let's see what happens. Just how dangerous are these things? If it turns out they are more dangerous, so then tighten the rules. But I think the news outlets are ratcheting up the supposed danger because that kind of news sells.
  39. >>> The FAA should go slow. Make reasonable rules like no flying near airports and above certain heights without pre-approval. Let's see what happens.
    The FAA has had reasonable rules. But they're not working. Since August pilots have reported 650 close calls with aircraft (including drones coming within 100 feet of commercial airlines during landing at JFK), that number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of the year. Drones have interfered with LifeLine medical evacuation helicopters a number of times. Drones have interfered with and suspended air tanker fire retardant delivery operations multiple times when battling massive wildfires in California.
    "Let's see what happens" was given a chance and is not enough. The Air Line Pilots Association has called on the FAA for stronger measures, including collision avoidance technology on drones, and for air traffic controllers to be able to identify drones on radar - presumably via transponders.
  40. Brad: Those "close call" stats have been solidly debunked. Further, many of the legitimate sitings were of government operated UAVs, not anything that commercial or hobby fliers were operating. Those were larger UAVs that were carrying transponders and of course that had no impact on the fact that they were in the wrong place or not coordinating properly with ATC.

    The ALPA's suggestions are driven almost entirely by the awareness that given time, UAS technology is going to put a lot of their paying members out of work.
  41. Collision avoidance transponders on hobby drones?
    They don't even have them on most private airplanes I
    believe. What do these things cost and how heavy are

    As an aside, how does the limit on drones work that
    prevent going higher than let's say 500 feet since the
    landing will be at different elevations depending where
    you start from. For example, Denver is already 5,000
    feet high.
  42. >>> Brad: Those "close call" stats have been solidly debunked.
    All of them? How many? Has the FAA amended their report with your information and released it to the public?
    >>> The ALPA's suggestions are driven almost entirely by the awareness that given time, UAS technology is going to put a lot of their paying members out of work.
    Is what you're saying is that the Air Line Pilots Association's position is not motivated by concern for the safety of their passengers and aircraft, but rather an agenda relating to long-term job retention?
  43. Maybe ALPA is concerned with both.
  44. What I said above is that the nature of the threat has to be defined before you can act against it. I agree with the
    ALPA concern as I would be concerned were if I were still flying today. I think Brad has legitmate concerns but so far there is
    not enough empirical statistical evidence to determine where enforcement, registration and drone equipage should be
    directed. This is very new to the aviation and airspace milieau. It's like firing a shotgun at a flock of birds hoping to hit
    one. My father taught me to pick a single target if I hoped to hit a duck. It's the same here. Just where should DOT or the
    FAA put their emphasis. With forty-five years working in aviation or flying airplanes or being an aviation bureaucrat
    managing programs I would not like to manage this one inside the FAA. There is a limited budget for all of these
    things and there are not enough Congresionally appropriated program funds to cover every thing that is needed. The
    legislators are also the first ones to excoriate bureaucrats when things go wrong. This is one duck who has had his tail feathers singed. So we have to find the right duck in the flock to aim at. That is still being determined. I started flying in 1954 and I know that there is a lot of blood behind the historic development of aviation regulation. An old quote "It takes an unusual amount ot tension to create significant progress" The first blood will probably create that tension. We'll see. It is one thing to pass a law and totally another to appropriate enough money in a specific budget line item to fund it and to authorize the additional hires to enforce it.
  45. Brad,I came within about ten feet of a C-130 over the Ho Chi Minh trail, All I could see was the Landing gear pod as I
    went by it. I will guarantee you that I was not worried about my long term future. I was worried about the next fifteen
    seconds of my life as I dove under him. The big problem in Class B airspace is that you fly instrument approaches where you cannot see in front of you in cloud and there is no way of knowing that a drone may be in your flight path when you break out of the overcast with little latitude to take evasive action close to the ground. That is unless drone operation around airports is monitored and strictly controlled. The FAA has made rules but such things are legitimately worrisome to pilots. Ask Sullinger what a 10 pound goose can do.
  46. I would suggest, Dick, that the mass and density of a Canadian goose is actually a much bigger risk than a 3-pound frangible plastic toy copter or even one of the larger 10-pound carbon fiber flavor machines. And of course Captain Sullenberger went right through a flock and ingested multiple birds into BOTH engines, which is why he lost all power and had to ditch.

    Quite the encounter with that C-130 - yowza!

    You're right that the nature and reality of the threat needs to be understood. Right now, all we have are simple statistics - many dead every year in general aviation accidents (almost all a result of human error), but so far - despite millions of air-hours on drones, including some idiots around airports - zero collisions and of course zero injuries (let alone death). People are far, far more likely to die in their own car on the way to the airport than they are in any sort of air accident, and so far not a single person has been hurt in any kind of event involving an RC machine in the air. Keeping in mind that people have been flying them for decades - including many clubs that actually have their operations right near airports.

    So far, the most notable sitings of "drones" by general aviation pilots have been their encounters with government-operated drones - the kinds that are actually big enough to see at a distance. The military has very tight coordination with air traffic control, has transponders on every one of those birds, and they are operated by highly skilled pilots with a career at stake ... and they have managed to get under foot as much BECAUSE they are permitted to operate in those areas, just like GA pilots have close encounters with other manned aircraft operated by confuse, mistaken, or misdirected pilots all the time.

    Point being, throwing a bunch of registration-oriented paperwork at hobbyists - who in their vast numbers have no interest in causing trouble or operating in controlled air space, and the vast majority of whom are already operating machines that have built-in GPS-based geofencing and no-fly-zone awareness - simply isn't going to remove the risk of a malicious operator. So far, most of the malicious operators have been more inclined to try to smuggle contraband into prisons - something people have been trying to use technology to do for as long as there have been prisons!
  47. That sounds like the kind of problem that registration would help to reduce.
  48. Which problem is that, Andy? All of the general aviation deaths that have occurred this year (another several just last week) all involved "registered" machines operated by trained and certified pilots. We can't compare that to a count of injuries or deaths involving general aviation accidents tangled up RC models, because there weren't any this year. Or ever, as there have never been any, ever. But hundreds and hundreds of people have died in "registered" aircraft just this year. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the problem you're saying that registration will reduce. We can't reduce something that hasn't ever happened.
  49. I agree that a ten pound goose has denser substance than most drones. I have handled several different drones
    and they are quite light and fragile and maybe frangible in conflict with compressor blades on a large jet engine.
    What we ought to do is what we did with chickens when jet engines came out and throw a bunch of them into jet
    engines on test stands and see what happens. This may help to define the problem. I bet we could determine a
    mass and substance that is frangible and exempt drones with those characteristics. Although that presupposes that
    we make ingestion of drones by jet engines acceptable. I think some of those chickens became frangible and the
    engines kept running. Temperatures around turbine blades get up over 1800 f. They certainly got cooked on the
    way out. That also would provide information for drone construction. You can't get much data solely waiting for
    accidents to provide it. Trying to register a million drones without developing a massive registry is not practical IMO. We have to exempt a lot of them by evaluating potential hazards, size, mass, operating areas with actual risk analysis.
    Enforcement will be a nightmare. This large fine levied by the FAA is a great deterrent. The FAA has never had enough inspectors to do their job of monitoring the aviation industry. It relies on designees in industry for significant supplementation. However designees with Matt's qualifications and interest could be a great help. Airline maintenance inspections are largely records of inspections
    based upon industry compliance as shown in the records. Almost anything suggested for drones requires significant
    regulatory budget and personnel. That is why I think important we avoid a shotgun approach to tame this ever
    growing beast and target our approaches. BTW I am just thinking out loud. Lastly, built in electronic limitations are
    gaining acceptance. IMO it is the way to go. UAV proximity sensors should be high priority. It is the electronic
    version of the old "see and be seen and avoid".
  50. I'm curious about the way drones are operated now around people's property. For example, real estate agents use these things to get stills and videos for home sale listings. When they fly these things, how can they do that without getting over other people's property especially in urban and surburban areas? Do they get permission from the neighbors? Do they just alert them or do they just fly the drones without notification?
    If I had a drone and was flying it for fun, I might notify my neighbor just so they know what's going on. I can't imagine that's going to be a big deal. Neighbors are going to know you have one of these things after the first time you fly it. And when you fly it with your grandkids when they come over, the neighbors will probably just ignore it knowing it's you. I think these things are just going to work themselves out and it;s just the papers that are making a big case out of it. (Other than in airport areas).
    Regarding the lawsuit at hand, there was no mention of the size of the guy's property. If he lived on a 50 acre farm, then the use of a shotgun would be looked at differently than if the guy was shooting with neighbor's homes twenty feet away. What was the situation the judge decided in?
  51. Alan: In practice, I've yet to ever encounter a neighbor (of mine, or of anyone else's where I was operating) that cared in the least. Quite the opposite. Everyone who sees things in operation wants to come over and talk about it. If I'm in the air at the time, they all get kind of mesmerized by seeing the ground-side video display with the flight telemetry. They quickly realize that their entire house is occupying an inch or two of the display on an iPad, and realize that nobody is looking in their windows, or even could without flying down low and so close to their house that it would be impossible to confuse the action for being anything other than deliberate. That much becomes so immediately clear to everyone who actually sees this stuff in person that most of the reflexive push-back and concern just basically melts away.

    Most neighbors don't let me leave the scene without asking if I'll take some shots of their rooftops for them, and check out their gutters while I'm up there. Why not? I do it for goodwill and and every time I'm asked, provided it seems safe. Too many trees sometimes, or parents who don't understand why I'd like them to take their kids inside from the back yard for a minute while I get shots of their shingles or their chimney top.

    But truly, as you have guessed, these things just work themselves out. A lot of internet tough-guy-ism melts away when people actually see, up close and personal, and understand the technology with both its utility and its limits. It's clear to me that usually people come to the topic having seen either wildly silly fictional portrayals from bad TV shows, or they're just disposed to the same sort of hostility that many street photographers normally encounter. Once they understand that they're likely to get a better neighbor if the real estate agent can attract better buyers by including better imagery in their listings, the technology starts to lose its media-fueled comic book villain atmospherics.
  52. As a follow-up to those who still care about this: people inside the task force are mentioning that the DoT-orchestrated panel will be recommending that, indeed, even small fixed-wing toys that weigh only 9 ounces will have to be registered with the federal government. It's not about multi-rotors (drones), not about cameras, not about payload capacity, and not even about whether little Jonny's new 9-ounce (!) holiday toy plane has a range of more than 50 feet or must be used indoors because it can't operate in a breeze - nope, time to get on a federal database that will be open to FOIA requests and fishing expeditions. Needless to say, a whole lot of hobbyists with a basement full of small model airplanes (source of power is not relevant - tiny gas engines, batteries, rubber bands, etc) are none to pleased - they'll all going to have to register each toy, and if they take one apart and use some of the parts to build another one, they'll have to re-register it.
  53. Matt, when the question is whether state trespass law can prevent drones flying over private property you say no, because all flying things are under plenary federal authority and federal law cloaks all flying things in magical protection that nothing else may penetrate. But when the question is whether that same federal government may actually regulate those flying things, you cry foul - apparently the magical anti-regulation barrier created by federal regulation also serves to keep out that same regulation!
    Either a recreational drone is a flying machine subject to the same rules as any other - the FAA rules and federal air regulations, which where appropriate have some effects that override common law air rights - or they are not, and not being part of the federal regulatory scheme the states may make rules restricting their use and apply normal trespass law when they violate private airspace. Which is it? There's no option where the things are subject to no law at all. You seem to think that's the case, but it's not.
    Also, I can't believe that your information is correct. Rubber band powered toys? Like those balsa wood things? The federal government is not going to try to put those in a database. Or those line of sight helicopters with 5 minutes of battery that they sell at Sharper Image. These reports are alarmist.
  54. Matt, when the question is whether state trespass law can prevent drones flying over private property you say no​
    Of course I do. Because the word "over" is meaningless. Flying around your property at tree/rooftop height isn't the same as traversing at a higher altitude. So I refuse to take the bait when the question is deliberately imprecise and without any specifics or context.
    But when the question is whether that same federal government may actually regulate those flying things, you cry foul​
    I'm crying foul over the meaninglessness of setting up a brand new hunk of federal bureaucracy to individually track 9-ounce toys and their owners, considering the complete lack of any examples, whatsoever, of any problems ever arising from the use of such things after DECADES of them in the air.
    I can't believe that your information is correct. Rubber band powered toys? Like those balsa wood things?​
    If they weight nine ounces, yes. In fact, they don't have to have any power at all, not even a rubber band. The new registration being proposed would also apply to completely un-powered toy RC sailplanes, if they are over the 9-ounce threshold. Why do you have trouble believing that? The spokesman for the DoT said we should think of them as looking to register anything that flies in any form. The entire proposition isn't going to have a single impact on safety, and isn't meant to. The panel's participants admit that there's no plan for how they will deal with the fact that a person who actually means harm could simply provide fake information in their registration (or better yet, the name and address of another person that they know to own and operate similar equipment).

    This is a completely non-serious exercise meant entirely to provide soundbite-friendly statements from the administration to appease those riled by the fear mongers who insist that all of the non-events we've not been seeing are a clear sign of the need for emergency action in order to reduce the rate of events from the current ZERO down to ... zero? They're not very clear on that part.

    Meanwhile, more people die falling on stairs every year than they do in, say, murders using guns (to say nothing of accidents involving RC toys and camera drones ... just checked ... yup! still at zero!). I'm betting that some of those killer stair wells don't have federally approved railings. Won't somebody think of the stair victims? Aren't stairs at least as much a form of transportation as a 9-ounce toy model, and thus certainly something the DoT should consider?

    Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it ... except apparently unsafe stairwells actually hurt people, while RC birds, despite millions in use, are wildly safer. It's that sort of silliness (despite the thousands of recurring actual human deaths, obviously) that point out how absurd this sort of thing really is. The hand-wringing in this is area completely misguided, if actual injuries and deaths are what people are worried about. Especially considering how small a number ZERO is, compared to the thousands of deaths every month in, say, poorly executed medical treatments.
  55. Matt, when the question is whether state trespass law can prevent drones flying over private property you say no
    Of course I do. Because the word "over" is meaningless. Flying around your property at tree/rooftop height isn't the same as traversing at a higher altitude. So I refuse to take the bait when the question is deliberately imprecise and without any specifics or context.​
    You wrote: "As courts have reinforced, your reasonable expectation of control ends right about where you've stopped building objects (like your windmill, your roof, etc)." That was right before you misapplied the ruling in United States v Causby (1946), which the property owner won, by saying "unless you've got a 100' HAM antenna tower on your property, or a very tall wind turbine, etc., somebody flying an ultralight or a model airplane over at 100' isn't in "your" air space". My comment was referring to your apparent argument that anybody is free to fly a drone above property at any level that is higher than the tallest building on your property - a proposition for which there is no legal support.

    If I misunderstood you, and you would agree with me and Justice Douglas that a property owner's rights extend to the level that the federal government has specified as the minimal safe elevation for air traffic (the level at which the air space is a "public highway") - and I don't know where that currently is off the top of my head but probably somewhere between 300 and 500 feet - so that flying machines below that level are trespassing and ones above it are not - then I agree with you and apologize for mischaracterizing your earlier comments.

    Since you don't have a citation for the comment on the FAA news, I don't know how complete your information is. But I think the answer is "not very". I don't have a paid WSJ subscription so I can't read their article, which appears to be the original source, but a Fortune article on it says:
    The WSJ reports that three unnamed people “familiar with the matter” have told them that the recommendation on the table will be for consumers to register any flying drone 9 ounces and up with the FAA for use.​
    That's not much to go on, but it doesn't take much to get the Internet to freak out these days. But you read a bit further and it turns out that maybe this is all not going to be much of a burden on the common recreational user after all. For example, here's one attorney on the record in a Fortune article who seems to think that the question of whether these rules will apply to recreational users is unanswered:
    Guy Haggard a board-certified aviation attorney with GrayRobinson, Orlando, Fla., said registration is “overkill for small drones that are really just toys.”
    “The FAA requires registration of all aircraft already and drones are considered aircraft, but model aircraft used for hobby purposes are exempt from regulation by the FAA by law. So the upcoming registration rules I would speculate should provide exemptions. But we will see,” Haggard said via email.
    Since it appears that the registration is only a recommendation and not mandatory, it’s unclear what penalty, if any, there would be for consumers who fail to apply.​

    So we have registration, which is not particularly drastic anyway - so who cares - and it's optional, and it might not apply to recreational users anyway, because that's in the statute and statutes are a higher authority than regulations. You can read the statute here. Section 336 is the recreational exemption for model aircraft. It exempts unmanned aircraft under 55 pounds, used safely for recreational purposes and within line of sight of the operator, so long as they're not being used within 5 miles of an airport without prior arrangements.
    Meanwhile, more people die falling on stairs every year than they do in, say, murders using guns​

    Did that statistic come from Wayne Lapierre? The most recent number I can find for deaths falling down stairs is 1,307 in the US in 2000. That year we had 10,801 firearm homicides.
  56. Section 336 is exactly what they are bypassing by going through the DoT. Congress didn't think that the administration would get around the law's exemption mandate by skipping the FAA entirely and using the regulatory power of the transportation department to deal with 9-ounce toys used by hobbyists.

    I get my information, by the way, through communication with someone who is sitting on the task force. He's disgusted at how the panel is leaning, but concedes that there's essentially nothing to be done to keep the administration from completely ignoring 336 through executive action. The new registration bureaucracy (which will NOT be optional) will include hobby toys. Current expectations are that fines for operating outside of the new regulation, even with a 9-ounce foam-winged toy, will be $20,000 (per toy, not per toy owner).

    Your quote (from Haggard), by the way, pre-dates the administration's decision to bypass the FAA's historical definition of "aircraft." Essentially, they just don't care. Again, per the DoT, "anything that flies" is now their turf.
  57. You can't bypass a statute by tasking something to the DoT instead of the FAA. It doesn't work that way. The statute

    All this commentary is on rumors. It's alarmist speculation. What will actually happen in the end will be that the regs will
    conform to the statute.
  58. You can't bypass a statute by tasking something to the DoT instead of the FAA. It doesn't work that way. The statute controls.​
    The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act is about (wait for it!) the FAA. That law doesn't control what the DoT does - it only effects the one agency, the FAA. The administration is doing this through the DoT because the law doesn't explicitly talk about the DoT, and the task force says that they can ignore congress's exemption for hobbyists by ensuring that it's not the FAA that regulates them. It's not exactly mysterious.

    This isn't like a law that says "The goverment can't regulate hobbyist skateboards," it's like a law that says "The Department of Parks can't regulate skateboard use." Which means that DoT can happily ignore limitations put on DoP by congress if that what the administration tells them to do. So they're sticking to the letter of the law while flipping the bird to the spirit and congressional intent of the law. Which is why lots of people are talking about challenging this entire new regulatory grab in court.
  59. That would be clever, but it doesn't work that way. The 2012 Act is an amendment to an existing title, you can't read lines from it in a vacuum. Statutory instructions relating to air safety given to one entity apply to both, because 49 U.S.C. § 106 delegates the DoT's aviation safety duties to the FAA Administrator. The instruction in 336 is given to the FAA Admin because that's the person tasked with promulgating the rules in this section. The Secretary of Transportation can't get around 336 by telling some other employee to publish the rules while the FAA Admin sits in his office playing Minesweeper.
    Matt, you are being so paranoid, arguing with you is pointless. You're not reasonable. There is not going to be a $20,000 fine for children flying a toy without a license. In several months, when this all stops being idle speculation skimmed off Reddit and starts being published rules I'll say I told you so.
  60. Andy, I'm listening to the actual words spoken by the task force themselves. Several months? They say this is going to be handled as an emergency, and put in place before this Christmas's peak shopping period ... specifically so that they can have the new requirements in place to apply to consumer/hobby purchases. The number of purchases of this hardware by and for professionals is a pale shadow of the numbers bought for recreational use. The recreational users are the very ones they (the FAA) claim to be worried about, and what this entire thing is all about. They said as much at the presser announcing the task force. The FAA has been looking for a way around 336 since the day the law was passed, including simply dragging their feet on almost all of the scheduled requirements of the Act generally.

    As for "paranoia?" Really? We're not arguing. I'm telling you what people involved in the process are saying the panel will recommend to the DoT. You're saying, essentially, "that sounds ridiculous," and therefore I'm paranoid. I didn't say "without a license" (why put words in my mouth?). The task force is talking about the output of registration being a DoT number that must be visible on the body of the registered aircraft. Not a license.

    I presume that when you say "license" you're referring to a certification (as general aviation pilots are required to have, and which even users of a cheap 2-pound quadcopter used at 30' off the ground to inspect your gutters has to have under 333 - yup, that roofing guy needs to be a certified pilot now, but the next door can use the same device to check his own gutters without one - funny, isn't it?). No, they're not talking about requiring recreational users to have a pilot's certification. Just the impending new federal registration, which has to be tied back to and displayed the aircraft, toy, etc. The panel is apparently arguing over things like serial numbers ... tricky, of course - many of these machines have no serial numbers since they are built to suit from off the shelf parts.

    They are looking to define that requirement as applying to anything at or over 9 ounces. The task force includes FAA people and DoT people, as well as AMA and (please note) several parties involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the devices in question. The industry members are known individuals, including well known lawyers - not fantasists. You're calling me paranoid, so please also call the fact-checked reporters at the Wall Street Journal paranoid, too. They have been carefully reporting on this industry for years now, and are also reporting multiple panel members as confirming the 9-ounce and hobby-user requirement as part of the recommendation. The WSJ isn't Reddit - they've been reporting on aviation law matters for as long as there's been aviation law and regulation.
  61. The FAA and DOT have published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for non-recreational UASs. It is far too long to
    reproduce here but it can be found in a web search. I am too tired to read all of it but that means there will be public
    hearings and the public may make written comment. There is no permanent rule yet as I understand the process.
    It does however define expected commercial uses. Publication of this rule will take a while.

    Incidentally I saw a Canadian Video of a manned unmanned aerial vehicle. A guy climbed aboard a vehicle with I
    think eight rotors that looked just like a UAV. He flew it for maybe thirty seconds over water and then landed it. It
    looked like it was battery powered and had what appeared to be a UAV stabilization system. It had a platform that he
    stood on, He landed it in the water. Not much battery life maybe. My guess is that it weighed about two hundred
    pounds with batteries and passenger or pilot. A good way to bust ones ass.
  62. Dick: that proposed rulemaking (as it relates to commercial users) has been in the wind for a while now, after much commentary. We're all hoping that they will finally relieve people like simple photographers from needing to be certified GA pilots - something the current 333 provision requires, and which is clearly being ignored out of shear absurdity by many thousands of people every day.

    I've see that video you mentioned. Yeah, practical battery powered multi-rotor flight with human carrying capacity is... not exactly there yet! :)
  63. Here's a video of the fall foliage in New England that includes lots of drone shots. The drone flew over private and probably public areas. http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/56271706/video/houzz-tv-this-drone-video-of-autumn-in-new-england-will-lift-your-soul?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2057&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery0
    First, did you like the video?
    Second, which heights and areas do you feel are acceptable or not and why?
  64. It's a very nice video. Music's a touch dramatic. Shooting the footage might have involved trespassing - I don't really know where the drone was in relation to property lines and the elevation above ground level it was flying at, or whether they spoke with the property owners first, or what NH law has to salon the matter.
  65. For anyone still following this, the task force's report has been formally passed along. The content is as ridiculous as expected. They are recommending All RC flying devices of all kinds, including 9-ounce (actually just under 9 ounces) fixed wing toy airplanes, will be registered with the government. The task force couldn't come up with any examples of such things actually being a problem for general aviation, and so opted instead for a rather silly invocation of head injuries - something that, once again, is statistically absurd given the millions of flight hours already on the books and injuries you can count on one hand ... compared to head injuries from soccer balls, jumping dogs, falling branches, hail, and everything else.

    The single large organization representing hundreds of thousands of people and many decades of operating RC tools and toys (the AMA) was not allowed to include their analysis in the task forces's report. This will come down to private citizens spending money in court to challenge this deliberate end-run around the 2012 FMRA, up against lawyers paid for with a bottomless pool of those same citizens' taxes. Obviously the retired guys at the local club, flying their balsa wood gas models around in circles at tree-top level aren't likely to comply. We'll know more about the fines for which they'll be liable after the DoT gets past asserting that the 2012 law doesn't apply.

    The task force says that they believe their report's guidance can be integrated as an emergency action by the DoT to meet the administration's December 21st deadline so that retailers will have time (a couple of days, not counting the hundreds of thousands of purchases that will have already happened!) to inform people making Holiday purchases about their brand new obligations to the government for that 8-ounce toy plane or little plastic multi-rotor widget. Yes, their recommendation also applies to even people buying devices that aren't capable of operating outdoors in any sort of breeze. Should be no problem getting all of those holiday toy purchases registered before flight with that 4-day lead time, right? You can't make this stuff up. And no, the DoT hasn't yet contracted with any IT dev/hosting operation to create or run the web site and database where this registration will take place, and has made no comment about to whom the collected personal data will be visible and under what circumstances. You can imagine that the procurement for and implementation of that new government web site will be the picture of grace, given the less-than-one-month window.
  66. Excellent news that progress is underway. Shouldn't be long, and though hardly perfect, it's a good start. Also pleased that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has been weighing in with their input.
  67. All they're making you do is provide a name and address, and put the number they give you on the drone. That's no
    burden at all. I can't believe people care.
  68. They care, Andy, because they are thinking about it within the context of not only previous comments from the FAA (which sees fit to require some people who operate tiny plastic copters to have full pilots certificates), but also because the move runs exactly contrary to law. It's contempt for congress and the plain intent of the law. I know that just doesn't matter to you, but there's more to it than that.

    Not least, because it establishes another pointless and expensive and no doubt utterly un-secured trove of data that will not do anything to stop stupid people from doing stupid things, let alone malicious people from doing malicious things. And it's being done in the name of stopping (as an emergency government act!) something that hasn't ever happened. You can't believe people care because you're not thinking about how spectacularly this represents everything that our out of control regulatory agencies over-do every year. Eight thousand new regs every year, and things like this will do nothing to stop anything because there's nothing to stop that isn't already very against existing laws.

    But that's OK. The Diane Feinteins of the world, who said she wants to simply and completely ban "drones" (in reaction to seeing some Code Pink protesters fly a tethered half-pound pink plastic flybar mall kiosk toy five feet above a sidewalk outside her house), are famous for looking at databases of people who own things and saying, "well, since we have a list..."

    Journalists have already said they're looking forward to being able to go fishing through such data so they can publish the names of people in areas where someone phones in an "an evil drone was watching my cat!" call. We've seen agenda-driven journalists do exactly that stunt, publishing interactive web maps showing names and addresses of, say, gun owners. There are crazies out there who absolutely WILL treat the retired pilot down the street (whose hobby is flying RC stuff around) no differently than they will the guy who's listed on the publicly available sex offender address directory.

    You're the one who earlier in this thread said that you can't believe they'd recommend registration of line of sight toy copters. But they've just recommended exactly that. You've said they can't go around the 2012 FMRA, but they're saying they'll do exactly that within the next four weeks. Your "I can't believe" and "they can't" list is worth remembering when you say you also can't imagine why anybody would find this entire maneuver to be preposterous given why they say they're doing it. Pay attention! They just said that the basis for getting you to federally register your 8.8 ounce Sharper Image toy is because of the sorts of injuries that can occur when it's flown up to 500 feet. That's the sort of absurd rationale they're actually putting in writing and expecting the Department of Transportation to act on. You know, because that half pound Sharper Image toy copter is definitely a dangerous form of transportation.
  69. I think we should register golfers so they'll have to
    place their registration number on each ball they hit.
    That way if they forget to yell "fore", the person who
    got hit on his head will be able to track down the
  70. Wait and see how it plays out. I agree with you that it does not go far enough to prevent injuries. Maybe Congress will
    eventually come to their senses and ban the things altogether.
  71. >>> I think we should register golfers so they'll have to place their registration number on each ball they hit. That way if they forget to yell "fore", the person who got hit on his head will be able to track down the culprit.
    When golfers begin interfering with life-flight medical evacuation helicopters, wildfire fire retardant delivery operations, and commercial and general aviation flights, or, when the Air Line Pilots Association recommends measures be put in place to deal with golf balls and golfers, I'll be the first to agree with you.
    I don't think you will find any pilots who have issues with golf balls and golfers. As opposed to drones and drone operators who have actually caused real endangerment to people and property.
  72. The drone sizes of 8 ounces are no threat to jets. The
    requirement is because it may hurt someone if it fell
    out of the sky. Like golf balls. By over reaching in the
    law and including insane and silly requirements, they
    will diminish the overall purpose of the law in areas
    where restrictions are important. The result will be,
    people will pay less attention to the law. And it won't
    be enforced. It will become liked the FCC license for 1
    watt walkie talkies that almost all consumers just
    ignore and which are not enforced in any case.
  73. It's likely this will be the most ignored piece of legislation in a long time - there's no way without an enormous increase in bureaucracy to do anything with this information. The chance of anyone reading a tail number on a 9-oz drone is near zero. It will come into play if/when someone gets hurt and the machine can be identified. Perhaps the smart insurance companies will use this as an opportunity to add a rider to my home policy so that I'm covered if I break someone's window. It's all rather humorous, costly, and way over-the-top paranoid.
    Interestingly, to bring this back to photography, this may provide an approach to allow commercial photographers to use drones under some set of rules. That's not clear to me, but it would be good if that is true. If it still requires additional FAA certification and approval for each flight it solves nothing in what should be a real burgeoning business.
  74. It gives the authorities an easier way to deal with the next idiot who crashes a drone in a crowded area. If it's numbered
    the pilot can easily be found, and if it's not and the pilot can be found anyway, it's easy to get a penalty against him.
  75. As expected, the DoT (not the FAA) has announced that they will require people using 9-ounce devices to pay the government to register their toys. If a kid has no idea that the $29, half-pound toy helicopter he got for his birthday three years ago has to now become a federally registered aircraft, he is subject to a civil penalty of $27,500 and a criminal fine of $250,000 and three years in jail.

    Meanwhile, people intent on operating a remote control device where they're not supposed to, or using an RC plane for something nefarious (dropping contraband over a prison wall, carrying a bomb, etc) will just ignore the new requirement, save the registration costs, and just do what they were going to do anyway.

    The administration will no doubt take proud credit for administratively bypassing the 2012 law prohibiting exactly this sort of thing, and will claim to have stopped the horrible ongoing onslaught of RC-related mayhem that ... hasn't been happening at all. A victory for low-information-voter-friendly theatrics that won't change a single malicious, ignorant, or negligent person's behavior. But it will definitely show that middle school kid with the curiosity and passion to build and operate a 9-ounce toy in his back yard who's boss.
  76. Good! This clarifies that you don't have to consider the "will it be out of line-of-sight" question and make a judgment call on whether to register your drone, registration is free for the first three years, and it avoids placing any burden on the recreational user who only operates within line of sight aside from spending five minutes with a web site and a sharpie. The next moron who crashes a drone at a sporting event will be easily tracked, and the hobby users who don't stay within line of sight operation can be held to whatever other rules are being considered.
    Isn't "This law is pointless because criminals will break it" an argument against all laws in general? Also, the registration program clearly belongs to the FAA, which is turn belongs to the DOT, so I don't see why the DOT being involved should be considered offensive.
  77. If it clearly belongs to the FAA, then it directly violates the plainly worded 2012 FMRA law. The attempt to get around the law through the auspices of the DoT (this was a hot topic of discussion among the panel members on the advisory board that, as it turns out, was of course completely ignored) is offensive because of the arrogance it signals on the part of the administration, in its contempt for congress.

    As for the next person who crashes something being easily tracked ... how will that work, exactly, if the bad guy doesn't feel like registering, or writes down a made-up or illegible number? As usual, the rule only really applies to people who are inclined to be thoughtful in the first place. Malicious operators aren't going to run out and announce themselves to the government, let alone write incriminating information on the RC planes they build.

    As for LOS, etc., this has no bearing on that. That's only for commercial operators, and is still under discussion. The FAA is legally barred from regulating hobby users on that front, just as they are barred from the sort of new bureaucracy they've just created. There are already several organizations putting together legal challenges on the simple grounds that the 2012 law is being plainly violated in letter and spirit.
    Isn't "This law is pointless because criminals will break it" an argument against all laws in general?​
    No. Because criminal prosecution isn't prior restraint. And this isn't a law, it's a regulation ... with very dubious authority to present that middle school hobbyist with a jail term for flying his half-pound plastic toy in his back yard without magic numbers on it.

    The real treasure here is the DoT officially calling that 12 year old kid with a 9-ounce toy an "aviator," and the 9-ounce toy an "aircraft." Interestingly, that pronouncement will probably kick off a lot of courtroom friction as hundreds of state and local RC toy rules fall apart in the face of the elevation of RC toys to "aircraft," which are out of bounds for local regulation and are strictly federal territory.
  78. As for the next person who crashes something being easily tracked ... how will that work, exactly, if the bad guy doesn't feel like registering, or writes down a made-up or illegible number?​

    Then when they do find him there will be more punishments piled on.
    The real treasure here is the DoT officially calling that 12 year old kid with a 9-ounce toy an "aviator," and the 9-ounce toy an "aircraft."​

    You yourself referred to a drone as an aircraft when arguing that it's not legal to down one that trespasses on your property! You think that flying a drone above somebody's roof level is not trespass because it's an aircraft in the public air highway. But you also don't think it's subject to regulations as an aircraft in the public air highway.
    If it clearly belongs to the FAA, then it directly violates the plainly worded 2012 FMRA law. The attempt to get around the law through the auspices of the DoT (this was a hot topic of discussion among the panel members on the advisory board that, as it turns out, was of course completely ignored) is offensive because of the arrogance it signals on the part of the administration, in its contempt for congress.​

    Then it's DOT that is doing the work. The FAA is the part of the DOT that is tasked with regulation and oversight of commercial aviation. When Congress instructs DOT to do something, DOT delegates it to FAA. This is not "contempt for Congress." What would you have DOT do, task the drone regulations to the Federal Railroads Administration? Perhaps the Secretary of Transportation should have asked the St. Lawrence Seaway administrator to write up the drone rules? No? Then it's down to the aviation people.
  79. Andy: Show me where I said that flying at roof level without permission of the roof's owner isn't trespass. Be specific.
    Then it's DOT that is doing the work.​
    Right. The law bans the FAA from doing what's just been done, which is why the administration used the FAA-centric language/construction in the 2012 law to get around the clear intent of congress. Congress instructed the FAA to NOT do something. They prohibited the FAA from doing what was just done. You seem to be suggesting that that's OK, as long as that agency's parent entity does it, instead.

    So, if congress passes a law explicitly saying that the TSA cannot racially profile passengers, are you OK if DHS institutes such a program, instead? Or if the the FBI is barred, in a law passed through congress, from reading the internal content of your email, is it OK of the DoJ does it, instead? After all, it would be the DoJ "doing the work," right?
    What would you have DOT do, task the drone regulations to the Federal Railroads Administration?​
    What? I would have the DoT leave aviation safety regulations to the FAA, where that expertise and structure already exists and which is chartered for that very purpose, and then I would expect that agency to follow the law. With respect to the topic at hand, the law plainly prohibits what was just done. How is this confusing?
  80. Bad timing for new registration plan if you oppose it. Check on the video in the story. PS> How do you make it a link?

Share This Page