back to article US watchdog lobs balls of red tape at spy-in-the-sky drones

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have laid out a new set of rules to guide businesses that use small drones for imaging. The Part 107 Rule [PDF] sets out the guidelines for commercial flight of drones weighing less than 55lbs for activities such as shooting photos of an …

  1. vir

    I would love

    To see a Phantom 3 get up to 35,000 feet over Io.

  2. vir

    I do take exception to this part though: "A hobbyist taking a picture with a UAS presents no more of a risk than a professional photographer doing the same."

    I think that unlikely. A hobbyist with a POS $500 UAS is going to fly differently than a professional photographer with a $5000 UAS carrying a $3000 camera and a $1500 lens. When a large portion of your business's infrastructure is on the line, you tend to be a little more careful.

    1. Dadmin

      Not necessarily. The hobbyist could be more fearful of his/her purchase, $500 is a lot to some people. And on the flip-side, the pro could have insurance, and a company that can deduct the loss of a expensive drone on their taxes. You never can tell. I flew an semi-expensive drone a few month past and with more time I could fly it as well or better than any pro. They are just not that tricky to learn, and there's only two sticks and some knobs. It's not a moon rocket. If you know how to operate an R/C vehicle, and how it steers going away and coming at you, you can pilot a drone as well as, well, a drone pilot. It's the same damn thing. It is known.

  3. JBowler

    Written by a lawyer not a computer programmer

    I read it this morning (west cost time), piece of ****. As a computer programmer I would never let a piece of software go with an unresolved reference (well, ld would stop me):

    * First-person view camera cannot satisfy "see-and-avoid" requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.

    Yeah, yeah, US Telegraph English, but I can forgive that. The problem is that the scare-quoted phrase not only is not defined, but the five letter sequence "avoid" only occurs once in the document. Obviously some person with a level stick for brown stuff inserted this at the last moment and equally obviously no one actually proof read the document.

    FAA, get some computer people and fire all the lawyer people. Oops, you are all lawyers, set to be presidents yet.

    Bottom line you cannot analyze this as a logical, consistent, document. All it actually says is "you will be a pilot we currently approve or you will pass a test which maybe, sometime in the distant future, we will get round to organizing at great expense, to you."

    Now I am actually a fully conformant regulated hobbyist drone; I have my card to prove it. Sorry, drone operator, too much beer. But I can't, apparently, fly my hobbyist drone above my own property to look at my own trees because I am also a commercial grower of trees.

    So I'll sign up for the test, for which I will probably have to drive 1000 miles (can't fly anywhere from where I live), I'm already vetted by the TSA and would I like to be 16 again [not: much more fun being 55].

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: Written by a lawyer not a computer programmer

      Government rules are usually written by lawyers since they should, (might perhaps) get the legally water tight wording somewhere near right, well sadly they don't ensure success and many amateur rule writers don't always do such a perfect job either. I agree that what legal people lack in clarity they make up for in obfuscation.

      Your 'hobby' activity is enjoyment of your drone, your 'business' appears to be tree growing.

      However I am fairly certain that flying your own (amateur) drone under 400 feet and not doing so for payment does not count as a business drone operator. It may well be best not to pay yourself for drone operation and, if you really want to make a point, fly only when you are 'off the clock'.

      Or are you thinking you should be Tree Scanning Drones For Hire Inc? Given the circumstances that might not be a great idea.

  4. jimdandy

    .22 caliber

    Gee, I think I smell lawsuits in the air. What happens when my buddy's well-trained falcon attempts to protect his owner/family from the aerial invader? Laugh if you want, but drones crossing private property lines and invading peoples personal privacy are going to be a problem in the USA regardless of the FAA/DOT rush to make Their Owners happy.

    I foresee a significant interest in home-made EMP generators (Oceans Eleven anyone?) and the fallout thereof. AKA pissed-off neighbors whose Air Conditioning went out in the middle of 100F temps in the summer, for some strange reason.

    Go fly a kite.

  5. Thought About IT

    The least they could do

    A 55 lb drone travelling at 100 mph could do fatal damage to an aircraft, so it's vital that they are restricted to different airspace. Because they don't appear to move relative to each other, it's hard enough spotting a light aircraft on a collision course, never mind a small drone, so these regulations are the least the FAA could do. I think that eventually they will be obliged to carry transponders which broadcast their location, so that they can avoid each other, as well as alerting other aircraft. Two 55 lb drones which collided with each other could make a nasty dent in anything they hit on the ground.

    1. Chris Parsons

      Re: The least they could do

      Surprised to see the downvote. A birdstrike is bad enough. A drone flying into you would not be good news.

    2. W4YBO

      Re: The least they could do

      A pair of 10 lb Canada Geese can do the same. See "Miracle on the Hudson."

  6. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    I take it these regulations do not apply to the 'other' UAVs - Global Hawk, Predator, Reaper, etc ...

  7. PacketPusher

    >>Additionally, the drones may only fly outdoors (not inside a covered structure or a vehicle) and are not >>allowed to fly over any individual who is not aware of the flight and recording.

    So, the FAA gets to decide what I do INSIDE my building?

    1. vir

      For profit, under part 107 rules, yes. If you're not getting money for it, they don't care; if you have a 333 exemption, you just need to do a safety assessment to make sure you're not going to kill anyone.

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