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back to article Alabama quadchopper hits THREE THOUSAND FEET next to AIRPORT

An Alabama UAV enthusiast has been told by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to steer clear of airports after he sent a quadcopter up to 1,100m (3,609 feet) within five miles of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM). Michael Mayhew posted an impressive video of the DJI Phantom 2 flight on YouTube, and shared …

From the link you cite:

"There is currently a rulemaking proceeding that aims to improve the regulations on UAVs. It will take a while; indeed, you shouldn't hope for anything before 2010-2012. "

In other words is waaaaaay out of date.

Since then there's been a court case which proved the FAA's purported rules about UAV operations aren't worth the paper they (aren't) printed on; they don't exist. So as of now there ARE no rules affecting UAV operations in the USA; until the FAA get their arses into gear and go through the notice-and-comment rule making procedure, both amateur and commercial UAV/drone use is legal and unregulated in the USA.

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Yes, IANAL but the FAA rules appear to be guidlines and not actual laws.

Although it changes as soon as you start charging money for it, and exacltly the same model becomes an aircraft.

Also it would appear they want to ban FPV goggles.

http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/faa-issues-notice-clarifying-legal-model-aircraft-use

Interestingly, even though the drone was in class B airspace, the airport didn't detect it, are they too small for radar?

Also, I would just like to add that this was a foolish thing to do near an airport and it's people like this with DJI Phantoms (search Phantom Flyaway) that will get the hobby banned for the rest of us.

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Re: @corestore

"This is why the UK has resisted having a written Constitution, by the way; obsolescence due to changing circumstances."

I strongly suspect that is not the (only) reason. Other countries with written constitutions even manage to update the things, you know...

(Not that ours is worth the paper it's printed on as citizens can't refer to it when they claim rights violations - instead they have to use e.g. the European Convention on Human Rights)

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Happy

Re: @corestore

I think it more the amount of red tape to update in the US to update constantly, far too much red tape and arguing lawyers with 52 states all arguing their own bias to make the law favourable. (like teaching AIDS awareness or gay rights or creationism)

In the UK people claim human rights, but they abuse the system and claim for lots that are nothing to do with human rights violations.

Don't fall into blaming Europe for laws we adopted (from the courts of human rights via Winston Churchill) before hand but paranoid media have scapegoated back onto Europe.

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LDS
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Sure a small drone is too small for a primary radar, and having no transponder can't be seen from any secondary one. Flying so close to Class B airspace is foolish, and sometimes even if there is not a specific rule to deny something, common sense should be used. The idea "I'll do it because now I can, even if it looks stupid" is what is turning the actual world in a planet of morons...

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Big Brother

Re: @corestore

A written constitution?

We want to prevent "obsolescence due to changing circumstances", sir.

There is a cattle truck waiting for you, sir. Yes, the circumstances changed. Again. Sorry about that.

What's that you are showing me here? A musquet? How utterly quaint.

Right, take him away boys.

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Re: @avatar of they

52 states?

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Pint

@ Arnaut the less -- Re: @corestore

The simple fact is that the present US government would not introduce driving licences if they did not already exist, on the basis that it might restrict the sales of cars.

+5 Insightful. Have an upvote!

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Re: @corestore

Arnaut, we do have one. The Bill of Rights.

However, the government(s) has basically ignored it and overwritten it for so long that it is pretty much worthless.

The 'merkins have at least got that bit right - if you don't defend your rights they rapidly become nothing but forgotten words on paper.

Oh, and the US Constitution was modelled on our Bill of Rights. It's just the citizens there kept it alive.

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I wonder what flying your drone through a firework display does to your insurance premium?

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Ask Admiral Adama!

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He might have used a telephoto lens. I would.

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Not a telephoto... He turns round in the middle of the display at one point!

It's an amazing bit of footage, and it would be a pity if such filming is forbidden, by definition, the firework display is clear of people (this one over a river I believe), so even if it did catch a bit of flack and go down, it should do little more than make a splash.

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Happy

so even if it did catch a bit of flack and go down, it should do little more than make a splash.

You heartless bastard! Have you no regard for the safety of Playmonauts?

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@Steve Evans

The fireworks may be clear of spectators, but what about the people operating them? Or the fireworks themselves? If a UAV takes a hit from a firework and goes down, odds are it crashes harmlessly, but those odds are far from 100%.

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Re: @Steve Evans

If a UAV takes a hit from a firework and goes down, odds are it crashes harmlessly, but those odds are far from 100%.

This firework display was over a huge area of water, so the odds of any quadcopter crash being harmless on this occasion were very close to 100%.

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Re: @Steve Evans

I imagine with a firework display like that the people operating them will be sat far away in a tin shed pressing a button.

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Devil

Not sure, but I believe that a bunch of 3D-cinema execs are tearing out their hair right now for not having thought of filming that first. I mean, that's pure 3D gold! Probably the first thing I've seen to actually justify putting on those 3D glasses.

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Re: @Steve Evans

If a UAV takes a hit from a firework and goes down, odds are it crashes harmlessly, but those odds are far from 100%

=======

It could crash anyway, irrespective of fireworks.

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at what point does a model aircraft become a UAV?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Fair point. I'd suggest an autopilot is a factor.

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"at what point does a model aircraft become a UAV?"

When you're explaining to your friends in a way that makes it seem cooler?

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But what...

is an autopilot? 3-dof leveling, 6-dof stabilisation, altitude hold, speed hold, gps guidance, enroute reprogrammable?

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A model aircraft (or remote controlled aircraft ) is immediately promoted to being a UAV when one of the following occur:

1. It is noticed by law enforcement or any other government agency.

2. It is noticed by the media.

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Nope.. Autopilots have been available for remote controlled aircraft for ages.

And radio controlled aircraft are not necessarily fragile balsa wood and tissue paper things. If they were, the jet engine models wouldn’t survive take off.

Main difference as far as I can see is UAV sounds far more menacing than toy helicopter, in a story about a bloke being stupid enough to fly a toy helicopter near an airport.

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at what point does a model aircraft become a UAV?

In the UK during the 70s anything with a wing span over 11 feet was considered a light aircraft and subject to all regulations for same.

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Thumb Up

Pah, I have a screensaver that looks like that!

GL Skyrocket.

The video is actually pretty good...

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LOHAN goes higher than that

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But Lohan does it with the knowledge and approval of the relevant authorities.

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Big Brother

You mean they take time between their drunken stupors and cronyist griftings to worry about things like quadacopters and model rockets? Who knew the day was long enough...

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No, more like they HAVEN'T is the reason that the regulations haven't been done.

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Anonymous Coward

UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

I have a distinct feeling that the US will soon be deploying Ack-Ack batteries around every airport just in case some idiot tries to fly one of these into the patch of a passenger jet.

Add a bit of Explosive (all those unused 4th July Fireworks would do) and boom.

no risk to the bad guys either. They can be miles away.

One more reason (if it were needed) not to fly to the US unless you really have to.

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Re: UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

It might be difficult to actually pull off.

Large airliners are fast and have messy air movements all around them.

An accident, being random, is far more likely.

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Re: UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

What about Bird Strikes?

I've seen one take down a Jet. At Dunsfold in Nov 1975 a Hawker P125 took off at dusk and ran into a flock. Both engines flames out and the plane bellyflopped over the peri-fence, over the A281 and ended up in the field beyond.

http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/history-from-police-archives/RB1/Pt3/pt3HS125crash75.html

A UAV being sucked into an engine just as the plane rotates is not something I'd want to happen.

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Black Helicopters

Re: UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

> I have a distinct feeling that the US will soon be deploying Ack-Ack batteries around every airport just in case some idiot tries to fly one of these into the patch of a passenger jet.

Ack-Ack batteries to shoot down a quadcopter? Isn't that what cruise missiles were invented for?

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Holmes

Re: UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

Isn't that what cruise missiles were invented for?

What? No. These are not meant to intercept flying targets. Initially it was a stealthy, ground-hugging transporter for nuclear warheads - you know, go deep into Soviet territory for some action, possibly underneath radar (Risks of first-strike weapon? You bet! But it was mainly to keep the air force and its bombers, which had become a bit too obsolete, relevant).

When production became "cheap enough" in th early 90's, they got fitted with conventional warheads as needed. ("Needed" meaning: a politician needed to blow his load to show "resolve" but did not want to take the ugly decision to put "boots on the ground"; upon which there was much rejoicing ~~yeaaahhh~~)

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Re: UAV's : bigger threat to planes than carry-on kit?

An accident is also extremely unlikely, given the volume of air occupied by the quad and the aircraft compared with the volume of air available to each. A collision by pure chance alone is probably less likely than winning the lottery - added to which the operator no doubt wants to avoid a collision and so would immediately descend should they see any aircraft in the area.

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Bird strikes have more recently taken down large passenger jets...

The best known example being the "Miracle on the Hudson" five years ago, where US Airways Flight 1549 lost both engines to Canadian geese, and ditched in the Hudson River.

One study from 1999 estimated bird strikes cause $1.2 Billon (US) damage annually worldwide, to commercial jets alone (i.e., not including private, military, or other aircraft).

Deaths are rarer, but they happen, by FAA estimates at least 200 since 1988.

Airports can to some extent keep birds away. A number of methods have been successful in reducing large flocks around most major airfields.

But a drone, or a model airplane, will not be frightened away by those measures, and either is harder for a pilot to see than even a single flapping bird.

Anyone who flies ANY aircraft into commercial airspace without notice - remote controlled or otherwise, and regardless of size - is an irresponsible idiot.

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Facepalm

Shocked FAA haven't been all over this or at leat updated their laws.

I think laws and FAA rules aside, when one gets sucked through the engine or bounces off a commercial aircraft things will be very messy, very quickly for the operator.

Some law somewhere will be stuck to them with a nail gun. Probably public endangerment would apply or attempted murder if they can prove it. (or in anyway apply the terrorism laws)

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Re: Shocked FAA haven't been all over this or at leat updated their laws.

"Some law somewhere will be stuck to them with a nail gun."

Here in Australia, that would be the charge of "interfering with the operation of an aircraft", the same offence they slap the idiots who shine laser pointers at planes with. It's a terrorism-related offence, so getting slapped with that means you are in some very, very deep doo-doo.

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Flame

The thing is...

all the air usage laws, UK or US and elsewhere, are nominally for the safety of people flying. It's why you *don't* fly into an ATZ without permission from ATC; why you don't fly on instruments unqualified; why certain airspace is zoned to exclude e.g. my paraglider.

Pilots can on the whole be expected to be doing certain things in certain circumstances, to respect the rights of way of other aircraft, to maintain clearances and suchlike. A major reason that they do that is that if they don't, there's a good chance of it being fatal.

That simply does not apply in the case a remote piloted vehicle; the pilot's biggest risk is loss of his machine. These things terrify me; bad enough flying into a bird (I've done it; it's painful) but meeting one of these at three thousand feet? No thanks...

They're no doubt huge fun but they're potentially lethal.

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@ Neil Barnes Re: The thing is...

Spot on. My understanding of the CAA/FAA etc to provide the saftey for different types of use of Airspace, whether your in A380, a vintage Tiger Moth, your paraglider, hot air ballon etc.

The type of airspace, ATZ's, air corridoors, NOTAM's all allow, (or at least shold allow) everyone to do their thing without endangering anyone else.

I would have thought, that these things would be covered the same way as any other Radio Controllered Model, sure they may have more 'smarts' built in then the old RC models, but they are still RC craft.

This numpty taking to 3,000FT close to a commerical airport is just plain mad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Neil Barnes The thing is...

Plain mad? or plane mad?

Coat...

PS. Hitting one of these should be worse than a bird, because a bird doesn't have a set of heavy, dense metallic batteries somewhere in its structure.

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Re: @ Neil Barnes The thing is...

> Hitting one of these should be worse than a bird,

The body of a bird is solid, especially when you hit one at silly-MPH. A drone will mostly disintegrate, as it's all light plastic - a reviewer killed a DJI Phantom by flying it into a tree.

It was a bird strike to both engines that downed the airliner that landed in the Hudson, and four geese went through the windscreen of a Pave Hawk flying low over a marsh causing it to crash and kill all on board.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Neil Barnes The thing is...

"The body of a bird is solid, especially when you hit one at silly-MPH" er, no. Search youtube for 737 turbines tests with bird flesh. The turbines get mostly just smeared. Actually, the safest place where a bird that size could hit a plane would be one turbine; even if it seizes, most passenger aircraft has at least two. The snag was exactly hitting a whole flock.

Well, flying a drone into a tree, it can't fly at silly-mph, can it?

Exactly the point of the batteries is the concern, everything else has not much mass about it and would vaporize. But NOT the batteries, those would cause a shotgun-size hole on any aircraft's skin, again flying at silly-MPH. Specially if it is not made of several cells, that are literally silvertaped together and tend to be sturdy enough to hold lithium cells. How large are they, 40mm in at least one dimension? Anti-aircraft shells have that size.

Time to call Mythbusters.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical

This should be a wake up notice that as usual we have people with no respect for law and other people's safety. It's sad that we live in a world full of arse clowns.

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Headmaster

Re: Typical

This is no way to talk about duly elected politicians!

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I've posted a rant here before

so I'll just keep it short.

I'm a pilot. I have a piece of paper that shows I know airspace structures and where I can and cannot operate an air vehicle.

Anyone operating anything (remote or otherwise) over 200 feet altitude (I think 400 is WAY too generous already) should IMHO be able to show a similar piece of paper.

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Re: I've posted a rant here before

I think the rules in France at pretty stringent, and for my dinky little helicopter (I'd like a quad) I would really prefer to keep it where I can clearly see it.

To add to this, military jets often test drive around this patch of sky. The thing would be a burning wreck in the field long before a model plane operator even had a chance to register the military aircraft's presence, never mind drop out of the way.

So, upvote for you sir. Model aircraft can be lots of fun, but if somebody is going to be an asshat about it, they'll make the rest of us look like asshats too. I agree - if a person is going to fly out of what is considered reasonable for a model, they ought to have a piece of paper to demonstate a lack of asshattery, and another piece of paper providing the relevant permissions.

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