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Old March 2nd, 2014, 06:52 PM   #16
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Here's an interesting animation of what air traffic looks like in the U.S. At its slowest time, there are less than 900 flights in the air. During peak hours, there are over 5000!

Update...the animation above was from 2005 data and is obsolete. In 2012, 87,000 flights criss crossed the U.S. in a typical day! I wonder what the data says for 2014?
http://www.rightthisminute.com/video...00-flights-day

Last edited by Warren Kawamoto; March 3rd, 2014 at 10:07 AM.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 10:52 AM   #17
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

The FAA has officially made it clear as day...do not fly RC commercially in the U.S. for now, because the regulations have not yet been set. The two attorneys you linked says go ahead and fly, based on their opinions. Their opinions have never been tested in court. Who would you believe? On another note, take a look at the steep penalties for not complying with FAA rules and regulations (not laws) in real aircraft cases. Keep on flying only if you can afford the penalties.

Press Release – FAA Proposes $90,000 Civil Penalty Against Red Eagle Aviation
Press Release – FAA Proposes $204,050 Civil Penalty Against Sierra Academy of Aeronautics
Press Release – FAA Proposes $78,000 Civil Penalty Against Amazon Fulfillment Services
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 06:02 PM   #18
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

I just want to be sure nobody misunderstands that FAA regulations (and many thousands of other things like FCC spectrum allocations, OSHA standards, etc, etc) ARE in fact contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) and as such are federal LAW and not just "guidelines."

Law typically lags technology. What's at issue here is what's NOT explicitly stated in the CFRs and/or what's ambiguous.

If you get caught breaking a clearly established law, you'll face legal consequences. For example, if the FAA finds that you were flying your Cessna knowing you had a disqualifying medical condition, expect to lose your license and perhaps be fined. If you do something of uncertain legality that leads to a dispute between you and a government agency, you may or may not ultimately prevail but either way will have an expensive legal fight on your hands as you help establish case law.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 02:29 PM   #19
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

True the FCC regulates the airwaves, and the FAA the airspace. But its the Justice Department that will ultimately decided.
This is not the first time a goverment agency with authority has overstepped its might. The Forest Service tries it a lot.
The Justice department will remind all who writes law.

Edit to add: this is the same advisory they are trying to cling to. Its not LAW
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Old March 4th, 2014, 05:26 PM   #20
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

I'd like to ask a question from a different angle, thereby illustrating perhaps the conundrum of the FAA's current stance.

I am a documentary filmmaker. Sometimes I do commercial work for pay, sometimes my own short "passion projects." I already understand that, legally founded or not, the FAA forbids my flying an RC quad for my commercial clients. That's OK, I'm not that good at it anyway.

HOWEVER, I am currently permitted to fly it in non-populated areas for my own, non-commercial projects which I post free to Vimeo for all to see. That's no problem until I am contacted, say, 6 months from now, by an agency that wants to license and distribute my formerly non-commercial piece. By accepting payment from this agency, do I render my formerly legal non-commercial flight a retroactively illegal commercial one?
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Old March 4th, 2014, 06:21 PM   #21
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

The only way to know FAA's stance on this is to write FAA Counsel and ask.

I'd add, I don't see how a legal act can retroactively become illegal. Let's say you are minding your own business testing your toy hexacopter and filming Bambi sipping from a mountain brook, all for your personal enjoyment. Now you go home and discover in your footage Bigfoot walking in the woods behind Bambi. You do what any sane person would do and call the Star and National Enquirer and start a bidding war. You sell your footage for a million bucks and retire to Jamaica. Later, FAA sends you a letter demanding a $10k fine for your commercial activity. That hardly seems rational.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 06:45 PM   #22
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Finn Yarbrough View Post
By accepting payment from this agency, do I render my formerly legal non-commercial flight a retroactively illegal commercial one?
I suspect a lawyer would give you an answer along the lines of "it would have to be tested in court". :-)

Seriously though, there's a lot of precedent here, along the lines of taking still photographs and what constitutes amateur and professional use. If you happened to catch a unique moment on an iphone camera, and subsequently sold it, I don't think anyone would consider that as what is normally defined by "professional photography" - though the taxman may still be interested! :-)

But go along to a pre-arranged spot, to specifically film a given subject for a third party, and I don't give much for your chances of arguing it's other than "professional". :-)

OK, there's going to be a grey area in the middle, and that's what lawyers and courts are for....... But do you want to take your chances there?
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Old March 4th, 2014, 07:00 PM   #23
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
If you happened to catch a unique moment on an iphone camera, and subsequently sold it, I don't think anyone would consider that as what is normally defined by "professional photography" - though the taxman may still be interested! :-)

But go along to a pre-arranged spot, to specifically film a given subject for a third party, and I don't give much for your chances of arguing it's other than "professional". :-)
But that's just it. I AM a professional videographer by trade. What does the MSRP of the device that I happen to be using to capture my images have to do with it? Suddenly, because I am incorporated and I file a schedule C every year, any camera that I touch has the potential to yield "professional" images, and because I have knowledge of this fact, I become commercially culpable for any image I may produce under any circumstances.

When there is no "third party" involved at the time of the flight, but only afterwards, as in my example, does it really come down to proving my personal intent to create footage that might be of value at the time of the flight? What material difference does that make on the flight itself?

Unless the FAA comes up with a framework other than commercial/non-commercial, lawyers are going to have a field day with this one.

Basically, as long as my aerial footage stays is so cr@ppy that no one in his right mind would ever pay to license it, I'm all set.

EDIT: what about DVinfo's own UWOL challenge? I'm sure that some will be submitting non-commercial R/C aerial footage for consideration. But if any of us wins the contest and receives a taxable reward for our efforts, we will be culpable, right? The runners-up don't have to worry, though.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 07:33 PM   #24
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

The CAA has this definition

"Throughout this paper, the question of whether a flight is public transport or aerial work is
discussed in terms of whether "payment" has been given or promised in respect of the flight.
In the Order itself instead of "payment" the term which is used is "valuable consideration".
This term has a very wide meaning, including the provision of goods and services"

I would take it that if no "payment" has been given or promised at the time of the flight it's not commerical I suspect that would cover the one off world shattering video which doesn't have such a payment attached at the time of the flight. Although perhaps not for your film or video that you are making on a speculative basis because there is a promise of possible payment. Although, I suppose a lawyer may have a different take on that.

I'm sure the FAA has their own definition.of aerial work .
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Old March 5th, 2014, 04:08 PM   #25
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Given that wording, looks like a loophole you could fly a Predator through...

You shoot for "fun", with no money or six packs or anything "promised or given"...

You still "own" the footage, if it turns out to be "valuable", license it later... a paparazzi's dream, if you ask me... until they add the phrase "in anticipation of" to the mix, it's a possible "out" to the question... but then who knows if a particular shot will turn out to be "valuable" or not?! The odds improve if you're a "professional" shooter, and that would be a big problem if it ended up in a legal challenge or dispute...

This is the problem with rules and regulations, if they are "airtight", you probably can't do ANYTHING, and if they aren't, there's so much room to "reinterpret" ad hoc...
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:01 PM   #26
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

You might get away with it once, but getting payments on a regular basis would mean that it would be reasonable for them to assume that you're doing it on a commerical basis.
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Old March 6th, 2014, 08:39 PM   #27
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Looks like FAA's position has been shot down http://www.kramerlevin.com/files/upl...erDecision.pdf
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Old March 6th, 2014, 08:52 PM   #28
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

Wow.. Based on that the FAA will need to update their page to say "Never mind". :/
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Old March 6th, 2014, 09:27 PM   #29
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

I have close friends that work for the FAA. I empathize with the monumental task they have been given here. That being said, I have seen really poor decisions made by the boards and CEO's of multi-billion dollar corporations and fundamentally our government agencies are no less immune to some equally poor decision making. At the end of the day they are just people doing the best they know how. They did not expect the exponential growth of small UAV's that has taken place in recent years and are completely unprepared and so have resorted to drastic measures (overstepping legal authority) and damage control.

The simple fact is, commercial RC aerial filming is alive and well. Every time I sit down to watch some TV, within a few minutes I see a shot from a RC rig. These shots were all accomplished without death, destruction, full size near misses, invasion of privacy or any other causes for concern. This is happening as we speak and the sky is not falling.

A total of 34,000 people were killed in the US in 2012 in vehicle accidents and as a country we accept this as part of the cost of increased national mobility and commerce. It boggles my mind that people on this forum and others want this entire industry shut down based solely on the possibility that someone "might be" injured or killed by this commercial activity. Over 90% of the work for small UAV's is below 400 ft. and of little or no risk to full size aviation.

The simple fact is there are a lot of people who don't have the skills, entrepreneurial spirit or foresight to jump into the deep end of the RC aerial cinematography business and so are more than happy to throw stones that those who do.
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Old March 7th, 2014, 02:50 AM   #30
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Re: Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

BUSTED..

Commercial Drones Are Completely Legal, a Federal Judge Ruled | Motherboard
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