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Old April 6th, 2014, 10:06 PM   #1
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Drone accident in Western Australia

Here is something that might be of interest...

Triathlete injured as drone filming race falls to ground - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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Old April 7th, 2014, 02:32 AM   #2
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

thats interesting. Wonder if CASA are going to make an example of this dude?
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Old April 7th, 2014, 04:47 AM   #3
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

What particularly annoys me, is that it has been illegal to fly aircraft over the heads of people at airshows and events for decades for safety reasons, yet this guy decided that it was perfectly acceptable to fly over the heads of competitors in a triathlon. I don't for one moment believe his story of channel hopping, I can't even control my GoPro on a tripod from more than about 20 feet away with my phone even though they are frequency matched.

If people are unable to comply with the existing rules and fly with basic safety in mind, then it is inevitable that incidences such as this one will precipitate the introduction of draconian controls.

Roger
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Old April 7th, 2014, 05:45 AM   #4
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

What is particularly interesting to me about this incident (I must caution that the given link is my only source of information) is that there is at least a possibility of sabotage, and that it may not just be a question of operator competence. However, it does not alter the basic issues of safety here - accidental loss of control or deliberate channel-hopping would be a fairly academic issue to anyone struck by a drone.

Professional and amateur use of drones is increasing here in the UK, an example being by the railway industry themselves
and also by railway enthusiasts
The possibility of deliberate channel-hopping is not widely appreciated. Something else to worry about.
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Old April 7th, 2014, 06:31 AM   #5
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

If you use a drone with the DJI NAZA controller, it will automatically switch to return-to-home mode if the link between the drone and the controller is interrupted. I would assume that this would include interruption via external interference of the signal?
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Old April 7th, 2014, 08:03 AM   #6
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

I'm confused---what is the definintion of "deliberate channel hopping?"

There is no doubt that the FAA (in the US) will be watching every negative incident like a hawk to bolster their case for regulation.

As I prepare to get into aerial videography with a drone for our university, I'm proceeding with UTMOST PARANOIA---meaning I plan to be SUPER careful in everything I do---and take every possible precaution to be sure we don't screw up---even if it means limiting flights to only half of possible flying time to completely eliminate low voltage as a cause for incidents, and doing full compass calibrations before EVERY flight (even from the same location) and NEVER flying without a 100% certain GPS lock.

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Old April 7th, 2014, 02:34 PM   #7
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

I'm not sure I understand the reference to "channel swapping" either. I seriously doubt that's the case. However, even if you were using a DJI controller, I doubt that would have any effect on this situation since the channel swap would be in the Rx. But as I said I think this is a non issue.

Scott, don't read too much into the stuff you read about MR's online. Most of the people expressing the dangers of MR's have never seen one in person let alone built, flown or own one.

Common sense goes a long way, Developing safe habits stems from an understanding of what your doing. This advice is true of all things, but especially things that fly. If your not a pilot and are responsible for setting up a "flight Department" at your University, I'd recommend finding a commercially rated pilot who consults with companies that want to setup flight departments or even just a pilot who also likes to fly MR's.

Flying is all about mitigating and managing risk and to do that effectively you have to have a thorough understanding of the systems involved, the power, aerodynamics, control, safety procedures etc.. Pilots have a somewhat unique understanding of this, once the wheels are off the ground, it doesn't matter whether its 5' or 5000', you have to know exactly what to do and that's a function of training and understanding everything about what your doing [pilots call it situational awareness]. If you don't know what to do and have to "figure it out as you go" you get behind the airplane and that's generally when bad things happen.

Might sound complicated but it doesn't have to be. The real issue I see is the hordes of people buying Phantoms and immediately hanging out a shingle to do commercial AP. Their pretty much learning on the job. That is not the way to approach this nor is reading about it online.

You can't afford to be PARANOID. I realize that just might be a bad choice of words, however if you are overly concerned about flying MR's then you probably don't understand what goes into flying them safely. That's not intended as a criticism, its just that if that's how you feel about this then the first purchase your "flight department" should make is a DJI Phantom, its a great trainer to use to develop your skills while at the same time you develop the operating procedures for your department. How are you going to train students or other employees who work with you to do AP? You also might not want new people to your program/department flying the AP MR until they can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that they are competent MR pilots, the Phantom would be good for that.

MR's fly just fine without GPS lock. I wouldn't characterize most pilots as SUPER careful, they are methodical, well organized, trained and confident in their abilities which enables them to have a good situational awareness and resource management skills to conduct a safe flight. Most of them ride motorcycles and/or drive like idiots and party way to much... JK.
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Old April 7th, 2014, 03:41 PM   #8
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

Excellent comments Chuck! And I'm already on-board with those comments, as I've been a hang glider pilot for many years---so have experienced firsthand the planning, attention to detail, and devotion to process (e.g. ritualized preflight checks). Sadly, I've also witnessed people hurt or killed while hang gliding---every incident due to pilot error. (Like MR's, hang gliders are mistakenly assumed to be dangerous---when of course it's the pilots, not the hardware, that are dangerous.)

One of my favorite aviation sayings is "Launching is optional, landing is mandatory." (Along with "There are old pilots and bold pilots---but no old, bold pilots.") You're right---aviation is not forgiving.

Though it sounds very cool, I'm not setting up a course or department for RC flight or aerial videography; we just plan to use a drone for acquiring aerial campus footage ourselves within the video unit of our internal marketing division. (So there would only be at most 2-3 operators if that.)

"Paranoid" was indeed probably a poor choice of words; what I meant was that I always assume the worst will happen (in a level-headed way) and be prepared for it.

I've learned that accidents most often happen to people who aren't prepared for them to happen.

-----
While I don't have MR piloting experience (yet), I've flown combat slope soaring gliders for years---using hair-trigger FM transmitters where extreme maneuvers result from moving the stick 1/32 of an inch. So between that and being familiar with orientation (and reverse orientation), I'm hoping not to have TOO steep a learning curve. :-) (None of my gliders had GPS, gyros, or accelerometers---in some ways, flying RC craft does seem to have become more forgiving.)

Scott
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Old April 7th, 2014, 06:28 PM   #9
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
What particularly annoys me, is that it has been illegal to fly aircraft over the heads of people at airshows and events for decades for safety reasons, yet this guy decided that it was perfectly acceptable to fly over the heads of competitors in a triathlon.
The article quotes the rules (whether the user is licensed or not - this guy wasn't) as you shouldn't fly within 30 metres of a person. The article states it was hovering above the competitors, and the implication is it fell vertically 10 metres.
Quote:
I don't for one moment believe his story of channel hopping, I can't even control my GoPro on a tripod from more than about 20 feet away with my phone even though they are frequency matched.
He sounds busily in mode of making excuses, including the assertion that it actually dropped behind her and "she fell and was injured after being startled by it". (She sustained a number of head injuries and required three stiches, and is adamant the injuries were caused by it actually hitting her - believe who you will.)

I likewise find his story hard to believe, especially regarding it being done deliberably. Even if accidental (such as a mobile phone had "jammed" the signal without intent), it only serves to underline the importance of following the guidelines - not flying over people.
Quote:
If people are unable to comply with the existing rules and fly with basic safety in mind, then it is inevitable that incidences such as this one will precipitate the introduction of draconian controls.
And unfortunately, you're quite right. Everyone suffers for the stupidity of a minority.
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Old April 8th, 2014, 10:13 AM   #10
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

Good post Chuck and it really is important to treat all flying machines as if they were fall sized and you were going to fly in it yourself.

@Scott, when you read closely most of the reports and accounts by those that claim to have malfunctions, you will find that just about all of them are down to operator failures of one kind or another. I also agree with Chuck on the real life accidents and your own experiences with hang gliding, that the vast majority of accidents are down to the pilot in one way pr another.

I have a few thousand hours in my log book as a gliding instructor and have seen a number of accidents and fatalaties over the years. I believe that all of those were subsequently shown to have been down to human error rather than direct mechanical or electrical failure.

With quads and RC aircraft generally, it is very easy for anyone to get the equipment and start flying with zero experience. With naievity can come over confidence and lack of awareness of the dangers, couple that with an ushakeable belief that 'I did nothing wrong', and the myth of flaways and other 'unexplained' failures quickly takes hold. The other side of the coin in my experience, is that superb ability and skill can also lead to pushing the boundaries further plus increasing the risk taking and heightened self belief. All these things can become very dangerouus.

Listen to the stories, but basically, learn what you are doing, understand the functions and check everything thouroughly, then check it again. If anything seems not quite right, don't fly until you have thouroughly checked it out.

Roger
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Old April 8th, 2014, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

As much as i would vote for a banning of all such devices because of the the sheer amount of unpredictability, i think in the end they really need to break down classifications of different sizes. because while any size can do damage, larger certainly means more potential for serious damage

here's how i'd rough out a system:

Let toys be toys and let anything under 1000grams fly (with battery, not including payload)
anything over that.... certification or bust.
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Old April 22nd, 2014, 12:48 AM   #12
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

The operator is just making excuses for his own mistakes. He crashed it.

There is no way mobile phones could interfere with a drone because they are not even close on the spectrum band (900 Mhz versus 2.4 Ghz.)

There is not a drone in the world sold with the old 72 Mhz technology where one needed to take turns flying in close proximity to others if they were on the same rather limited selection of channels.

Now, with channel-hopping, there is no physical way one can take control of another's drone.

(By the way, the channel-hopping technology that we all use today in radio control and some two way radios was first patented many decades ago by a Hollywood actress named Hedy Lamar. One wonders what the Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans of the world will ever contribute to humanity.)
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 12:31 PM   #13
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Re: Drone accident in Western Australia

Hedy Lamar? Wasn't she a character in Blazing Saddles?
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