back to article UK authorities probe 'drone hitting plane at Heathrow'

The United Kingdom's Metropolitan Police and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are both investigating an apparent collision between a drone and a passenger aircraft. British Airways says the pilot of an A320 landing at Heathrow on Sunday reported hitting something during the landing approach. The object has since been recovered …

Silver badge
Facepalm

Kudos to the idiot responsible

Keep this kind of thing up and, sooner or later, a plane will go down in flames. I hope the Police will find him and the judge will make an example of him. This kind of stupidity must stop.

In related matters, it's curious how a journalist coming back from talking with Snowden was detained (however long) under terrorist laws, but in this case nobody is even mentioning the term when lives were clearly at risk.

27
1
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

The idiot or idiots responsible should be lashed to the tailpipe of a Tornado or a Typhoon and re-heat engaged.

If an aircraft (no matter what size) is downed by one of these then all drones will be made illegal the next day. Only professional drone operators will be allowed to use them.

Personally, I can't wait for the day.

Meanwhile over in the US, some states have made shooting down a drone a criminal offense no matter what the drone is doing. This includes snooping on what is going on inside your home.

The NSA/FBI will be applauding this move. Now they can snoop on their suspects as much as they like always hoping that their snoop drone (or drones) get downed by the suspect and that gives them the perfect excuse to cuff the person.

I predict that all the nice juicy stuff will soon go underground (literally) just to avoid drone snooping.

6
18
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

There is no such thing as "professional drone operator", at least not in the UK. There is a notion of "insured pilot", and "sport pilot" and also "commercial pilot", but not "professional". I do not quite see a reason why it would be useful anyway - you can have recreational pilots of small airplanes (obliged to be licensed and insured) which are way more dangerous than any (non-military) drone will ever be.

5
20
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

The people who fly drones for a living might disagree with you.

Here is a link to one such company

http://www.sky-futures.com/

18
0
LDS
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Usually, below a "commercial pilot" license (or equivalent) you can't fly being paid for your work (which makes it the start of a "professional" pilot career).

While usually with licenses below "private pilot" (or equivalent) you have many restrictions - passenger number, and so on - including when and where you can fly.

Airspace nearby controlled airports has specific classifications and thus specific rules to fly within (including being in radio contact with the air traffic control), thereby any licensed pilot is usually far less dangerous than any wannabe drone operator without any idea of flying into controlled airspace.

12
0

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Isn't registration of all drones compulsory in the US already? So basically they are all meant to be 'chipped' to identify the operator, otherwise it's illegal to fly. Or am I thinking of another country?

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

@"The idiot or idiots responsible should be lashed to the tailpipe of a Tornado or a Typhoon and re-heat engaged."

Why? Why would you kill someone for doing something that resulted in no detectable damage to an aircraft? That's just hyperbole.

@"Meanwhile over in the US, some states have made shooting down a drone a criminal offense no matter what the drone is doing. This includes snooping on what is going on inside your home."

Bullets crash to the ground and kill people, being so small and design to penetrate skin and kill. So of course you're not allowed to shoot down a drone. It would cause all these metal killer projectiles to come raining down!

And the reason? Privacy invasion?

Can you kill a person with a camera in the street because you think he might be photographing you inside your own house? But his camera has a zoom lens and the drones doesn't. If he was in a microlight would you be allowed to shoot him down then?

13
16
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Fear-monger much?

They didn't even find any damage, they're not even sure it was a drone and not a bird. We know it wasn't a Phantom because the software stops you flying within 5km of an airport.

Britain never made drones, it will never do anything as long as people like you try to spread panic about everything new. How long before one of you lot prevent Britain getting involved in self driving cars? Spread a little panic about them.... how long before a self driving car crashed into a school, think of the children!

8
15
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

@"The idiot or idiots responsible should be lashed to the tailpipe of a Tornado or a Typhoon and re-heat engaged."

Why? Why would you kill someone for doing something that resulted in no detectable damage to an aircraft? That's just hyperbole.

I don't think you know what hyperbole means. However, heat has always been an acceptable method of sterilisation, in this case applied to the part of the gene pool we don't want to reproduce much.

@"Meanwhile over in the US, some states have made shooting down a drone a criminal offense no matter what the drone is doing. This includes snooping on what is going on inside your home."

Bullets crash to the ground and kill people, being so small and design to penetrate skin and kill. So of course you're not allowed to shoot down a drone. It would cause all these metal killer projectiles to come raining down!

For everything else, there is buckshot. Let's start with cause and effect, though - I AM indeed entitled to my privacy and so are my kids, so if some jerk decides that his right to play with toys of questionable benefit (because professionals don't do such a thing) overrides my family's right to privacy he's booking either the toy or himself a date with a destructive force, which will, of course, happen "entirely by accident". It's exactly this stupid, idiotic and entirely unjustified sense of entitlement that enables these f*ckwits to endanger others.

"Oooh, look, nothing happened so it's OK to do it again" - that will be heard just until a plane goes down in flames. Jet engines may look big and massive, but they are precision balanced machines that are not designed as toy mulchers, and you damage them on the absolute most critical part of the journey: the landing. So, I'll also promise any entity flying a drone near an airport a quick call to the local police, and I'll be happy to film it and dox the fool online as well.

Can you kill a person with a camera in the street because you think he might be photographing you inside your own house? But his camera has a zoom lens and the drones doesn't. If he was in a microlight would you be allowed to shoot him down then?

In my house I can draw the curtains, and I can set up a hedge (which is one of the many justified reasons why Google Streetview got into trouble in countries with respect for privacy, they were looking over the fence), and it's going to be rather visible who is trying to sneak a peek. I can't draw curtains on the space above my house, it's not always possible to identify who controls the drone but I refuse to keep my kids inside because some pervert thinks he has to pay no attention to my family's right to privacy.

BTW, there are drones with zoom lenses - it simply depends what you fit and how you protect it against vibration.

9
13
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Fear-monger much?

They didn't even find any damage, they're not even sure it was a drone and not a bird. We know it wasn't a Phantom because the software stops you flying within 5km of an airport.

I prefer to trust the official report made by people qualified to know the difference, and I think we can trust a pilot to know the difference too. He/she is not going to report something like that if it hadn't happened because it means a lot of extra hassle and paperwork.

By the way, are you thus arguing that idiots like this should first actually DOWN a plane before this is taken seriously? Really?

21
3
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

"...I think we can trust a pilot to know the difference too."

I presume, then, you believe all the UFO reports made by pilots?

7
11
LDS
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Pilots do report *unidentified* flying object without implying what they are. If they saw something strange, they report it.

Then if there are tinfoil hat wearers who believe those are alien ships or flying unicorns it's a different matter.

34
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

I presume, then, you believe all the UFO reports made by pilots?

Definitely, given that UFO simply means "Unidentified Flying Object".

"Unidentified Alien Object" is a different TLA..

18
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Fear-monger much?

They didn't even find any damage, they're not even sure it was a drone and not a bird. We know it wasn't a Phantom because the software stops you flying within 5km of an airport.

Let me give you "fear monger": the first idiot to down a plane with a drone will have them classified as a terrorist device, because it is indeed the simplest way to down a plane using materials you can simply buy in any toy shop, which in this specific case would have resulted in a runway-length smear made of 132 people. I also suspect that in that case it would no longer matter which brand it was.

Is that what you want, or shall we endeavour to get idiots like this locked up as fast as we find them?

12
2
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

I presume, then, you believe all the UFO reports made by pilots?

Kindly look up the meaning of "unidentified".

"I saw something in the air, but was unable to identify what it was". It's only the crackpot brigade that associates "unidentified".with "supernatural".

25
1
Happy

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

They do, I've flown on flights where the IFE has had multiple cameras, one at the front, one underneath looking straight down and one on the tail fin. Ethiad I think.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

No it's not. If this keeps up they will make all drones be registered and carry a transponder.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Given that there have been numerous 'sightings' of drones in situations at altitudes and speeds which are not physically possible I think a paranoid pilot is the least trustworthy source. The number of sightings of birds near heathrow has 'coincidentedly' dropped as the number of drone sightings increased. The fact is they are currently calling anything they didn't quite see a drone.

Meanwhile the police and several other companies are using drones within the airport grounds perfectly safely without nearby planes spontaneously exploding.

You should dial back the paranoia because people are already taking this seriously and it is an extremely low risk of happening.

5
13
Facepalm

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Really? So some twatspanner behaves like a complete smeghead and everyone else's enjoyment suffers?

By your reasoning, the next time some idiot gets done for drink-driving we can expect a ban on all cars? Or, possibly a ban on all alcohol, 'cos that worked rather well the last time it was tried.....

8
0

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

There certainly are "professional drone operators" in the UK, and the rules they operate under are significantly stricter than for those who fly drones as a hobby.

2
1
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

"Personally, I can't wait for the day."

As a person who enjoys flying a little drone out in the country away from anything of importance (and with a maximum range of around 70m before the radio poops out), screw you and screw the dumbasses who think it is funny to buzz airliners...

Don't assume an asshole represents everybody.

11
0
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Britain never made drones?

Soooo whats the DH.82 Queen bee then if not a drone? (and one of the earliest ones at that which gave us the name of drone).

Now if one of them hit an aircraft there would be a hell of a mess

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Really? So some twatspanner behaves like a complete smeghead and everyone else's enjoyment suffers?

Upvote for enriching my vocabulary with "twatspanner" :)

5
0
Silver badge

The weather balloon that launched a thousand saucers.

Definitely, given that UFO simply means "Unidentified Flying Object".

"Unidentified Alien Object" is a different TLA..

If you believe UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object then you're putting words into my mouth by assuming I'm using it to mean something different. And the fact that you assume I mean "UAO" probably means UFO really means UAO, even to you. And, opening up the OED on my desk, I find UFO defined as "a mysterious object seen in the sky for which it is claimed no orthodox scientific explanation can be found, popularly said to be a vehicle carrying extraterrestrial." No other definition is given. And it's not defined as an acronym, although it notes that was the origin of the word. (I note that a UAO would qualify for your definition of a UFO provided it was airborne.)

By and large, I tend to be generous to bug reports: the user saw something. But a user's analysis can often be suspect; even pilots can be confused about unexpected events. Google returned a page of pilot reports: the top one being a mile wide object seen over Guernsey. I believe the pilots saw something; I will refrain from believing any analysis they provide.

And, as to this incident, if the drone is on the ground then it's cut and dried. And, if I not, I will still believe the pilot hit something. It may even have been a drone. But I'm not going to give him magical authority by virtue of being a pilot -- unless this pilot has experience of hitting drones.

0
11
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Agree on some, disagree on the rest. BAE Systems, for one, is a drone manufacture par excellence - Taranis for example. Malloy Aeronautics is another (Drone 3, bit pricey though at £1500).

I agree that all of this kerfuffle neatly co-incides with 'we must legislate to protect citizens against [insert mot du jour here]', whether it be drones, self driving cars or driverless trains.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Having tried to land a drone in the centre of a field but ending up in a hedge 200 yards away it won't be so easy for a terrorist to deliberately fly a drone into a jet engine.

If it does happen it will be an acident.

0
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

The rules are the same whether flying a drone as a hobby or otherwise.

0
1

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

@Eponymous Cowherd

By your reasoning, the next time some idiot gets done for drink-driving we can expect a ban on all cars? Or, possibly a ban on all alcohol

No, the logic there would be, Drinking and Driving at the same time is a major cause of accidents, rather than banning Drinking or Driving they simply ban Drink Driving.

In this case flying a drone near an airport may cause a fatal air accident involving a couple of hundred people so it's illegal to fly a drone in that sort of airspace, we already have the laws in place the same as we have the laws in place for drunk driving. However, with drink driving a copper can pull you over and test you to see if you're over the limit, a drone on the other hand, if it hits a plane the operator can just go "oh shit" and never be found (unless he's stupid enough to post what he did on facebook).

This begs the question, not of "what the hell do we do once it's brought a plane down?" but of "how do we prevent this in the first place, to the best of our abilities". If you can work out a method to take control of a drone which enters restricted airspace, forcing the drone to land in an area where PC Plod can get hold of it and then track down the owner, well, you'll find you have a huge customer base of airports around the world willing to purchase it (as well as prisons and other areas where they don't want drones), so figure it out, go start a kickstarter and become a really rich person.

1
1

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

The CAA run drone operators courses. I think it's 3 days and costs around £1000. I suspect you would have to have this certification before any insurance company would take you on.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

"

For everything else, there is buckshot. Let's start with cause and effect, though - I AM indeed entitled to my privacy and so are my kids, so if some jerk decides that his right to play with toys of questionable benefit (because professionals don't do such a thing) overrides my family's right to privacy he's booking either the toy or himself a date with a destructive force, which will, of course, happen "entirely by accident". It's exactly this stupid, idiotic and entirely unjustified sense of entitlement that enables these f*ckwits to endanger others.

"

Firstly, the biggest concern about shooting down drones (apart from destruction of property) is not where the spent bullet might land, but where the damaged drone might land. Imagine that you shoot down a drone in order to protect your "privacy", and that drone crashes into the windscreen of a car, causing a fatal accident. Who would be held to blame, do you suppose?

Secondly, there is no legal "right to privacy" except in certain very specific cases. Do you also feel that you have the right to shoot down a telephone linesman working at the top of a pole that overlooks your garden? Or strafe the top deck of the bus driving past your house? Or bring down the hot-air balloon drifting overhead?

If you don't like the idea that it is perfectly possible for people to look into your garden, maybe you shouldn't do anything in your garden that you would not like other people to see. Not that it's likely that the camera of the average hobbyist drone would capture anything all that clearly, but the birdwatcher who has climbed a tree with a pair of binoculars might.

0
5
Vic

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Having tried to land a drone in the centre of a field but ending up in a hedge 200 yards away it won't be so easy for a terrorist to deliberately fly a drone into a jet engine.

Well, if the drone has sufficient power, getting to an aircraft on approach won't be that difficult - the flightpath is well known, and there will be little deviation as they're all coming in on auto anyway.

For a little more accuracy, a commercial airliner will be shouting its position, direction and speed over ADS-B. It would be a trivial matter to compute an intercept course. I suspect someone would need to aim at the engine manually, but that won't be so difficult; a jet engine will suck in anything that gets near the front. I've no idea whether a drone going through the bypass would destroy the engine, but a determined terrorist could probably do the damage with a small explosive charge and a motorcycle chain.

There's a bunch of planning - and training - to make this feasible, but writing off the possibility just because it's difficult is probably a touch premature...

Vic.

6
0
Vic

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

We know it wasn't a Phantom because the software stops you flying within 5km of an airport.

5km will just about keep you out of the ATZ surrounding a small airfield, but isn't even close to covering the controlled airspace around the larger airports in the country.

Vic.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Hasn't anyone hacked the limit? I've no intention of knocking any planes out of the sky, and I live nowhere near Heathrow, but if there was a hacked firmware I'd try it out for shits and giggles.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

" the first idiot to down a plane with a drone will have them classified as a terrorist device, because it is indeed the simplest way to down a plane using materials you can simply buy in any toy shop"

The kind of drones you can buy in a toy shop won't bring down an aircraft of any size.

Ones large enough to do so are big enough to be spotted some distance off AND expensive enough that their operators are careful not to do silly things with them.

Model aircraft (and kites) don't belong near an active airport, or above 200 feet without clearance. Sellers and makers need to take on greater responsibility for their products, including limiting the range and altitude of the stuff most likely to sell to children and bored idiots.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

"There's a bunch of planning - and training - to make this feasible, but writing off the possibility just because it's difficult is probably a touch premature..."

Losing an engine on approach. Something that's trained for - because it's happened occasionally.

Do you really think it would be possible for a fleet of drones to take out two or more engines on the same aircraft? In the entire history of aviation the number of incidents where a flock of birds have managed the feat can be counted on one hand with a few fingers left over - and the most famous one involved a flock of canada geese - which for the most part are both larger and more solid than any drone (If you've ever been chased by a goose you'll know what I mean about size, ditto if you've had to carry a newly dead one.)

The comment about bird sightings around Heathrow is germane. I've seen cranes taking off from the stream adjacent to the T4 access road on a number of occasions and those things are BIG but also surprisingly hard to see once airborne. On at least half the times I've watched them, the birds have turned and flown into the aerodrome, not away from it. Presumably they wanted to get to the Other Side.

1
0
Vic

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Do you really think it would be possible for a fleet of drones to take out two or more engines on the same aircraft?

Yes.

Like I said, it's going to take some planning.

But if you really wanted to take out an aeroplane, you'd ignore the engines - a jet on approach should remain above the glide slope, so even an engines-off landing is viable, if a little difficult. The vertical stabiliser is probably the most vulnerable target, but rather difficult to break off. But like I said - chains[1] are the weapon of choice. That's the business end of the air-to-air missiles I've worked on[2].

Vic.

[1] Not quite bike chains - they tend to be a bit spikier so they pull chunks outof the target. But you could readily make something like that from a bike chain...

[2] I have little experience of anything manufactured past 1970[3]. But the difference in weaponry between then and now is mostly in the targetting and delivery, not the bit that goes bang

[3] Oooh - I've just discovered that Firestreak was still operational until 1988. The ones I've worked on are rather earlier than that :-)

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

actually they are saying now that passengers didn't hear anything, there is no sign of a collision at all. The pilot may have been entirely mistaken and there was not even a collision, let alone any drone involved!

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

Firstly, the biggest concern about shooting down drones (apart from destruction of property) is not where the spent bullet might land, but where the damaged drone might land. Imagine that you shoot down a drone in order to protect your "privacy", and that drone crashes into the windscreen of a car, causing a fatal accident. Who would be held to blame, do you suppose?

That would be me, but I'm surrounded by farmland and I like clay pigeon shooting which means that I have a reasonably good aim, and have no worries about where the pieces land. Shame that clay pigeons are hard to aim - that would be the sort of "unfortunate accident" I'd love to automate :)

Secondly, there is no legal "right to privacy" except in certain very specific cases.

Actually, there is. There is no implicit definition in UK law other than their acceptance (and now attempted withdrawal from) the UDHR, but I can comfortably take you to court for invasion of privacy. The fact that physical privacy is mostly defined by who has the better lawyer does not mean it doesn't exist. By way of example, Sienna Miller has yet to lose a single case in this matter.

Do you also feel that you have the right to shoot down a telephone linesman working at the top of a pole that overlooks your garden? Or strafe the top deck of the bus driving past your house? Or bring down the hot-air balloon drifting overhead?

None of your examples set out to specifically invade my personal sphere, whereas a drone operator will have explicitly directed the drone to my property. Not a good argument either.

If you don't like the idea that it is perfectly possible for people to look into your garden, maybe you shouldn't do anything in your garden that you would not like other people to see.

Ah, the old "you should not have anything to hide argument" - do you by any chance work for the government? Here's a counter: my children are entitled to be safe from prying eyes as well, so if you try to film them without my permission when they are in the safety of my property you *will* get to deal with security who will hold you until the police arrives (and they have some experience in this by now). You'll have a fun time explaining why out of all the places your drone could be it just happened to be above my property.

Not that it's likely that the camera of the average hobbyist drone would capture anything all that clearly, but the birdwatcher who has climbed a tree with a pair of binoculars might.

As above - when the intent is there I *will* come after you. I'm done hiding from people who want to invade my privacy, because hiding doesn't correct the issue. I intend to make invading my privacy so risky and resulting in so much crap descending on the invader that only the thoroughly stupid would even consider it, and I'll help others to do the same. Enough is enough. My home is my castle and all that - my kids should have at least one place in the world where they can just be themselves without having to worry about idiots stalking them in whatever way comes in handy.

Maybe it's worth widening your perspective to include the social aspects and consequences of what you're defending. I have no problem at all with drone operators using their toys sensibly and responsibly and I have seen some truly beautiful work (especially in extreme sports), but the Heathrow incident is indicative of the sort of idiocy that we can all do without.

You can't tell me that you will fly into someone's garden by accident. If you do so, you should not try to hide behind "it's just a hobby" and "privacy doesn't exist" - have at least the balls to admit that at that point you are quite simply an electronic stalker.

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kudos to the idiot responsible

The kind of drones you can buy in a toy shop won't bring down an aircraft of any size.

Never say never, but there's another argument. Even if you can still land with one engine down, you are causing extra risk. Losing the engine requires a correction, which at the wrong moment in time can indeed properly screw things over, training or not.

Or do you you now drive really close to other cars because your car has ABS and airbags?

You do NOT have the right to endanger others. Full stop.

1
0
Silver badge

I notice that a 60,000KG jet designed to withstand large hailstones took a 1KG object in its stride.

These devices that provide an excellent stable platform allowing folk to get some wonderful images when used properly are now falling victim to the "always one idiot" problem where 99.9% of legitimate use is undermined by the moronic minority.

The problem seems to be that all these 6 axis gyro stabilised tech with GPS return-to-home and autonomous control makes them easy to fly with minimal practice. Radio Controlled aircraft that have been around for years self-regulate because inexperienced flyers destroy a few (usually within seconds) as part of the learning process thus people don't generally get very far without help from wiser folk.

I don't understand why anyone would think that getting close up video of a jet passing would be a good idea, considering it's likely to incriminate anyone whoever decides to show it off. Faecebook generation.

34
1
Silver badge

"always one idiot"

More than one. Much more than one.

These devices that provide an excellent stable platform allowing folk to get some wonderful images. That is perfectly fine use case. Out. There. In the country side - wildlife photography. As far as any use in residential area in order for it to be legal under existing law you have to be registered with the ICO as a data controller, have your details public ally available and have them displayed on the drone in a manner which makes them READABLE by the people you take pictures of. _THIS_ is what the regs on CCTV systems say. THIS IS WHAT THE LAW IS AND IT IS NOT OPTIONAL. ALL drone operators not carrying such signs and using it anywhere where it can even theoretically observe a person without that person granting prior consent are breaking the law.

IMHO, that law should grow some extra teeth and get criminal penalties in the 5 year range attached to it including open season for taking down any drone and immediately destroying it if found non-compliant. That should be enough to deal with the problem.

8
9
Silver badge

"always one" is not meant to be literal.

These ico laws of which you speak, are they parochial or do they apply globally.

Personally I don't give a shit if someone films with a quadcopter mounted camera. They can just as well point a handheld video camera at me, or follow my car while using a dash-cam. They can also look at me using their eyes. All of those methods can be done surreptitiously, but a quad-copter generally sticks out like a sore thumb and draws attention to itself by looking very weird and sounding like a giant swarm of killer bees so is actually a bit crap at covert surveillance.

I draw the line at using them to hurt people though. That's very naughty.

22
0
Silver badge

rant

Have you read the code? It is much more sensible than that. It is also non-statutory although it is intended to aid with statutory DPA compliance.

2
0
Silver badge

"... that should be enough" or perhaps not. You cannot learn owner's identity from a drone, since they do not require registration. If you cannot do that, the owner is almost guaranteed to remain "persons unknown" and no penalties will be applied - meaning the law will never grow teeth.

Well, actually flying any object (drone or RC model) does require registration of a kind, more specifically an insurance must be taken by the pilot before flying over anything other than pilot's own private land (and in safe distance from people, buildings and vehicles). The details of this insurance could be theoretically used to identify the pilot.

One possibility to improve the matters is to change the radio protocols used for controlling both drones and RC models. These protocols are technically low-power broadcast over 2.4Ghz spectrum from pilot's radio transmitter, employing some kind of encoding (DMSS for JR, DSMX for Spektrum, FASST for Futaba) and they can be extended by their vendors, if required by law. A transmitter cannot be legally sold in a country, if it does not fulfill local requirements meaning that if a law is enacted, the vendors will have no choice but implement it. Example protocol change would be embedding (that is, technically broadcasting) insurance code of the pilot (preferably a short number or even short crypto hash, which can be looked up in a registry of some kind) alongside with any commands and also in a connection heartbeat, in an universal format which can be captured by anyone interested in identifying the pilot. Also, a drone (or RC model) should be required to store this code in a non-volatile memory which can be recovered after a crash - not such a difficult thing to implement, since they often store telemetrics already. Finally, a drone (or RC model) receiver could be required to implement an "emergency kill" command which might be issued by any legal entity in a close physical proximity to the drone and would simply shut it down (yes, causing it either drop a significant part of the altitude or crash itself - preferable alternative to having it crash an aircraft on approach to landing). Such a command would be also stored in non-volatile memory, with the code sufficient to identify "interfering" party, which would be useful for settling disputes.

This is of course quite an intrusive change, but I prefer this rather than being looked at as a potential criminal just because I like flying things remotely (in a safe manner and while holding necessary insurance).

3
0
LDS
Silver badge

A generic kill command will turn into a generic dangerous backdoor. But I agree that requiring drones to "squawk" their registration code could be useful, but I'm afraid people will find ways to stop it. Yet it will help to tell when there is a legitimate operator and a rogue one.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: rant

Have you read the code?

I have actually. I was blamed to be one of the registered DC persons a while back when I was still doing sysadmin for a living.

That is exactly why I am saying that the law should grow some teeth - that would help not just with the drones, but with "one nation under CCTV" too so we do not have crazy excesses like the Ring of Steel around Royston.

1
2
Silver badge

You can go on the web and find project instructions to build a quadcopter, it's not even very difficult.

Regulation of retail sales of transmitters and aircraft won't help a great deal.

Just put a tech-outfit to work on designing a solution that will detect and warn of the presence of unauthorised aircraft near airports and in especially within localiser coverage or climb out path. Traffic can be directed away.

Then equipment should triangulate, locate the offender after which the pdf can be hurled at them for endangering aircraft.

6
0
TRT
Silver badge

A similar method for pulse encoding a serial number in a laser pen? Some arsehole was shining one into the eyes of car, bus and lorry drivers at the top of a steep hill near me a couple of weekends ago. Set my migraine off the wanker. Should be classed as an assault.

14
0
Silver badge

"equipment should triangulate, locate the offender", well that's the hard part. Unless you have receiving equipment already in place to perform the triangulation, you are not going to be able to do this on time. The offender only needs split of a second to turn the radio off and walk away. On the other hand, no one will sell you a radio transmitter (for controlling a drone or RC model) if it does not satisfy legal requirements.

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018