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Old March 16th, 2009, 11:12 PM   #1
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RC aerials illegal says FAA

Here's the short version: If you are shooting video or photography using RC aircraft whether it's fixed-wing or heli and it's for commercial or promotional purposes it's illegal. Period. That is unless you have what's called a COA or have undergone a very lengthy and costly certification process.

In point of fact, two well known RC-aerial operators (names withheld) have been given "cease and desist" orders from the FAA and been threatened with a $10k per-day fine for non-compliance. Both of these operators are now shut-down and their websites pulled.

At issue are three very important points:

First, the FAR's or Federal Air Regulations that specifically apply to RC aircraft - or UAV's - for the purpose of commercial aerial photography has not been widely disseminated by the FAA or any other governing authority. It remains a mostly unknown but very volatile piece of information.

Second, the FAA contends that unless the entity wanting to use RC-aerials is under the auspices of a "C.O.A." - which is only issued for government or research facilities for the purposes of search and rescue, military ops, law enforcement or scientific research then that company must: A) Certify the aircraft just as if it were full-sized; B) Obtain formal operator training and also become certified as a UAV operator; C) Carry the appropriate insurances; D) Follow and maintain certain airspace rules and restrictions mandated by the FAA.

Three: The airframe and operator certification process the FAA is requiring does not formally exist anywhere currently. No forum, school or government agency has been created - nor the curriculum - to facilitate these certifications. It's a "chicken before the egg" scenario, for lack of a better term.

So, if you are using your RC heli or airplane to take video or shoot stills for your clients or even just to promote your own company you're doing so without FAA approval and you're subject to being shut down and potentially fined. End of story.

For those who are already shooting RC aerials for commercial purposes: Stop what you're doing and read over this information before you make one more flight. For those who are intending to get into this relatively new market: Don't. Until this gets sorted out by the FAA and whatever organization gets formed to manage this it's a non-starter as you'll be entering into an illegal operation from day one.

Enclosed are a few documents which have been given to me directly from the FAA. Read them carefully so you can understand the mandates the FAA has created.

Lastly, contact the FAA representative directly who is in-charge (so to speak) about this issue and hear about it from the horses mouth:

Randy Willis
Senior Analyst
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (AJR-36)
FAA Headquarters
800 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20591
Ph: 202-267-8565
Fax: 202-267-5809
randy.ctr.willis@faa.gov

NOTE: One of the PDF's I've attempted to upload about this issue will not load for some reason. Have Mr. Willis forward you a copy in email directly - that document is: AVIATION SAFETY UNMANNED AIRCRAFT PROGRAM OFFICE AIR-160

Please pass on this information to anyone you know who is now or wants to get into RC aerials for commercial work.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf FAA Order 8130.34.pdf (214.4 KB, 2849 views)
File Type: pdf UA Operations in the NAS.pdf (42.2 KB, 1725 views)
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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:02 PM   #2
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Is there a trade organization that can represent RC manufacturers and aerial shooters? Individual voices aren't as strong as a coalition.

Just as the FCC has unlicensed bands for low power communications, the FCC should set limits for unlicensed RCs. I would think that they could be banned within a given radius of an airport, and limited in size and altitude above land. There should be limits, but they should be reasonable.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #3
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RC aerials illegal says FAA -- revisited

I wasn't able to post in the thread where this was being discussed so I decided to start this thread. I suggest reviewing the documents cited by the original poster in the original thread.

One thing I didn't see mentioned in the original thread is the FAA apparently is examining the use of "model" aircraft for "commercial" purposes and is inviting comment. Here's an excerpt from one of the cited documents (UA Operations in the NAS.pdf Policy section ):

"Feedback regarding current FAA
policy for Unmanned Aircraft Systems
can be submitted at FAA: Home
uas."

I interpret the current policy as it currently is written to mean if I have a monetary gain as a direct or indirect result of flying my "model" aircraft my use falls under the "commercial" aspects of the policy and must first have appropriate certification. Given the nature of the certification process this to me is grossly unreasonable for most people and businesses.

I believe in order to preserve some freedom in this area we need to provide some of this feedback so that the FAA is aware of the severe limitations the policy imposes on the small businessman. In my opinion limiting "commercial" use in the manner described in the policy statement means that only the deep pockets ventures will be able to fund the certification process.

I accepted the FAA's invitation to provide feedback and encourage others to do so as well. Most of us are small businessmen or would like to be. Let us be heard and understood!

Steve
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Old March 19th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #4
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Merged and re-opened... thanks,
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 07:42 PM   #5
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To be honest, this is one of those cases that will most likely not be resolved for several years with the final result settled by adjudication through class action lawsuit.

Unnecessary,preemptive regulation is quickly turning this country into the second most powerful nation on the planet.

When was the last time you picked up a newspaper and read, "Person(s) killed by RC helicopter crash"?
I think the FAA's time would be better spent trying to stop little children from being killed in air ambulance crashes as 2008 was one of the worst on record.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #6
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Our company is pondering getting into this business. We have found a turnkey setup from a US based company to get us started. I posed this question to the owner. Here was his response. Just wanted to toss it out there.



This gets posted about every week by companies wanting to keep people out of the market. Been done for over two years now.

To keep it simple we are not flying UAV's. We are flying RPV's line of site aircraft no higher than 400ft.

We are able to fly then have our video shot used in a court of law. Regulations are coming in late 2013 stated by the commission to over see the ARC/FAA/UAV division. Basically we were told by Davis's office they are working on a self regulate program to be put in place then to have everyone flying commercially register.

There is no law anywhere stopping anyone from flying. If what he posted were true every rep for every RC company that's paid a dime to fly anything from a 6" foam plane to a 40% aircraft would be breaking a law due to the fact they are compensated for flying RC aircraft.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #7
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Due to numerous inconsistencies in the FAA's handling of this matter, key members of the RC aerial photography community have decided to not leave our future in the hands of competing special interests.

The decision has been made to move forward with a class action lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the matter of line-of-site RC aerial photography for compensation or hire.

This class will pursue certification and contends that current FAA policies are unjustifiable and inhibits AP operators ability to pursue legal commerce.

Those who wish to participate in this effort can PM me for additional details. Those engaged in this process will have opportunities to provide input and guidance and will receive regular progress updates. If certified, the class plans to seek both regulatory relief and, if possible, compensation for lost/reduced earnings.

No additional information or details regarding this matter will be provided publicly going forward.


Wendell
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Old March 24th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Adkins View Post
Those who wish to participate in this effort can PM me for additional details.
We don't use a Private Messaging system on DV Info Net -- you'll have to provide an email
address; the best format for this venue is to break it up, for example: chris at dvinfo dot net
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Old March 24th, 2009, 04:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
We don't use a Private Messaging system on DV Info Net -- you'll have to provide an email
address; the best format for this venue is to break it up, for example: chris at dvinfo dot net
FWIW Chris, I interpret PM as private email as well as the messaging system we don't have in place. I always suggest putting a valid email in the profile and letting people click on the name to send an email to the poster.

I guess I just broadly categorize private messaging as anything not available to the general public for viewing.

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Old March 24th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #10
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To be included in the list, please provide a return email to freedom 4 AP at g mail dot com.

Thanks,
Wendell
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Old March 27th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #11
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I am very pleased with the number of commercial AP operators that have asked to become members of the class action. Many of the most prominent key players are now engaged.

Next we will be going to the Federal Judge to ask for class "certification" (the determination of a common claim and proper representation). This is a case when more is better so I respectfully request that anyone who has performed AP for hire (or would have if not for fear of FAA reprisal) to join the class. No fee is involved. All we ask at this point is a verifiable name and address be sent to:

freedom 4 ap at gmail dot com

Many thanks,

Wendell
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Old August 5th, 2009, 11:41 AM   #12
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Email sent Wendell!
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Old August 9th, 2012, 12:52 PM   #13
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Re: RC aerials illegal says FAA

Did anything ever come of this?
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Old August 9th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #14
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Re: RC aerials illegal says FAA

The final ruling hasn't been made yet. The only RC Aerial Photo/video allowed is for hobbyists and not for hire.

The FAA has another 18 or so months before the deadline imposed upon them to publish the rules.
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Old August 10th, 2012, 03:04 AM   #15
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Re: RC aerials illegal says FAA

So most people find a friend with an aerial cam with RF link to ground, being used for fun - but then they record the output on their equipment, and simply ask their friend for permission to use their amateur footage in a programme, afterwards? No crime committed - and the permission coming after the event can't change an amateur event into a pro one? Sounds an easy get-out?

Wouldn't work in the UK of course, here R/C people have had restrictions on model weight for years, and all radio air to ground kit is also regulated and always has been. Here real aircraft have to keep at least 500ft above people and 'things' - but it's often relaxed, unofficially.
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