Posts Tagged ‘Phantom’

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Today is the last day for public comment on the FAA’s proposed rules on drones!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Hi folks,
As you may know, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration released preliminary rules governing the operation of “small unmanned aerial systems” (“sUAS,” or more simply, drones) a couple of months ago. The FAA’s process for adopting new rules includes a period where the public is allowed to comment on the preliminary rules before they are finalized. Today is the last day of that public comment period, so if you are a photographer or filmmaker who either uses drones as one of your tools or wants to, this is your last opportunity to have your voice heard! If you want to make your voice heard and submit a comment using the easy online process, there are instructions below on how to do so, as well as a sample comment that I’ve written.

The FAA’s proposed rules cover all manner of issues relating to the flying of drones, and include, among many other proposals, the following:

1) The FAA will define all craft weighing less than 55 pounds as sUAS, and will treat all sUAS equally
2) Drone pilots will be required to take certification classes and pass a written exam to pilot drones and register their aircraft
3) Drones will be limited to flying no higher than 500 feet above ground level in altitude and no faster than 100 miles per hour
4) Drones will be required to be flown only within the pilot’s line-of-sight
5) Drones will be prohibited from flying over uninvolved bystanders

In general I think most of the rules are reasonable, however I do have a number of quibbles, so yesterday I wrote a comment which I submitted. My biggest issue with the rules as they are proposed is that popular drones such as DJI Phantom models are tiny (less than 3 pounds) compared to the 55-pound systems they are being lumped in with. Phantoms that weigh 2.2 pounds pose far less of a safety risk to the public and other aircraft than much larger and heavier systems, so it isn’t fair that they would be lumped in with these larger systems and regulated as strictly and heavily, especially considering that Phantoms are far more popular and numerous than larger, heavier (and more potentially dangerous) systems.
My comment is as follows:

In regards to Proposed Rule FAA-2015-0150, “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems”:
 
- A wide array of commercial enterprises have a legitimate business interest in flying small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS”), and an even wider array of American consumers will benefit from these business’s ability to do so.
 
- The complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards to both the operator and third parties resulting from the operation of sUAS are all far less than those of manned aircraft. Therefore the licensing and regulatory requirements to operate sUAS must be commensurately less intensive and demanding than the licensing and regulatory requirements of operating manned aircraft.
 
- It is reasonable and appropriate for both hobbyist and commercial sUAS operators to be required to fulfill licensing and regulatory requirements to operate sUAS, provided those requirements are appropriate to the level of complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards posed by sUAS, as described above. The licensing and regulatory requirements must be inexpensive and minimally time consuming for hobbyists and small commercial operators to complete.
 
- The vast majority of sUAS units in the United States weight less than 5 pounds. Therefore, the proposed rule’s equal treatment of all sUAS weighing less than 55 pounds is unrealistic and inappropriate. Hobbyist and commercial sUAS exist ranging from mere ounces in weight through and exceeding hundreds of pounds in weight, with commensurately differing levels of capability and potential safety hazard. Appropriate sUAS rules and regulations must reflect the realities of the differing levels of complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards posed by the variety of sUAS.

 

If you would like to submit a comment of your own, simply go to the regulations.gov page for this specific proposed rule using the link below, then click on the blue button on the top right that reads, “Comment Now!”:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150-0017
If you agree with the comment that I wrote, feel free to copy and paste the text above into your comment! (You can choose to include your name with your comment, or if you prefer you can submit your comment anonymously!).

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MY DRONE JUST HELPED THE POLICE FIND A FOREST FIRE

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Tonight my drone just helped the Massachusetts State Police locate a forest fire.

The Middlesex Fells is a large nature preserve near where I live. There are a couple of lakes that are very pretty, so this afternoon I took my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter (with GoPro Hero 3+ Black video camera mounted to the bottom!) to the Fells to get some pretty sunset footage. As I was setting up the drone just a few minutes before sunset, I saw smoke in the sky. I called the State Police to report a likely forest fire. The operator took my name and number and thanked me for the report, and after I got off the phone I started flying the drone.

A few minutes later, the police called me back. The officer asked if I knew more specifically where the fire was located (the Fells is pretty large and spans four different towns, and parts of it are pretty remote and are only accessible by foot). I told the officer, “I don’t, but I can find out!” I explained that I was flying a drone and could use it to locate the fire more specifically. With the officer on speakerphone I took the drone up to about 100 meters and looked around and could clearly see where the smoke was coming from, right between the southern and middle of the park’s three lakes. I told the officer, and he then gave my information to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, which operates the park and manages the land, who then directed their firefighters to the area I pinpointed.

Framegrab from the video:

Frame grab from GoPro mounted to DJI Phantom 2 showing forest fire in Middlesex Fells reservation, Sept. 22, 2014. ©2014 Chris Conti Photography. All rights reserved.

There you have it. Tonight my drone and I helped the State Police pinpoint a forest fire!
(and some people want to ban them!!)

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