FAA NPRM Conference Call February 15, 2015 – Notes


For those that were unable to get through to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making Conference Call, here is a summary and impressions:

FAA will create a new class of license for sUAS, there will be no medical examination requirement.

The test will be a written proficiency exam and testing will take place in multiple convenient locations. Licensed pilots will be required to take this test in addition to prior certifications.

In this class of 55 lbs and under there will be no airworthiness certification required. The FAA realizes the time it takes to go through airworthiness procedures and it would be too long based on current technology advancement rates.

There will be safety parameters indicated and all vehicles must operate with them. This is unclear as to whether this means a mandatory lost link Return To Home feature and/or other failsafe mechanisms.

The speaker addresses the 2 kilo/4.4 lb Micro sUAS Proposal and welcomes commentary. Insofar as the NPRM addresses most of the micro UAS class in this sweeping proposal of rulemaking, I would say that the remaining tasks of the micro UAS Proposal would revolve around beyond Line of Sight, First Person View restriction.

The question was asked as to how long before the NPRM would be adopted in some way. A timeline was not offered but we have at least 60 days to respond in writing. It is my knowledge that our/your response is desired but not in the manner of a form letter. When responding, presentation of data and its analysis is welcome and desired. It was clear that those responsible were interested in acting quickly from this point forth.

Key points were that FAA acknowledges that operating a UAV presents different challenges than operating manned aircraft.

No ruling on hobbyist activity. FAA states that as already regulated provided flying is done under the “Know Before You Fly” guidelines.

FAA stresses Education and Safety as paramount. Stated that they are performing “aggressive” research into beyond LOS UAS rulings

Emphasis on the NPRM as part of an evolving and iterative process.

I think it’s safe to say that I am not alone in feeling somewhat relieved by this NPRM as most expected something far more stringent and limited. I believe the New York City Drone Users Group and its more commercially driven members are now presented with an opportunity and responsibility to become more involved in rule making and to continue to act as ambassadors of the this growing industry.

I will be posting a response to the NPRM soon. Please share your thoughts and comments.

Washington Post – January 26, 2015

Screenshot 2015-01-26 12.54.36

This story running in the Washington Post is in response to a hobby scale quadcopter landing on the grounds of the White House. I’m quoted about 2/3 into the story.

While this incident is likely to cause legislators to tap the brakes on UAS integration, the fact is that ship has sailed. The technology is easily accessible, and relatively reliable at the hobbyist level. The operator that performed this stunt, at 3:00a no less, is in violation of many laws and should be prosecuted in my opinion.

Hopefully the GoPro camera onboard captured some pre-flight images of him or her about to be very stupid.

Scientific American August 29, 2014 – Are Personal Drones a Public Hazard?

Are Personal Drones a Public Hazard?Scientific American

To reiterate from my prior posting – I’m in the process of consolidating pre-blog media in one repository. Please bear with me as the time-line jumps around.

I had higher hopes for the content of this story – a deeper dive would have been nice given the audience but there’s clickbait of all kinds I suppose.

Nevertheless, get past the hyperbole and there are some good points made here.

NYCDUG in The Epoch Times – The Community is the thing

Although a bit heavy on tales of crashing, this is a pretty balanced and positive take on our group.

Fact is that we are at a place in sUAS development for civil and commercial use where manufacturing is done in factories making toys and consumer electronics. The reliability and durability, ie., the service life is short and the intended user is underserved and underestimated.

In the years I’ve been involved in UAS, I’ve seen a progression from those that became interested in it as a DIY endeavor because it’s fun, to users with real problems to solve. That embrace of the technology and the realization of what is ever more possible and practical is what will drive this forward and keep it safe.

Our consumer culture expects a product to work as promised with little fuss. When you pick up any smart phone, there is the expectation of functionality – it does what it says it will do. The need to become familiar with the interface is the only obstacle to successful use.

Currently, carrying that expectation when it comes to consumer drones will likely cause frustration in those unaccustomed. Outside of researchers and developers, the two main user segments that have adopted drone use with open arms are those best suited for its vagaries and shortcomings. The first group is radio control (R/C) enthusiasts; these are the people that are accustomed to building and tinkering and learning from failure. The second group consists of visual artists – photographers, filmmakers. Creative people think outside of the lines and see possibilities in things others may not ever consider. Visual Artists are accustomed to trying and failing as part of their process. What the two groups have in common is a passion for learning.

What I’ve witnessed as leader of NYCDUG is that creating and maintaining a community that shares successes and failures makes us all better at what we do with sUAS. It’s been said that the internet era has caused a lack of human connection for many, I must disagree. Without that broad reach we would not be able to pool so much experience and enable learning as we have. 2015-01-18 13.46.59

MSNBC Code Forward


Great experience talking ’bout drones with the hosts of Code Forward on yesterday. They presented a very balanced and clear eyed report on the current state of drone use and regulation and let me fly the Aries X10 Blackbird in the studio. No, you can’t touch it!