Drone makers rush
...to produce 249.9 g drones for casual users to get around these limits
The EU Aviation Safety Agency has formally opined that drone hobbyists should be banned from carrying out beyond visual-line-of-sight flights. If the opinion is adopted, virtually all medium-sized hobby and prosumer drones will be caught by the new EU rules, effectively turning their pilots into criminals – unless they …
Seems fairly reasonable to me.
Model flying hat on:
Members of BMFA affiliated clubs should be able to continue flying as at present, and presumably to operate small drones on the club fiend if the club allows it.
Recreational pilot hat on:
The insistence on height limiting systems and unique serial numbers for larger drones is also good. If enforced, these rules mean that I and my fellow pilots are unlikely to meet a drone thats big/heavy enough to cause damage except in a forced landing scenario or in the final stages of landing at a known airfield, which, if it has a published ATZ, is a place where drone operation is already forbidden. However, there is still a potential problem around small private airfields, farm airstrips, microlite and gliding clubs. At least the ID number rules may give us a chance of catching persistent offenders.
You seem to be making a distinction between model aircraft and drones.
Obviously model aircraft have been around for years - I remember a group meeting for flights in a field near my house back in the 1970s, whereas drones are a more recent thing.
Aside from the fact that drones are seen as problematic and nobody mentions model aircraft so much, what is the distinction? I would have thought that a traditional radio-controlled model aeroplane could pose as much of a risk to a commercial aircraft as a drone if flown irresponsibly.
Model aircraft are generally limited to where you can fly them.
Certainly, in Germany, they can only be flown at designate model aircraft aerodromes and, I believe, you have to be a member of the club or a guest, and there are defined times and weathers where they can be flown (E.g. only during daylight).
This means you already have restrictions that see model aircraft not being able to get in the way of real aircraft.
In Germany drones are treated pretty much as model aircraft. You can only fly them at designated model airfields, over open fields or a couple of other limited places. You cannot fly them (without special permission) over residential areas, commercial and industrial areas, airfields and airports for "real" aircraft, within towns or villages or over private property (which is generally the first 2 anyway).
You cannot, for example, fly it in your back garden, because that is residential - and if you could, you would have to ensure that any onboard camera was so aimed, that it could not take images of the street or neighbouring properties (especially if there happen to be people on said properties of street).
The distinction is they never created much trouble, and very few flown them irresponsibly <G>.
Probably because flying a model aircraft is usually far more difficult than flying a drone, and it attracted mostly aviation enthusiasts which usually abode to existing flying rules, and it was better to fly them when the risk of damaging or losing them was minor. But helicopters, they also take off and land as airplanes, so they need a proper terrain (flat enough grass, or a runaway).
Moreover they usually didn't have cameras on board, so "peeping Tom" wasn't interested to fly them.
But of course they may pose the same risks - in the wrong hands an aircraft model is even more dangerous, exactly because it's more difficult to fly, and often use combustion engines. That's why they're included, but overall I think they are still a far smaller threat than drones - yet some drone capabilities like BVR flying could be added to them too, making them a bigger threat.
The distinction is they never created much trouble, and very few flown them irresponsibly <G>.
Probably because flying a model aircraft is usually far more difficult than flying a drone, and it attracted mostly aviation enthusiasts which usually abode to existing flying rules, and it was better to fly them when the risk of damaging or losing them was minor.
Since model aircraft are usually built as a labor of love and many of the builders spare no expense on detail, engines, and radio gear, they don't want to lose them to a crash or flying away. Drones... relatively cheap with minor assembly required.
@AC: "Probably because flying a model aircraft is usually far more difficult than flying a drone, ..."
... thus any irresponsible model aircraft builder has crashed and destroyed his model before it could become dangerous. Not so with RTF gyro-stabilized BVR quad-copters, that any half-idiot can buy and make fly in minutes anywhere.
Bud, there's a big difference between a FPV-Quadcopter, a model aircraft and a DJI "Drone".
However it's all the dumb sh!ts with fat wallets that spin up a DJI Drone where they shouldn't that are screwing over the rest of us.
IMO, commercially built "DJI drones" shouldn't be sold without a license and insurance. (Just like with autos) However the off the shelf, DIY quads / planes should be allowed. Reason being, the the DIY pilot usually spends a lot of time and effort in the crafts construction and thus are less likely to act like complete f@ck-tards. It's this distition that's more of a important factor in the overall safe operation of the craft, than any of the other crap I've read so far.
Beyond all of this, i feel that the current regulations are more of a focus to regulate and promote the commercial aspect of our hobby. Nevermind that it directly impacts the casual aspects of it and thus limits those that would try it.
"IMO, commercially built "DJI drones" shouldn't be sold without a license and insurance. (Just like with autos) However the off the shelf, DIY quads / planes should be allowed. Reason being, the the DIY pilot usually spends a lot of time and effort in the crafts construction and thus are less likely to act like complete f@ck-tards."
Stuff and nonsense!
I don't have a fat wallet, but I *am* a keen photographer/videographer. I saved hard for a Mavic so I could get something small enough to easily transport and add arial footage to my work. I want the minimisation that comes with bulk manufacturing, the sort of camera that's hard to source as a discrete component, software + hardware that "just works", and the confidence of having a manufacturers warranty.
I generally fly it slowly for the smoothest possible footage, and on occasion would love to be able to go out of visual range - especially if I'm e.g following a river at low level.
Just because I didn't hand-build something twice the size, with an inferior camera, and which doesn't fold down smaller than a bag of sugar... you now believe that I should be forced to pay the same price of the drone again for the only currently-available license? Screw that!
> Members of BMFA affiliated clubs should be able to continue flying as at present, and presumably to operate small drones on the club fiend if the club allows it.
Is having a 'club fiend' a requirement of the BMFA or does model flying attract that kind of person naturally?
"Seems fairly reasonable to me."
as someone who apparently flies model aircraft AND people-driven aircraft, I think your opinion should carry a lot of weight.
After a cursory look at the article, I didn't see anything really bad, either. Local authorities being able to exempt flying clubs and specific locations is probably the BEST part, since it avoids the "top down dictatorial way" of handing down regulations, which rarely (if ever) really fixes a problem everywhere, equally.
And if you can't see the thing flying, it's not a bad idea for you to need some kind of 'pilot creds' to fly a drone outside of visual range.
The FAA could do something very similar and I'd be happy with it.
There will be no such rush. A 250g drone can be blown around in a light breeze and with both present and probable-near-future battery technology it is unlikely to have the power needed to resist that. If you fly it at anything over 10m, such a breeze is almost certainly blowing on all but the most windless days.
All air activity altitude in the UK should be in feet. Our airspace maps show all the altitudes in feet based numbers, even FL ones which are really air pressure based.
As a paraglider pilot, i used feet in the UK, and then usually switched to using meters in the alps, as that was how the local air restrictions were displayed.
Slightly uneasy about any EU agency that uses the word 'Safety' in it's title: it usually means the exact opposite.
Don't know why you got so many downvotes - those of us who have followed things would agree with you. EASA started off from the position of "existing regulations weren't invented here - must have ALL new ones". And so for quite a few years they set about reinventing lots of wheels, with a mindset of "more regulation == better" - while seemingly oblivious to the fact that a 4 seat light aircraft (think Ford Ka) used for recreation doesn't need the same regulatory regime as the larger commercial transports (think inter-city trains). It's massively increased costs for almost everyone in GA, driven many businesses to the wall, and reduced flying hours for most which actively reduces safety by having pilots with less current practice.
They've also refused to adopt the UK's IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) rating for mostly political reasons - not wanting to have "country specific" ratings even though they adopted some (eg altiport ratings). Only recently have they considered anything remotely similar.
So yes, you are right to be sceptical - EASA have directly caused a reduction in safety in GA (General Aviation), the light end of the market.
> why EASA are giving the height limit in meters when as far as I can tell everyone they regulate uses feet for height, altitude, and flight levels.
Not so. Different flying communities in different countries, even in EASA-land, use different units. E.g., glider pilots in the continent tend to use metres and km/h while motor pilots in the exact same bit of airspace may be using feet and knots. In the UK, recreational aviation tended to use QFE while commercial flying was strictly QNH.
I know hardly anything about drones, but I have a feeling they use metres as their preferred vertical units.
'QFE while commercial flying was strictly QNH.'
QFE and QNH are both measured in feet they just use a different reference point. QFE is generally used in the circuit as the altimeter reads 0 on the runway, QNH is used everywhere else as it reads height above the sea which is what obstacles are measured from. Once you're above 3000' (varies by country) you go onto the standard pressure setting which makes it easy for ATC to coordinate everyone.
Looking at it, people who talk to ATC seem to use feet, which makes sense as the they're a useful size, eg 1000 feet gives decent separation and is easy to read multiples of on an altimeter. Stacking aircraft at increments of 300m wouldn't be as intuitive to fly.
"I know hardly anything about drones, but I have a feeling they use metres as their preferred vertical units." It's the beauty of having purely software defined instrumentation that changing between one and the other is just a matter of changing a setting in the config menu. I dare say people just change that to what they are comfortable with.
To confuse the issue further, the CAA mashes imperial and metric together when defining VFR viz and weather minima:
Below FL 100:
When IAS 250 kts or more:
- 8 km flight visibility
- 1500m horizontally from cloud
- 1000ft vertically from cloud
When IAS 250 kts or less:
- 5 km flight visibility
- 1500m horizontally from cloud
- 1000ft vertically from cloud
I have been in a glider that had ASI reading in knots, an altimeter reading in feet and a variometer reading in metres/sec.
I guess that the UK would be required to adhere to these guidelines or else EU flights won't fly in UK aispace ?
Yet another example of the faux "sovereignty" the UK is supposed to reclaim.
(I write that as a someone who wants to Remain in the EU. But it highlights what an empty victory "leaving" is).
We have announced that we want to remain in the EU air safety system, so if we manage to sign the deal we want then Brexit will change nothing, except we may or may not get a say in future changes to the regulation depending on how good a deal we get.
If we end up with no deal and a hard Brexit by default, then we could do whatever we wanted.
Remember that the EU does not have to agree any deal, they can just point at us and laugh. And the recent trade deal with Canada was delayed because one region in Belgium opposed it. Every EU country had to approve it, and the Belgian rules meant that every region in Belgium had veto power over the Belguim government's approval of the treaty, which in turn had to delay the entire treaty until they could be persuaded to change their minds. Presumably the EU-UK deal may be delayed/vetoed in the same way.
"and the Belgian rules meant that every region in Belgium had veto power over the Belguim government's approval of the treaty"
That's not quite correct. You are implying that there is "a" Belgium government, which a regional group held up.
Belgium in fact has no less than six governments, all of which are legally equal, three cover geographic areas (Walloon, Flanders and Brussels) the others cover communities (French, German and Dutch speaking).
So what happened was the Belgium government objected, and the process was held up until that was resolved.
If the UK ever devolves actual power to Scotland, Wales and NI, then exactly the same thing could happen. But Whitehall is never going to give away power, so I don't expect any equality of governance any time soon.
Oh, and while the Belgium system might seem screwy, they did manage to deal with the financial crises best, since their various governments couldn't actually agree on what to do, they did nothing, and turns out that's much better than austerity.
> I guess that the UK would be required to adhere to these guidelines or else EU flights won't fly in UK aispace
They would, and vice-versa too, but it would make things a lot more expensive / complicated for everyone concerned, and with the EU-US agreement from a few years back having resulted in rather close EASA-FAA cooperation and serious harmonisation of the rules across the Atlantic (nowadays we even tend to use the same terminology for the same things), it would be a death sentence for the UK aviation industry if some bright spark politician decided to come up with their own rules because of whatever posturing their public relations people may advise.
Most of what EASA is proposing as far as airspace restrictions here is ALREADY illegal in most countries. BVLOS specifically is ALREADY illegal in most countries including Britain, see: http://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Recreational-drones/Recreational-drone-flights/
Article 94 small unmanned aircraft, paragraph 3:
(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
Then the comment:
"El Reg predicts that any BVLOS ban will be effectively ignored until it becomes convenient to enforce it against particular people, or categories of people – which is the foundation of a bad law."
I really don't get what you are trying to imply here? Who are these "particular people or categories of people" you are alluding to?
The problem in general is that enforcing BVLOS banns is practically impossible. Unless you happen to catch someone with their goggle on, or manage to track a drone to it's landing zone and apprehend the person flying it, there's nothing lawmakers can do.
This Opinion really isn't that bad. As far as EASA Opinions go it's actually quite readable and understandable (in direct opposition to some of the drivel they've written before about the new ATO regulations for instance)
Most relevant to most people will be the following passages:
It was decided to further subdivide operations in the ‘open’ category into three subcategories to allow different types of operations without the need for an authorisation. The subcategories were defined according to the risks posed to persons and objects on the ground, keeping in mind that the operations would all be below 120 m in height and far from aerodromes. These subcategories are:(Opinion No 01/2018, page 8)
- A1: flights over people but not over open-air assemblies of persons;
- A2: flights close to people, while keeping a safe distance from them;
- A3: flights far from people.
And a little bit further on:
Model aircraft are within the scope of this Opinion since, pursuant to the definition of a UA in the new Basic Regulation, a model aircraft is a UA. It is, however, recognised that activities conducted within model aircraft clubs and associations have good safety records due to their high levels of organisation, their procedures and their safety culture.
For this reason, the proposed regulation allows competent authorities to issue an operational authorisation to model aircraft clubs and associations, in which they may define deviations from it.
In addition, this proposal offers two other possibilities to model aircraft pilots who do not intend to
join a model aircraft club or association. They may:
- operate in specific zones designated by MSs, in which MSs can alleviate the requirements of the
rules proposed in this Opinion; or
- operate in subcategory A3 of the ‘open’ category.
Operations in subcategory A3 may be conducted with privately built UAS, or UAS in class C3 or C4. This last class was specifically developed to address model aircraft available on the market, imposing a minimum set of technical requirements and focusing mainly on providing the remote pilot with operational instructions issued by the UAS manufacturer, as well as on raising the remote pilot’s awareness of the EU regulations through consumer information. This approach will create a negligible additional burden for UAS manufacturers. All model aircraft in use before the date of entry into force of this proposed regulation will also be able to be operated afterwards, still using one of the three options explained above (i.e. to be member of a model aircraft club or association, to operate in designated areas, or to follow the operational limitations for subcategory A3), without the need for any modification to the model aircraft.
In other words, keep it in sight (already law) and don't fly near built up areas, over crowds or where you could reasonably endanger uninvolved people (further explanation in the Opinion, 126.96.36.199. , page 18) which should just be f(*îng common sense.
Again, the rules proposed are pretty clear, and don't go way above and beyond what is already law in most EU countries. My main gripe would be with the limitations they are imposing on control electronics and where they draw the line between stabilisation/auto-hover features and "autonomous operation"/autopilot. NOT with the airspace restrictions that our esteemed Reg hack seems to be focused on.
> It is, however, recognised that activities conducted within model aircraft clubs and associations have good safety records due to their high levels of organisation, their procedures and their safety culture.
I haven't read the Opinion but if it does say that, I am glad that the model flyers get a little mention in despatches, as it were. I've never flown a model aircraft nor would I be capable of flying one but I used to be a commercial pilot and I'm still actively involved in commercial air transport, and I've always held those guys in high esteem and appreciated their enthusiasm for their hobby. Many of my former colleagues were big-time model A/C anoraks when they were not flying the full-size ones for a living, too. :-)
It does actually say that. The the bits in the <blockquotes> are a direct copy-paste from the EASA document.
In my experience so far the EASA boards involved in GA and "small" aviation aren't actually the enemy. Many of them share our enthusiasm for all things flying and a lot of EASA regulations are actually not that bad. Some of it is even good. There's some shitty stuff in there, and some rather incomprehensible stuff, but there's also a lot of good regulations too. Often also more clearly worded and better explained than national laws currently in force.
What is the reasoning against a home owner using a drone to inspect parts of his/her property that are difficult to examine from the ground (eg roofs, gutters etc)? This is banned by the no flying over residential property rule. In my opinion the rule should be amended to no flying over residential property without the permission of the property owner.
"In my opinion the rule should be amended to no flying over residential property without the permission of the property owner."
I think the current rule in the UK is no flying within X metres of buildings without the permission of the owner. So unless you also own all your near-neighbours' properties you cannot fly. (Perhaps someone can tell me the value of X.)
The rationale is probably partly that when a drone goes out of control it doesn't necessarily crash into the building it was inspecting, and partly that a drone with a camera doesn't need to be right over a property in order to invade privacy.
It is worse than that - no flying within 50m of any property not owned or controlled by the drone operator (even if you have permission from the other property owners!!).
The current rules for hobby use can be summed up as - you cannot legally fly a drone in the vast majority of the UK unless you own a large estate or farm and confine your drone to that estate or farm.
(See https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/feature/gadget/where-fly-drone-in-uk-3620507/ for more details.)
"you cannot legally fly a drone in the vast majority of the UK"
...and that's why the law will be universally ignored - as all laws impossible to realistically comply with always silently are - and will get enforced opportunistically, as a blunt object to throw against whoever the fuzz happens to take a dislike to, exactly as mentioned. Let's be very clear about this - IT'S NOT "IF", IT'S "WHEN". Also, I consider "go join a club if you want to fly" as nothing but an unapologetic middle finger and definitely reply in kind.
I am quietly confident the plod can't tell a joule from Jules Holland, and I doubt I can do much better. However, I have a good idea what 1.2kg hitting me at 18m/s would feel like, and I don't want it.
I have flown a small drone (under 250gms) , as have others of my family, and it is pretty hard to predict who will get hit next.
well, not literally "nano", but since we (well, "the boys") already have these:
and the race to get down in size is on, as usual, civilian (commercial) application will follow. I wonder how soon we'll see (or not ;) knife missiles. Ian Banks would have been a billionaire to have patented round corners for these :/
Anything under 250g or uses under 5" propellers is all but unflyable in winds above 5-10 kpm.
These craft simply don't have the thrust or battery life to make flying outdoors worth a hobbyists time.
Granted there are some exceptions but commercially not many, unless you build it yourself. Even then I'm sure there is something to will get you cited.
For the article in the first place and a well-written and informed summary of the Opinion.
It doesn't affect me or my professional activity directly, in principle, but drone regulations are something that we keep an eye on and we should have caught but would have missed if it weren't for your article.
As someone who currently flies drones in a country with rules that are effectively identical to the EASA rules I can confidently say that the biggest issue is the requirement to remain clear of people. Where I am that requirement is to stay at least 30m from anyone who is not directly operating the drone. If my kid is standing next to me watching me fly I can't fly it within 30m of me. That starts to really limit your ability to take pictures of your family on holiday and starts to bring into question the reason why you would consider buying most camera oriented drones that are on the market now.
Read the EASA rules. They clearly state uninvolved persons. Which means if your son is actively watching and enjoying it, he's involved and you can fly closer. These rules are clearly intended to avoid accidentally braining some unsuspecting sod from behind with a drone. And to be honest I am all for that.
The right to operate drones below 400ft should continue to be universal with area exclusions, not just restricted to permissive areas.
It sounds like the EU is trying hard to give freedom-seekers more incentive to leave. By what democratic process did member nations consult their electorate to grant this power to the EU? What acts in local law grant the EU sovereignty over our airspace, specifically below 400ft?
They're not. READ THE BLOODY OPINION. It's only 42 pages, half of which can be skimmed over relatively fast because they are uninteresting to the average civilian.
And it's ALREADY restricted. With good bloody reason. There are plenty of irresponsible drone flyers out there, sooner or later someone is going to get hurt. These rules are intended to make people THINK before they fly. They are NOT that draconian.
Also, when the UK joined EASA (which is distinct from the EU) it pretty much enacted in law that anything EASA decided would become local law. The democratic process followed is the normal voting proces for the UK. The country voted in the politicians that decided to enact the EASA rules.
This is a tremendous loss for our hobby simply because those that are new to it and not part of a club will be caught largely unaware. This will lead to folks breaking a law that will only be enforced at the convenience of the local government. It doesn't matter the circumstances involved or if anyone is at fault. This law will be enforced by police that have no idea about RC and thus will cite you simply for the appearance of wrongdoing.
In the EU our hobby will quickly fall out of the mainstream, as casual flyers will give it up rather than risk being hassled. Meanwhile the rest of the world applies something called common sense and continues on
while wondering why the EU is so thick headed.
Like the US? Where they are applying rules that are from what I've seen more strict than what is being proposed by EASA?
Again, there aren't that many restrictions in this Opinion that aren't already in law in most places in the EU!
Our hobby isn't mainstream now, and it bloody well shouldn't be. The problems seen now are exactly BECAUSE people are not thinking about what they are doing and just bumbling into it. Going back to RC being a hobby for people who bother learning at least some basic stuff isn't a bad thing!
And on top of all this, think about how your local politicians comment about drones and safety and how they would be likely to implement these rules. People should realize for all the whinging they are doing that most likely these rules are MUCH milder than the UK (or Dutch, or French, or German) politicians would come up with on their own.
Just thought that regulating drones down to the level of the versions that are basically flying toys also highlights that we need to regulate other flying toys that can hurt people when they go out of control.
One flying toy that is a particular problem based on my many run ins with such objects during my life is the football. These things are avaliable to the general public and can be operated by persons of any age. They are completley unregulated and do not require registration numbers or even training of the operators before use.
They are capable of flying through the air at high speed, with no return to home functions or any operator controll of any kind. Completley ballistic they emit no noise to alert any other members of the public (i'm thinking of a park here) that they are approaching which can easily and frequently result in the football hitting said person. Although unlikley to cause much damage to an adult they can be pretty nasty things for a lillte child to run into, spoiling their right to a safe recreational in the park.
Responsible football users restrict their unplanned high speed balistic flights to certain areas marked out for such activity however these rules are not always enforced depending on local park rules allowing almost anyone to operate unplanned flights (or even high speed ground travel).
Other toys that cause concern are Kites.
These devices have the added feature of having a tether to the operator allowing for a degree of control, especially if they have 2 tethers, aka a stunt kite. However, inexperienced users or damaged Kites can become a serious hazard to other Kites and persons on the ground. The Kite can malfunction, falling to the ground without being much of a threat due to its light weight and slow decent however some circumstances can cause the kite to descend rapidly accelerating to the ground like a javelin. Should the operator regain control and the Kite avoids the ground at the last second, travelling at speed parralel to the ground causes the tether to become a fast travelling, almost invisible and silent garrotte cord, sweeping around an arc of at least a few degres where anyones neck may be present.
Seriously though. The world has little dangers like these and we all have to learn to avoid them or deal with them. That is the nature of the world. Tripping over on a stick on the pavement or being attacked by a hungry seagull should not cause the culling of all seagulls and burning of trees. We learn to look where we are walking or keep an eye out for the ravenous ice cream loving seagulls. I'm not worried about a toy drone falling through the air anymore than I am worried about the idiots who shoot footballs in my direction. At least I have a better chance of hearing the drone coming!
Note I am not including anything over a toy level drone. A DJI Mavic is more of a tool, not a toy yet a Hubsan X4 is more of a higher end toy.
You forgot to mention that footballs are unerringly attracted to windows, or rather through windows. Broken glass is it's own safety hazard. Now that I have mentioned Windows, we have the IT angle. Breaking Windows must be my most favourite pastime, I do it so often.
Speaking of broken glass, and kites, I'm reliably informed that in some places there are organised battles between kite flyers, where the control strings have a section near the kite covered in tiny bits of glass. The object is to use the sharp bits of glass to cut through the control strings of your opponent.
"My problem with footballs is when they are on the ground and some fiend has filled it with concrete."
Your fiendish footballers are doing it wrong. Though I know nothing about football, despite being born in Melbourne. Perhaps that's a valid tactic when the other side has a free kick?
I used to build and fly model rockets many a decade ago. Built using the same tools, methods, and materials that model aircraft where built with, only using small solid rocket engines instead of small internal combustion engines. And no radio control, there was no control of the rocket once you hit the ignition button. The rocket engines where small tubes you bought from the model shops you bought the rest of the stuff from, and slotted into the rocket body, ignited electrically. Some of the engines had a delay fuse and eject charge at the other end for ejecting the nose cone and deploying the parachute. Sold as kits, or designed your own for the more advanced model rocketeers.
Back in my day you could have a camera in the bigger ones, that took a single shot of the ground once the eject charge for the parachute triggered. No doubt these days you could send live video back to ground level.
If done correctly, and all of the kit instructions, engine wrappers, and magazines heavily emphasised doing things correctly, you where out in the middle of a large empty field, not in any flight paths, had plenty of space downwind for the rocket to land hanging from it's parachute, within an easy to get to retrieval zone, used a safety key on your ignite button, with plenty of distance between people and the launch pad, etc.
The only control you had once they where in flight was to yell at people to get the hell out of the way if things went wrong, or send someone to call an ambulance if things went horribly wrong (pre-dated mobile phones, and usually not done in built up areas with nearby phones). If things only went mildly wrong, your "control" was figuring out how to get it down from what ever tree ate it.
Often the object of the exercise was to how high you could get it. I seem to recall getting about a kilometer regularly. Height limits are gonna take most of the fun out of that.
The UKRA (Rocketry Association) have regular meets around the country (a massive field near Cambridge springs to mind).
Regular altitude top-outs at 6000 feet plus....
They will have a NOTAM declared to warn pilots to keep away, for the day, and also you don't launch if you can hear a 'plane.
The high power rocket enthusiast can safely be placed in the same bag as the model 'plane enthusiast - these things, whilst carrying massive kinetic energy, are hugely expensive to build and to fly. You don't want it landing in a tree or in an Airbus.
(Or deploying the chute at 6000' and getting caught in the breeze and never being seen again... IGMC, it's the one with the pyrodex in the pocket)
Thing is, it's great that they feel need to stomp on our hobby over unfounded fears. (sic) However it's another thing entirely when local officials are clueless until someone decides to cite you. This is just setting some poor sap up to break EU law but only at the convenience of the local government shall it be enforced.
IMO this is almost just like a speed trap...
Post a sign somewhere not so obvious saying to slow down. Just a few meters before where cops and cameras are hiding waiting to pounce. This doesn't give the driver a chance to react and only serves to milk the common man / woman for no other reason than to augment the tax base.
I've the feeling that someone is going to be side-swiped over just such a situation, never mind the circumstances involved. When it does it, the situation will come to bite the EU (what's left of it) in the arse once they realize how dam stupid this law is.
(gets off soap box)
The only option available right now is the PfCO "Permission for Commercial Operation" license. This is obviously designed, and priced, for people doing... well... commercial operations. Think movie making, building inspection, estate agents, etc.
The price of this is about to be raised to £247, plus another £185 every year. Most places offering training and the "operational assessment" to get this qualification will add their own fees, taking it to around £1000. If you're flying something like the Mavic Pro, and a friend offers you a few quid to get some shots of her house, then you have to DOUBLE what you paid for the thing in the first place so that you can legally do so.
To put that into perspective... If you want to travel to that house in a 3 tonne lump of steel travelling at 70mph, if you pass the test first time, you'll have paid £125 + lessons with no annual repeat for the privilege and you'll potentially be bringing over 500kJ of energy to any potential collision. Even if you factor in vehicle tax, it's not hard to end up paying under £185/year.
So I'll tentatively welcome this legislation, IF it means the introduction of a certificate with sane pricing for those of us who aren't flying our drones primarily as a business venture. Something where the ratio of license cost to potential risk is the same as that for a car. Something that allows compensation up to a certain limit, where my mate can pay me £20 to check out his guttering without making me a criminal.
In what kind of parallel universe is it *sensible* for the average person to fly these things out of line of sight?
What kind of dunderheaded mouth-breathing cretin *cannot* see the potential dangers presented by them being in charge of, but not able to see, a flying object with the impact equivalent of several house bricks?
This is not an assault on people's liberties. This is society attempting to protect the majority against the actions of the brainless.
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