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Old June 11th, 2013, 06:03 AM   #16
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Re: Aerial cam risks

The facts speak otherwise. Time and again you hear of pilots pressured to act against their better judgement to fly in bad weather in order to make a delivery promised by a specific time. Given the competition for pilot slots they are often willing to take unnecessary risks in order to keep their jobs.

In the news scenario I described there are a combination of risk factors that make see and avoid difficult. The PIC of a GA aircraft may have a difficult time seeing a UAV due to its size and the UAV is remotely piloted making its pilot less capable of seeing and avoiding. I don't fly a UAV, just fixed wing, but I don't see how a UAV pilot would have the same sense of space that a PIC would have in making coordinated and accurate avoidance maneuvers in reaction to another aircraft operating along a constantly changing threat vector, e.g. a descending and turning helicopter, or how a rapid evasive maneuver might affect the stability of the UAV.

There has been some mention of probabilities of occurrence. Anyone who has done basic risk analysis knows you take both probability and potential impact into account when judging whether to mitigate risk. The potential impact of a collision with a GA aircraft over a populated area is high. Therefore it only makes sense to implement measures to reduce such risk. Right now that means restricting UAV activities. Perhaps in a couple of years it will mean UAVs are required to constantly broadcast their altitude and position.
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Old June 11th, 2013, 03:34 PM   #17
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Re: Aerial cam risks

When there are news events and police and news heli's are in close proximity,.they are in CONSTANT contact with GROUND CONTROL and the other pilots....

I don't see a UAV operator (ever thought of the effects of a "rubbernecker with a drone"?) being "connected", and that would be a minimal necessity if there were EVER to be UAV's mixing it up with full size aircraft.

I don't think these tiny choppers would even show up on radar, and visual acquisition is probably almost impossible. Combine this with the aforementioned "single angle" limited POV that the UAV operator likely would have, and avoiding a collision is problematic...

SURE there are LOTS of places and times where operating a heli for AP is of minimal risk... but as the costs drop, and more people have access (I saw a "Christmas lights" news segment with feed from a GoPro on a heli in the DARK (any nav lights on one of these??), there ARE risks that "John Q.UAV Pilot" with little or no flight "training" won't even begin to think of...

There are risks in getting out of bed in the morning... but you also can't regulate STUPID, or we wouldn't be able to do ANYTHING.... just because there's a bonehead out there somewhere whol might get hurt or hurt someone else...
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Old June 11th, 2013, 04:23 PM   #18
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Re: Aerial cam risks

David, what is the GROUND CONTROL you speak of?

As I've thought about this some more and the implied risk, I will be very surprised if FAA ever permits UAVs to fly over densely populated areas. If you've ever been in a pack of PJs trying to get a photo of significant event it would be obvious that the same behavior would occur with drones trying to angle in to get a clear shot. The risk would appear to be less with a midair between a drone and a GA aircraft and more likely between drones, resulting in someone on the ground getting hit.

Don't take any of my comments in this discussion as being anti-UAV, I think they will be very useful tools.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 12:09 AM   #19
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
The facts speak otherwise. Time and again you hear of pilots pressured to act against their better judgement to fly in bad weather in order to make a delivery promised by a specific time. Given the competition for pilot slots they are often willing to take unnecessary risks in order to keep their jobs.

In the news scenario I described there are a combination of risk factors that make see and avoid difficult. The PIC of a GA aircraft may have a difficult time seeing a UAV due to its size and the UAV is remotely piloted making its pilot less capable of seeing and avoiding. I don't fly a UAV, just fixed wing, but I don't see how a UAV pilot would have the same sense of space that a PIC would have in making coordinated and accurate avoidance maneuvers in reaction to another aircraft operating along a constantly changing threat vector, e.g. a descending and turning helicopter, or how a rapid evasive maneuver might affect the stability of the UAV.

There has been some mention of probabilities of occurrence. Anyone who has done basic risk analysis knows you take both probability and potential impact into account when judging whether to mitigate risk. The potential impact of a collision with a GA aircraft over a populated area is high. Therefore it only makes sense to implement measures to reduce such risk. Right now that means restricting UAV activities. Perhaps in a couple of years it will mean UAVs are required to constantly broadcast their altitude and position.
I don't agree that the facts say otherwise. Do pilots make bad decisions, sure, but there are far more pilots making good decisions than there are bad ones whether commercial or not.

I fly in and out of VNY, one of the busiest GA airports in the US and have never come close to hitting anything, I also don't agree that the potential for a mid air collision with a UAV is that high. Most UAV's are LOS and probably rarely get above a couple of hundred feet AGL. Sure there are some FPV guys flying much higher than they should be but that's a very small percentage of UAV's.

There's way too much hysteria about this, people have been flying RC's for decades, recently they've had cameras mounted on them and more recently FPV has gained in popularity and its pretty much been a non issue.

The result of all of this speculation will be the FAA will just ban RC's altogether. Its amazing at the rate in which we are losing our civil liberties because of paranoia.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 07:04 AM   #20
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Chuck, you fly out of a controlled field. I fly out of PDK and 4A7, the former a busy controlled field and the latter an uncontrolled field. Your flying out of a controlled field where you have traffic advisories is not equivalent to an uncontrolled situation in which a mix of UAV and GA aircraft is involved. In the past RC aircraft have been flown out of small airfields in remote locations away from GA traffic and the folks flying those have respected the laws regarding their use. The current situation is different, where those operating the aircraft in a clearly commercial capacity are flying them in populated areas and are demonstrating a need for more restrictive operating rules, not less. Again, it's not just the probability of occurrence but also the impact that is taken into account in risk analysis. The aircraft are much larger on average than RC aircraft have been in the past. Although most are operated LOS, this will not be the case for commercial operators who intend to use them for operations such as pipeline patrol. Given there will be zero SOB, the tendency to take risks will increase, not decrease. Re your civil liberties, as a pilot you know full well that operating rules are in effect to facilitate your operation in a safe environment. I don't think you meant to imply that you would be perfectly OK with UAVs operating in your class D or C without being in contact with the controlling authority. Likewise I don't want someone's UAV in my airspace operating where it poses a risk to the safe operation of my aircraft.

I think I've made my case clear. If you think any comments here have been hysterical or paranoid, just wait until you see the comments in response to the NPR when it comes out in a year or two. At any rate, I don't think I have anything further to add to the discussion so you guys can have the last word.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 08:56 AM   #21
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding View Post
Not saying that it doesn't happen but news helicopters are often in close proximity to police aircraft, buildings, over crowded freeways and sporting events and its fairly rare that there are catastrophic accidents.
Maybe - but in a full size helicopter, if you push the risks too much - YOU die. That's a wonderful mechanism for stopping people going too far.

With remotes it's different - the immediate consequence is writing off your equipment. Not good, but doesn't focus the mind anywhere near as much as personal death. (Yes, if the wreckage kills a bystander when it lands there may also be very nasty legal consequences later - but they may not seem as real as immediate personal accident.)

I really think Jim nails it when he says " If you've ever been in a pack of PJs trying to get a photo of significant event it would be obvious that the same behavior would occur with drones trying to angle in to get a clear shot." Being distanced from the event, and not in immediate personal danger if things go wrong, it's inevitable people will try to push their luck more. The "it'll never happen to me" syndrome......
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Old June 12th, 2013, 01:46 PM   #22
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Re: Aerial cam risks

When I did some flights over the Puu Oo vent in Hawaii in 1983, there was tremendous interest in getting photos of the new volcano by numerous organizations and individuals. There was a lot of air traffic every day, a mix of helicopter and fixed wing.

There was a procedure set up which probably still applies today (the volcano is still active after all these years). There was a common frequency used by all aircraft and a traffic pattern. Everyone called when they arrived, and announced their positions relative to the vent. They also called when they departed.

Generally, fixed wing flew higher, leaving the lower altitudes and perspectives to helicopters. It worked out very well, especially since there was a period of days in which the protocols could be developed.

For breaking news a standard procedure would have to be established among all airspace users well in advance, and implemented when needed.

But that means everyone has to be talking to each other, including UAV operators. Which also means they have to know, understand and be licensed to use aviation radios. And that might not be possible nor legal from an FCC and FAA standpoint.

Even if altitude protocols were enacted, along with standardized traffic patterns (clockwise around the site, for example), the problem is most RC UAV's don't have altimeters. And, if they do, they're not calibrated like aviation altimeters. So while a UAV operator might be earnest about maintaining a ceiling, he might not know exactly how high the UAV is at a given moment.

Other possibilities is a requirement for line-of-sight observers for each UAV and a strict see-and-avoid policy. UAV's would have the lowest priority and have to yield to all other traffic. Considering that flight durations and range is relatively short for most off-the-shelf UAV's, it would make sense to have them operate on a much more limited basis.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 02:44 PM   #23
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Re: Aerial cam risks

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Originally Posted by Jim Michael View Post
David, what is the GROUND CONTROL you speak of?

As I've thought about this some more and the implied risk, I will be very surprised if FAA ever permits UAVs to fly over densely populated areas. If you've ever been in a pack of PJs trying to get a photo of significant event it would be obvious that the same behavior would occur with drones trying to angle in to get a clear shot. The risk would appear to be less with a midair between a drone and a GA aircraft and more likely between drones, resulting in someone on the ground getting hit.

Don't take any of my comments in this discussion as being anti-UAV, I think they will be very useful tools.
Sorry if I used "laymans terms" - but during the frequent high speed chase coverage we get in LA, you often hear the news pilots chatter - they are in contact with SOMEONE on the ground who is co-ordinating (I would presume with radar and radio contact with all OTHER aircraft) the locations in airspace so that no two aircraft are close enough to create a disaster. It's unclear to me if a small (aka low visibility) UAV even HAS a radar signature, and I'm 110% sure the "pilot" isn't on a radio with anyone, unless it's a public safety UAV used by fire or police...

Let's for the sake of argument toss in someone like that "Russian UAV machine gun platform guy" in the previously linked video decides he wants "news footage" - he apparently isn't too concerned with destruction of his aircraft if you watch to the END... Papparazzi are not exactly known for their disgression, if you catch my drift. So now you have an aircraft, "controlled" only by an idiot whose ONLY interest is in "getting the shot", and who likely has little respect or training for the dangers to aircraft with people in them...

Sure, this is an unusual scenario, but certainly plausible and foreseeable! I'd call it lack of common sense by the "operator", but if some joker brought down a "big" aircraft in an urban setting... it would be BAD. I watched a Life Flight heli, sitting on the ground while responding to an emergency, GROUNDED because a second Fire heli blew a CARDBOARD BOX into the engine/rotors as it landed in close proximity (major multi fatality auto accident). GROUNDED, as in it sat there in the middle of a major traffic artery until mechanics could be brought in (I think they actually trailered it out eventually, but maybe they finally cleared it to fly again). All that from a simple CARDBOARD BOX!! Yes, an abundance of caution, but think about the implications of ingesting or hitting a UAV with a camera (lots of metal and hard plastic to do damage)... MAYBE not that bad, but also potentially a disaster!


I watched a video yesterday (which actually is sort of the proof that the "paranoia" is too extreme) where a restaraunt (I believe in urban London? Yo! Burger, IIRC) was delivering their orders with quadcopters controlled with what looked like ipads for control... yep,if the paranoia was believed, the headline would have been "Burgers with a side of DEATH", but apparently no one had been maimed or killed, and it was actually regarded as a unique novelty, thus "news"!


There are LOTS of potential uses for UAVs, but like anything else, this means that there might be "a few" potential MISuses. I would hope that over time regulations are sensible and allow for "common sense" uses of the tech. I'm sure we'll see LOTS of stories on both sides of the line as these "toys" become more and more common!
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Old June 12th, 2013, 04:29 PM   #24
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Dave, as far as air traffic control is concerned you have various categories of airspace (A, B, C, D, E, G) and flights are according to either visual or instrument flight rules (VFR or IFR). The radar service provided vary according to the airspace category and whether VFR or IFR flight. Under special circumstances you might have some parties coordinating operations, such as in an aerial fire control mission. There are air-air radio frequencies which may be what you are listening to since pilots need to let each other know when they are in an area where something out of the ordinary is occurring. Note that communications are via VHF radio which is line of sight (LOS), so a pilot of a UAV may not be able to communicate with a tower at a nearby airport unless the aircraft had some kind of repeater (heavy and spendy), however the pilot should be able to communicate with GA pilots in the area.

In some cases there might be restricted airspace, in which case only certain aircraft might be permitted, for example during the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill they didn't want anyone flying in the area below 3000 feet due to all the low helicopter and other traffic associated with the "cleanup". When the President comes to town they'll implement a restricted area several miles from his planned locations, which effectively becomes a "no-fly" zone.

Your description of the paparazzi was exactly what I was envisioning.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 02:05 PM   #25
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Re: Aerial cam risks

This guy has "mad" piloting skills. Watch in HD on Vimeo. Risk level would be pretty high if people were around. I doubt if this could happen in the U.S. unless on private property.

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Old June 13th, 2013, 04:04 PM   #26
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Off topic, but pretty cool!
LiveLeak.com - Helicopter pilot saves kid's rc-plane
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Old June 16th, 2013, 12:30 PM   #27
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Re: Aerial cam risks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
All RC aircraft are supposed to be 300 feet and lower.
Incorrect.

In the USA, the limits for RC is:
1. Fly line of sight only. If flying FPV, a dedicated spotter is required.
2. Max 400ft above ground
3. Stay more than 5 miles from any airport unless approved by air traffic control.
4. non-commercial only

Most countries in Europe also practice the 400ft limit, but rules varies from country to country.
(in Norway we also have a 300 meter horizontal distance limit.)
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Old June 17th, 2013, 03:59 PM   #28
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Re: Aerial cam risks

I think one thing everyone can agree on is that R/C helicopters and cameras to equip to them are only going to become less expensive and more prevalent in the hands to complete amateurs.

What I worry about more is the day I take my family to the beach and their are 50 other families trying to film their trip from RC Helicopters with GoPros. Or trying to visit the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls only to have the air space filled with these little buggers just from people who want nothing more then vacation video...

Then imagine what happens when two of these units collide and crash... Apart from the potential for serious injury and loss of equipment, what happens when people start in with He said She said of you crashed into me, you are responsible... And so on down the line. In a way I feel sorry for the first Judge who has to hear a case like this.

True "Professionals" while they may take calculated risks they will always take precautions to mitigate potential risks. Amateurs with attitude and sense of entitlement to put others at risk... These people scare the $&#* out of me.

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Old June 19th, 2013, 05:15 PM   #29
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Re: Aerial cam risks

For those that can view it, this article in todays Daily Telegraph (UK) is about the rise in usage of drones for news gathering, paparazzi etc. and the need to change laws regulating use of UAVs.

The brave new world of 'drone journalism' - Telegraph
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Old June 19th, 2013, 10:11 PM   #30
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Re: Aerial cam risks

[quote=Trond Saetre;1800541]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
All RC aircraft are supposed to be 300 feet and lower.QUOTE]
Incorrect.

In the USA, the limits for RC is:
1. Fly line of sight only. If flying FPV, a dedicated spotter is required.
2. Max 400ft above ground
3. Stay more than 5 miles from any airport unless approved by air traffic control.
4. non-commercial only

Most countries in Europe also practice the 400ft limit, but rules varies from country to country.
(in Norway we also have a 300 meter horizontal distance limit.)
Here are the official rules as set by the Academy of Model Aeronautics:
http://www.modelaircraft.org/files/105.pdf

These are not official FAA rules but ones developed by that organization.

There are official FAA rules in the process of being developed but nothing official is expected for public comment until the later part of this year.
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