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Old July 16th, 2014, 03:16 AM   #1
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NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

It appears that the charges against the radio control multirotor in New York are starting to unravel.

Now those of us with actual POST certified formal LEO training right away laughed at the initial report...we used to call that "creative report writing" which to everyone else means: "lying".

To claim that they had to take evasive action when the model aircraft came at them and it almost crashed into them is the same pablum where cops jump in front of cars deliberately, so they can then claim they were in fear of being run over and killed, or they beat people mercilessly, and when they recoil in pain, they claim that such constitutes resisting, all so more fake charges can be added to potentiate the plea bargain process. Police pilots rarely get an opportunity to pad their barren felony pinch stats as they are, well, not on the ground, so a little bit of creativity is needed to justify their actions. In this case, a lot of creativity was used.

Well, the official false narrative is already starting to unravel as we knew it would.

The helicopter radio transmissions were recorded by some hobbyists. The actual transmission recordings can be heard here.

Nowhere is there any mention of near misses, evasive action, or such. The cops even admit they have no idea if they actually have any crime.

From Forbes:

"Remy Castro, 23 and Wilkins Mendoza, 34 were charged in Manhattan Criminal Court with felony reckless endangerment. That law states:

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

Reckless endangerment statutes don’t require a particular resulting outcome or injuries, rather what they criminalize is the risks created by the actor’s conduct. In the case of felony reckless endangerment, the New York courts have noted that the statute is intended to criminalize:

"those criminal acts perpetrated not against specific persons but evincing wanton and reckless conduct towards unspecified persons by reason of a depraved indifference to human life in general."

That is a high standard, and each element of that statute will need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Felony reckless endangerment requires a disregard for the value of human life.
Per New York case law, depraved indifference to human life:

"as required to support conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment, is best understood as an utter disregard for the value of human life, a willingness to act not because one intends harm, but because one simply does not care whether harm results or not."

Remy Castro, 23 and Wilkins Mendoza, 34 were charged in Manhattan Criminal Court with felony reckless endangerment. That law states:

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

"Reckless endangerment" statutes don’t require a particular resulting outcome or injuries, rather what they criminalize is the risks created by the actor’s conduct. In the case of felony reckless endangerment, the New York courts have noted that the statute is intended to criminalize:

those criminal acts perpetrated not against specific persons but evincing wanton and reckless conduct towards unspecified persons by reason of a depraved indifference to human life in general.

That is a high standard, and each element of that statute will need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Felony reckless endangerment requires a disregard for the value of human life.
Per New York case law, depraved indifference to human life:

"as required to support conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment, is best understood as an utter disregard for the value of human life, a willingness to act not because one intends harm, but because one simply does not care whether harm results or not."

end

Both defendants claim it was the police that endangered themselves via their actions, and they say they have the video evidence to prove it. It would be a cold day in hell before the government could meet all these exceptionally high evidentiary burdens, so it's why the defendants are being overcharged, the usual MO of corrupt government prosecutors to get people to plea bargain to misdemeanors.

Some of my favorite laughable claims made by the police is an altitude change by the DJI Phantom of 0 feet AGL to 2000 feet AGL in 2 seconds. There are 5280 ft. in a mile, there are 3600 seconds in an hour, so:

1000/5280 = 0.18939 miles per second

0.18939 X 3600 = 681.8 mph, just below Mach 1 supersonic at seal level. Wow, that's either some fast model multirotor or some even faster creative police reporting!

These types of overblown interactions by abusive law enforcement with radio control hobbyists are becoming more frequent, so the outcome of this is of interests to the aerial film making community.

Here is a
of the two multirotor hobbyists accusing the police of endangering themelves and others

Far below is the actual transcript of the radio transmission, and I urge readers to review it before commenting.

NYPD—What kind of contact do you have … at this time.
Tower—What do you mean, what kind of contact?
NYPD—I don’t know. We just had an aircraft do vertical climbs pretty fast.
Tower—I don’t see anything on the radar. About how high would you say it went?
NYPD—I'd say 0 to about 2,000 [feet] in less than two seconds. And he's got green and red now. He's going up Spuyten Duyval [bridge], northbound at this time.
Tower—Really? I don’t see anything on the radar. Im not seeing anything like that.
NYPD—He has to be military. He's moving. He's right over top of us right now, LaGuardia. He did a 180 really quick. Going down the east river at this time. I just want to make sure its not a drone.
Tower—I’ll look out the window.
NYPD—LaGuardia we are 800 feet and he is level with us at this time.
Tower—He's level.
NYPD—Going Spuyten Duyval to the [George Washington Bridge]. He's got to be a drone.
Tower—Roger that.
NYPD—He's got red and green lights. Hes trucking, hes moving fast. LaGuardia, definitely a drone. Hes going up the streets now between buildings.
Tower—Ok, all right. Man, theres really gotta be a better way to maybe disable these guys.
NYPD—We are going to stay here and figure out where he puts it.
Tower—Take your time, you’re the only ones in the air.
NYPD—Will do. Yeah, we got drone activity at the GW Bridge. We are trying to walk an RMP [remote mobile patrol] into it. We got the guys operating it on the ground. Hopefully we can get these guys collared up.
Tower—In the vicinity of the GW? They were at the GW. Now I got three, four, coming up to Fairview and 193, vicinity of.
Tower—All right, you want me to do anything from here.
NYPD—Nope, just letting you know.
NYPD—Ok we got these guys are saying these are just toys but these drones were flying in vicinity of [George Washington Bridge]. They buzz around us as well.
Tower—All right what altitude were you guys at.
NYPD—These things were well over 2,000 feet. They were above us at 1,000.
Tower—You still have a visual.
NYPD—No, we've got custody, we've locked the [radio mobile patrol police cars] into them. You know, we have the guys who were operating them. We really don’t know exactly what we have, maybe a reckless. Not sure what exactly we got.
Tower—All right 10-4.
NYPD—Just so you know there was a class given to lt perez, I don’t know if you want to disturb him or not, but he had all the info on that.
Tower—All right 10-4 thank you.
NYPD—Tiny little, we got them on the ground now. Tiny little drones with four blades on it. But, yeah, It was all the way over the GW. Now we are all the way over at Spuyten Duyval flying two miles away to 2,000 feet.
NYPD—They are with them right now, but we don’t even know what we have.
NYPD—Definitely, we just don’t know what kind of crime we have right now.
NYPD—Seems to me, if they were at 1,000 feet, they'd have to be operating that thing recklessly, regardless of whether or not it was a toy.
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Old July 16th, 2014, 05:36 AM   #2
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Great article Dave.
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Old July 16th, 2014, 09:27 AM   #3
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

there's certainly something missing from either of the parties. if the gopro was indeed recording the whole time, that should be it. the nypd transcript is so out of wack, i'd think they either saw a different drone, or are incredible inept
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Old July 16th, 2014, 11:28 AM   #4
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

I don't think these two guys are going to get any safety training with their drone.

To think its ok to buzz around a busy city or even just just take off in the street a couple of feet away from live traffic demonstrates that basic rules need to be developed and enforced. Irresponsible flying will affect the wider drone community and harden attitudes towards this technology.

So the charge against them seems pretty fair to me.
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Old July 16th, 2014, 04:12 PM   #5
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

So the recorded transcript shows that the pilots were genuinely concerned about the way the drone was flying and changing altitude over the city.

Pretty sure I'd take the word of the qualified pilots over the word of the guys flying the drone.

Time will tell, but it looks like the honeymoon period for drone cowboys is coming to an end....
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Old July 16th, 2014, 06:39 PM   #6
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
So the recorded transcript shows that the pilots were genuinely concerned about the way the drone was flying and changing altitude over the city.

Pretty sure I'd take the word of the qualified pilots over the word of the guys flying the drone.

Time will tell, but it looks like the honeymoon period for drone cowboys is coming to an end....
So you would believe the police when they state the radio control model aircraft was traveling at near supersonic speeds?
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Old July 17th, 2014, 04:29 AM   #7
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Clearly, drones are not a problem these days and the police have no reason to be concerned
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Old July 17th, 2014, 06:12 AM   #8
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

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So you would believe the police when they state the radio control model aircraft was traveling at near supersonic speeds?
No. They are human, and make mistakes.

But if a qualified pilot feels the need to be concerned about an object flying in his vicinity, and feel the need to report it to a control tower, then there was probably a risk factor at play.

When I was 18 I did a PPL with an aim to becoming a commercial pilot. Once I had the private pilots license I realized it was not for me and gave it up. But there was a lot of training involved, and you learned that when you fly you take on a lot of responsibility ( for people on the ground and in the air).

A lot of drone pilots don't seem to understand this. And a lot of drone pilots don't seem to understand that the amount of damage that can be caused by flying vehicles is disproportionate to their size. So eventually there will have to be some sort of license involved with flying them for the safety of people on the ground and for the safety of people in other aircraft,

Especially as these drones are only going to get bigger, heavier, faster and cheaper over time.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 08:25 AM   #9
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Simon -- just wanted to say that I always enjoy reading your posts. I think you've made some valid points here. Many years ago I had the time and opportunity to pursue a PPL (with the availability of a business partner's AC) but I didn't have the money to pay a CFI. Today my situation is reversed; I can finally afford a PPL but I don't have the time. And I'm no longer as sure about taking on that level of responsibility.

Here's a question for anyone who knows: in the USA, I understand that the FAA mandates the lowest safe altitude in congested areas to be 1,000 ft. above the highest object within a 2,000 radius of the AC. I know this is different in other countries. I understand that the minimum AGA is supposed to be 500 ft. outside of congested areas. And that unmanned drones are to stay below 400 ft. And that helicopters always seem to be an exception to the rules regarding minimums... is that right?

So -- if there's only a 100 ft. barrier of airspace between the minimum AGA for manned aircraft and the maximum AGA for drones, what I'm wondering is, how does the new and inexperienced drone operator know what the actual altitude is that they're flying at any given moment? How does one know where 400 ft. is in order to stay below it. Is it visual guesswork, or do these popular quad-copters such as the DJI Phantom come equipped with an altimeter that talks to the controller? If not, should they? How difficult or expensive would it be to put a barometric pressure sensor or a vertical laser rangefinder on these things? Or are they building them this way already. Thanks in advance from a clueless noob.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Helicopters do have separate rules for some aspects, but pilots I've filmed with tend to be reluctant to get closer than 500 ft (as per fixed wing), unless a special clearance has been arranged for the filming. Being able to do a safe emergency auto rotation landing is a consideration, as is having a helicopter with two engines.

From my CAA PPL for a fixed wing "An aircraft shall not fly closer than 500ft to any persons, vessel, vehicle or structure." Of courser, there are different types of airspace, which have their own rules.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 08:54 AM   #11
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
how does the new and inexperienced drone operator know what the actual altitude is that they're flying at any given moment? How does one know where 400 ft. is in order to stay below it. Is it visual guesswork, or do these popular quad-copters such as the DJI Phantom come equipped with an altimeter that talks to the controller?
The basic Phantoms do not come equipped with this as standard. You need to add the iOSDmini plus a transmitter, coupled with a monitor / receiver for the ground station. Once you have this you get lots of information, including height above your take off position (not necessarily height above ground if you're in hills / valleys), along with distance from take off, direction to home base, speed (meters per second), battery remaining etc.

It's not that expensive to add and I would think most people flying with a camera mounted would prefer the FPV capabilities this gives once they have a little experience.

Of course one problem is that someone who does care about the rules gains the FPV capabilities they tend to be watching the screen instead of the Phantom, so if they don't have a spotter with them then they are flying even more dangerously than without it.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 11:50 AM   #12
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Here's a question for anyone who knows: in the USA, I understand that the FAA mandates the lowest safe altitude in congested areas to be 1,000 ft. above the highest object within a 2,000 radius of the AC. I know this is different in other countries. I understand that the minimum AGA is supposed to be 500 ft. outside of congested areas. And that unmanned drones are to stay below 400 ft. And that helicopters always seem to be an exception to the rules regarding minimums... is that right?
Chris, I work ATC in Norway, and the rules you describe are correct, and is the same both in the USA and Norway.
Helicopters are exempted from the 500ft minimum altitude because they are able to fly slow enough to stop and/or avoid any obstacles, but only if their mission requires them to fly low.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 12:13 PM   #13
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

Thank you Trond, Dave and Brian.

ATC -- another job the responsibility of which I could never begin to undertake. Much respect!

If it were up to me, I'd require all these UAV's to give altitude talk-back to the controller in meters or feet. Otherwise, how would you know for sure that you're under the legal maximum AGA?
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Old July 17th, 2014, 12:20 PM   #14
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

One way to estimate the altitude, is to time the climb.
Ex. My DJI Phantom (v1) climbes with max rate of about 6 m/s. So if I use full power and a 10 second climb, it would be at about 60 meters altitude. Not a perfect solution, but it more or less worked for me until I got an FPV system and the iOSDmini unit.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 07:38 PM   #15
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Re: NYPD Helicopter / Multirotor "Near Miss" Unraveling

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Thank you Trond, Dave and Brian.

ATC -- another job the responsibility of which I could never begin to undertake. Much respect!

If it were up to me, I'd require all these UAV's to give altitude talk-back to the controller in meters or feet. Otherwise, how would you know for sure that you're under the legal maximum AGA?
It wouldn't make a difference what altitude one is flying at, as there is no federal LAW on radio control model aircraft altitudes, and the FAA admits it here.
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