The FAA’s Proposed UAS “Drone” Laws are Available for Public Comment

Link to the complete set of proposed laws, and where you can comment:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150-0017

Summary of proposed laws:

Operational Limitations • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
• Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.
• At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
• Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation.
• Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time).
• Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned.
• May use visual observer (VO) but not required.
• First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
• Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
• Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
• No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace.
• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission
• No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
• No operations from a moving vehicle or aircraft, except from a watercraft on the water.
• No careless or reckless operations.
• Requires preflight inspection by the operator.
• A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS.
• Proposes a microUAS category that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, and would require airman to self-certify that they are familiar with the aeronautical knowledge testing areas.
Operator Certification and Responsibilities • Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”.
• Operators would be required to:
○ Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
○ Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
○ Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
○ Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
○ Be at least 17 years old.
○ Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
○ Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
○ Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.
Aircraft Requirements • FAA airworthiness certification not required. However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft).
• Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.
Model Aircraft • Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.
• The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

 

I think the important parts are that this DOES open a practical and feasible avenue for people to operate a UAS (“drone” is a stupid, ominous name so everyone stop saying it!) commercially… something even I have seen could be a great boost to the US Economy, with many new creative job and career opportunities created.

I also think it’s VERY important, to anyone that flies *ANYTHING* else, that these proposed laws make certain things unmistakably clear.
1. UAS can only be operated via line-of-sight (you need to see the damn thing, can’t fly it miles away using ONLY a live video feed… although live video feed CAN still be used while flying LOS).
2. UAS must operate under 500 ft unless proper authorization is obtained (doesn’t prevent some bone head from taking out small or large aircraft, but it makes doing something likely to produce that result illegal… what more can you do?!)
3. Cleary defines that ALL UAS must yield right-of-way to all other manned and unmanned aircraft.  This includes hang gliders and paragliders!  Does this mean you’re any less likely to get hit by a bozo’s Christmas present?  NO.  But at least it clearly makes the Bozo in the wrong, legally.  Again, what more can be done?!)

 

All in all I find these proposed rules agreeable- both as someone who often occupies the NAS (National Airspace System), AND as someone who really enjoys aerial photography and is hopeful to pursue such commercially some day…

Well played Washington, well played… Now, when will these actually go into effect?!  AND… when will that FAA UAS Operator Exam be ready?!  Sign me up!



Winter Play

Having worked through physical therapy for my shoulder, and being fully cleared by my doctor… I’m officially a healed, rehabilitated, physically able-bodied person again!  And despite record cold and getting trounced with snow, I’ve been doing by best to get out and fly when I can.

Here are a couple recent shots from doing some winter flying in my Falcon 4 and my new (used) harness

DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO  (more…)



TBT: First Loops

My first loop was on the day of Scott “Loop It” Jewell’s service.  He was loved by so many, and as such his service was very well attended by pilots from near and far.  It was also forecasted to be a classic flying day in Ellenville.

It was a perfect impromptu memorial fly in!  And it felt so right to do my first loop on this day.

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TBT: Tandems All Over

Some memorable flights with dad…

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Can't remember where, Virginia maybe?

Can’t remember where, Virginia maybe?

Truck towing at Pocono E Stroudsburg Airport, PA

Truck towing at Pocono E Stroudsburg Airport, PA

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The Man on the Silver Mountain

EDIT:  A few people have expressed concern regarding the Eagle footage in this video.  I would like to share a public response to better explain the manor in which this footage was captured:

I appreciate your concern, and I think your heart is absolutely in the right place.  All birds, Eagles most of all, need to be protected, cared for, and looked after.

The thought that I, as such an avid flight enthusiast myself, would do ANYTHING to disturb or harm such a creature is just not true.  Again, I certainly appreciate your sentiment, but I feel it a bit misplaced in this case.

I was filming with my quadcopter, just above tree-top height, along that river (our LZ) well before the Eagle passed by.  He/she was flying along the river, and passed very near to my quadcopter.  Not so near that I was worried about collision, but near enough that I am very confident the Eagle was not concerned with sharing the air with it.  I followed him a short ways, staying well behind at first, and slowly approaching.  The Eagle did not seem concerned in the least.  I swung wide and tried to get a side-view, at which point the Eagle actually came closer to my quadcopter, resulting in the shot used in this video.  Again, I am very confident he was not scared, was not threatened,Š wasn’t even curious!

Also I should mention that I was not nearly as close as the video appears.  It was taken with a GoPro, but the field of view was set to narrow.  I was also shooting 2.7k HD (bigger than full-HD 1080), which allowed me to crop (zoom) in on the footage.

I did not set out to capture or “chase” this Eagle… he/she basically flew into my shot and I just flew along with them to briefly keep them in-frame.  It was very serendipitous, with circumstances likely never to occur again.  I was very lucky to be in the right place, right time, camera rolling…

Once again I would like to say that I understand and appreciate your concerns, and I think we share the same ideals regarding the treatment of birds.  I have also shared this footage with some very experienced and respected Falconers, and they were confident the Eagle was not threatened, concerned, or distressed in any manor- he was just going about his business as usual.

Some have compared this case of a 500mm electric quadcopter flying a straight path to a full size paraglider, with a human (“Super Dell”), wearing a 2-stoke gas engine and tirelessly chasing in all directions what is very clearly a bird trying to escape- never mind KICKING the animal- I am sorry, but these cases are nothing alike.

Lastly, I would like to apologize if my footage upset you.  Maybe with more information you can see it’s not what you thought it was?  But regardless, I aim to inspire people to appreciate flight, not upset anyoneŠ and so if my video has brought stress to you I do apologize.

And finally, I respectfully request that, if anyone else attempts to capture similar images- that they too do so very respectfully and are mindful that WE are the visitors in THEIR homes, and should behave as such.  That Eagle is “The Man on the Silver Mountain”.

Thanks and cheers all,
Ryan Voight



Inaugural Ramp Launch

Photo by Jorge Grey

Photo by Jorge Grey

If you haven’t heard, New York State has been working on giving many of the scenic overlooks in the area a face-lift.  One of those overlooks is home to the Ellenville Ramp, which we use when wintery conditions prevent us from driving up the dirt road to our usual launch(s).  In addition to revamping the scenic overlook, the State of New York built for us an entirely new ramp… and paid for the whole thing (materials + labor, everything!). (more…)



Shoulder Health, Part I

I’ve been involved in a dangerous activity for a long time, but it’s only caught up with me in a few instances. In 1998 I broke my right wrist, in 1999 I sprained and dislocated my left shoulder, and in 2003 I broke my left ankle… all playing hockey.

No, it wasn’t flying, and maybe that’s not what you expected me to say? I’m pretty surprised about it, too… but I’ve had a combination of excellent instructors and a few very important instances of good fortune, so the only injuries I’ve had to overcome were from other things.

One of those injuries- the dislocated shoulder- has plagued me ever since; Over 15 years now, literally half my life. (more…)



TBT: Just a regular kid… at some random flying site

Ryan-Plane-little



Happy Frozen Voights

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It was a great, cold and challenging day at Ellenville today… and it’s really special to get to share it with Dad.



Sunrise

One nice thing about these short winter days… it’s a lot easier to get up to watch the sun rise!  Inspirational.

IMG_6453_b copy IMG_6458_b