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Old November 24th, 2014, 01:47 PM   #1
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Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

Along with an actual pilot's license, it would be restricted to daylight hours, under 400 feet, and within line of site. This would include all unmanned craft under 55lbs.

Report: FAA Will Require You to Have a Pilot License to Fly a Drone

The only good news is, this is in the stage of being passed around for comment. Should be a couple of years before any of this is law.
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Old November 24th, 2014, 03:18 PM   #2
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

I was giving a workshop for drone flying over the weekend and this was one of the topics of discussion.

Everyone should read the exemptions given to the crews flying for the film industry right now. That is likely what will be handed down to the rest of us in due time.

Edit - Here is the summary slide from that part of the presentation.
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Old November 24th, 2014, 06:49 PM   #3
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

I'm all for reasonable regulations, but unless the FAA requires you to log 25 flight hours in a yet-to-be-invented human-size multirotor, I'm failing to see how flying a fixed wing aircraft has any educational benefit when the final goal is operating a remote controlled UAS from the ground. ESPECIALLY when there's no longer the option for FPV. Do they teach you how to fly a Cessna with a 14 channel Futaba? It's seems to me a 25 hour class and skills test tailored to UAS would be a much more beneficial. Half the battle here seems to be making sure operators know and above by the rules of the air. Fixed wing aircraft flight experience has no reasonable benefit here, a multirotor doesn't even have wings!
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Old November 24th, 2014, 07:21 PM   #4
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

I'm looking at it like this.. 1. The current providers with exceptions want the price of entry to be high enough to discourage newcomers. 2. The government is inherently lazy. Its is much easier for them to make UAV operators conform to existing rules than it is thinking about what is reasonable and appropriate.
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Last edited by Chris Medico; November 25th, 2014 at 07:11 AM.
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Old November 24th, 2014, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

Yes, but will the flight time count towards the ATP certificate requirements?
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Old November 25th, 2014, 01:54 AM   #6
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

The UK's CAA regulations seem to make more sense in the longer term, this has the paper examinations, plus a test flying an appropriate drone. On the larger drones, the aircraft sized ones, a full pilot's license of a suitable class would be seem correct.
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Old November 25th, 2014, 06:17 AM   #7
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

And maybe next will be FCC license for the remote controls and operators????.

The underlying issue is to reduce conjestion, accidents, and the number of idiots behind the stick.

When drones in the air crash into each other, things on the ground get fallen upon.
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Old November 25th, 2014, 07:15 AM   #8
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

Once the Notice of Proposed Rule Making comes out there will be a comment period. If the minimum license requirement in the proposal is a Private ticket then that is what the rules will be. It will be up to the community to push for a special license. Otherwise you will be stuck getting a full license to fly something you can't ride in.
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Old November 27th, 2014, 12:09 AM   #9
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

It would seem the FAA are looking adopt many of the working practices that are in force in the UK for commercial drone operators. The key word here is commercial. If you are simply someone who enjoys flying drones these restrictions won't stop you going out and having fun.

It looks like the FAA will be adopting something very similar to the BNUC (Basic National UAS Certificate). This is the preferred pilot qualification standard required by many National Aviation Authorities before a Permission for Aerial Work or Exemption is granted to an operator.

And it's all to do with developing and maintaining safe procedures and working practices. Here in the UK getting a CAA permission for aerial work is a pretty rigorous process that involves attending a ground school, and passing an initial examination before developing and maintaining an operations manual as well as passing a flight test that assesses both the pilot and the craft.

Whilst all this might seem over the top for someone who just wants to take a few aerial videos of, for instance, houses for sale with a DJI Phantom what it does teach you is to operate in as safe a manner as is possible regardless of the size of the UAS you are flying.

Gaining the certification to carry out commercial work is a powerful marketing tool and clearly separates the professional operators from the hobbyist amateur flyers.
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Old November 27th, 2014, 10:20 AM   #10
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

As someone who has a Commercial Pilots licence, I am in full support of this. The problem with fly away drones, and uncontrolled use of airspace represents a significant risk to commercial aviation. We have seen drones being flown on commercial flight paths putting numerous flights at risk. We regularly see video of 4 engine drones being flown over crowds with no consideration of the risks to individuals below. I have seen videos of drones at 4000-5000ft in densely populated airspace.

The bottom line is, this is coming, and our company is prepared, insured and ready to fly. To get ready for this type of regulation, represented a significant cost and time investment. Lets face it, we all knew that the industry could never continue unregulated...

So yes, flying a Cessna would make you aware of flight regulations, airspace and the ramifications of what you are doing.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 07:24 PM   #11
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

Further to Marks post, the key word from the original link that seems to be getting missed out of most of this discussion is that these are proposals for "commercial" users - not hobbyists.

One way in which they could be out of date as soon as they are written is if companies like Amazon are serious about the use of drones for deliveries. Such is obviously a commercial use - but very different to any use for such as aerial filming, with a completely different risk assessment.

The risk of aerial filming use may be down to their being far more likely to be being flown near lots of people - it's filming people/events where they're most likely to want to be used! The main risks for delivery drones are more likely down to their having to be flown autonomously, without human supervision.

Or may that be a safety plus? I suppose it depends on just what technology in terms of collision avoidance etc may get developed in the next decade or so. Part of me just doesn't think it likely to happen - but I don't think I'd have credited even 10 years ago - let alone 20 - what modern technology is capable of today. And Jeff Bezos and Amazon certainly have the resources to make it happen if anyone does.....
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Old November 29th, 2014, 03:58 AM   #12
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

There should be clear guidelines in the box explaining where and more importantly where not to fly these things. Say I'm out in the Scottish country flying one and a RAF fighter jet fly's past at low level. Hate to think. So yes we need some guidelines.
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Old November 29th, 2014, 07:39 AM   #13
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

Airspace restrictions is a subject you find out about when studying for the ground exams. The locations for military training are marked on charts and NOTAMS are available online Flight Planning Map: UK | NOTAM Info
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Old November 29th, 2014, 07:55 AM   #14
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

USA and UK are signatories to aviation treaties which tend to result in a lot of similarities between the regulations, so I wouldn't be surprised if the FAA NPR contains much of the same rules as those in the UK. It makes sense - if I fly to Canada I would prefer not to have to learn a new set of regulations, or worse have to take a test in order to use the airspace. Likewise if drone related rules are consistent, then you should be able to fly your drone in another country with less risk of violating a regulation.
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Old November 30th, 2014, 08:57 PM   #15
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Re: Early leak: FAA will require a pilot's license for drone flying

First of all...I agree with almost all the statements in this thread.


My two cents:

In the early 1990's I bought a JetSki. Anyone could buy and take one on a lake, river etc. Problem was, lots of IDIOTS bought them and did idiotic things with them due to the lack of common sense. Accidents with jetski's began to soar. You see... when going 45mph on a jet ski...it doens't have brakes (today they do..like thrust reversers on a jet). So if you're about to T-bone a boat, taking your hand off the throttle doesn't do much....you keep cruising into the boat. You have to actually APPLY POWER and turn away. Not something that is INTUITIVE.

Finally, in Pennsylvania where I live, you needed to have a boating license to operate a jetski. Ok. I was for that. Accidents did go down. Did it stop all the idiots from purchasing skis and doing dumb things with them ? No. The jet ski industry had to begin to make the skis safer (the brakes I referred to).


We have a DJI Phantom2 Vision+ with a GoPro Hero3+ for 4 months now. It is an amazing tool in our arsenal of video equipment needed to survive in producing work today.

After using it this long, at no time have I needed to obtain footage higher than 400' AGL. Matter of fact I only went that high ONCE...to just see the view ! We have shoot exteriors for colleges, corporations and stock broll of farms, fields creeks...etc. If I was higher than 150' it was unusual. Why ? Because higher than than usually gets you just tops of buildings. I understand shooting fields wide shots and it looks great. But 1500' AGL gets you GOOGLE EARTH.

We use the drone for many shots like jib replacements and crane shots. Most of these never go higher than 100'. If I have a private or commercial plane, flying at 100-400' over a campus, river, cornfield or ANYTHING...we have a bigger problem than my drone.

OH..Privacy issue. If I'm being hired by a corporation, university or private entity that is AUTHORIZING me to get footage for a project for them...how can the FAA control that ? Right now they say they can.

So, should a test and license be made for us in the production world to show we know how to operate a drone and use 'reasonable intelligence' when flying one....like the boat license ? SURE. I'm in. Will it stop idiots from flying 2000'AGL near an airport or anywhere for that matter ? No.

The manufacturers are already putting safety stops in place in their software/hardware. Our latest firmware for the DJI includes max flight heights. Ours is set to 400'. Also max distances so flyaways wouldn't go a mile or so if it happened. The new Inspire is awesome. Using a two controller system for pilot and cameraman.

Since day one we instituted this system. Pilot watches the drone for obstructions. Cameraman has the monitor with a 5.8ghz system to direct the shots verbally. The camera is similar to a side view mirror...Images appear closer than they actually are. Yup. So two people is the way to fly. No question.


Someone posted a drone video on Youtube. He was flying it in Times Square. Within one block he lost control (gee..wonder why with every type of wireless signal flying around in there) and it crashed 2 times into a building and fell. I was DELIGHTED to see that people who commented castrated this person. It 's not funny and this type of video is what will hurt our business, whether it be enthusiasts or production people who use the tool properly. He was asked to take it down...but he hasn't.

As a kid...and even today...I still fly model rockets for friends and their kids. These rockets can go 2000' easily. Most...about 1000'. What about them ? Just because they can't fly for 15 minutes...does that make them not an issue. When I saw a plane in the area....I just waited until launch ! But that's a bit off-topic.

So what do we do as a community whom.....I guess understands the issues....but has the INTELLIGENCE to use this tool properly for the the work we do. Here's hoping the manufacturers continue to build the safety restrictions into their products (jetski brakes=max altitude settings) and if we need to take a test to prove we understand the issues and can fly the drone properly...I'm for it. But don't tell me I need a private pilots license.
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