Drones

Hairy Dave's picture

Forwarded on behalf of Tom Hardie:

Hi All,

There has been a considerable increase in First Person View (FPV) unmanned aircraft (drone) flying. This is where the pilot of the drone is wearing a device so that they can see the view as if they were in the drone. Therefore they have an extremely limited view when it comes to avoiding other aircraft. These drones can be of a multi-copter or helicopter design, or fixed wing design, both powered and unpowered.

There have been a number of incidents where FPV drone flying has caused the pilots of other aircraft concern for their safety, everything from a 747 to a paraglider. To cater for this and to protect third parties on the ground the CAA has drawn up a set of rules for the drone pilots to follow. These rules are in CAA Official Record Series 4, Number 1108, http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode..., copy attached.

If you become aware of FPV flying on or near where you are flying the best thing to do is to talk to the pilot to establish safe operating procedures, which it should be possible to do without over limiting anybody’s flying. Due to the readily available equipment, limited training facilities, and/or a lack of aviation law awareness they may not know about the CAA document.

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StevenNicholls's picture

"Recreational drone users face jail if they endanger aircraft"

Recreational drone users face jail if they endanger aircraft, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has said, underlining how European regulators are seeking to contain a growing safety threat.

The CAA, which has launched a “DroneCode” awareness campaign. issued the warning after the latest in a series of near misses in European skies.

On Monday (20th July) a Lufthansa flight from Munich with 108 passengers on board nearly collided with a drone on its approach to Warsaw’s main airport.
The drone came within 100 metres of the Embraer 195 at a height of about 760 metres, the German airline and Polish Air Navigation Services Agency said.

In April, the CAA successfully prosecuted a man for flying a drone through restricted airspace over a nuclear submarine base in Cumbria, the first such prosecution in the world.

Tim Johnson, CAA director of policy, said: “Our cross-industry initiative launched today sets out the simple rules that all drone users should follow to ensure they comply with the law and support the safety of all airspace. If they do this they can avoid prosecution and a possible jail term or fine.”

One rule is that a drone must never be flown beyond the normal, unaided line of sight of the operator, usually 500m horizontally or 400ft vertically. In addition, a drone with a camera must be flown at least 50m from a person, vehicle, building or structure and not within 150m of a congested area or a large group of people, such as at a sporting event or a concert.

The use of drones has become increasing widespread across industries from film to sports events and agriculture. In response, the EU is working on rules to protect public safety and privacy that are expected to be presented in the autumn.

Individual countries have already taken steps. In June Germany introduced rules that prevent the use of drones within 1.5km of airport perimeter fences. Anyone wishing to fly a drone beyond that exclusion zone and in controlled airspace must request permission from air traffic authorities and fly no higher than 50 metres, depending on the size of the aircraft.

Mr Johnson said: “Drone users must understand when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world — a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders, light aircraft and now drones.”

A Drone Safety Awareness Day will mark the launch of a dedicated online resource where existing and potential users can access advice on safe drone operation.

Drone Aware

Drone Aware was actually posted back in March 2015 yet much earlier, CAA posted www.caa.co.uk/docs/1995/CAP%201202UAVsafetyrules.pdf

Problem is, many drone pilots consider the law a trivial matter and feel the neither the police, CAA or Ofcom are really that interested and to be honest, until someone gets hurt, I think they are right.

Consider that one Simon Dale is behind First Person View who amongst other components, sells the following; https://www.firstpersonview.co.uk/transmitters/5.8ghz/immersionrc-600mw

Why is this of interest? Well Ofcom legal limit is just 25mW on 5.8GHz for airborne use and for LOS FPV, that is just fine but many want to see how far they can fly, well beyond Line-Of-Sight, over congested areas and basically giving two fingers to the ANO. Here's the stock reply Mr Dale gives to his sales advisors when questions arise with regards to transmitter power:

Hi Rob,

Regarding amateur radio licences: An amateur licence is required to operate on 2.4GHz above 10mW and 5.8GHz above 25mW, however the Amateur Radio licence includes the clause "must not be operated from an aircraft". So it is legal to sell and buy the transmitters, but operation from the air would technically be outside of the remit of your licence.

The truth is that 99% of FPVers use equipment that is only legal for Radio Amateur Licence holders, but without the licence (and those that don’t use completely illegal gear from overseas). Their logic is apparently that they're in the middle of nowhere, transmitting for 15 minutes at a time, on legal frequencies (just a little over power), only when its daylight, only when the wind is light, etc. We're talking about 0.1W and 0.5W here - Radio Amateurs are allowed to transmit up to 400W. This is quite different to setting up 15,000W pirate radio station in the centre of London and transmitting 24/7 and is unlikely to cause interference to anyone, thus is unlikely to cause any complaints, thus will be of no concern to Ofcom (who work on complaints). Of course I couldn't possibly condone anything other than complete compliance with all of the rules.

All the best,

X

Until substantially more are successfully prosecuted, they really couldn't give two hoots and consider such offences as trivial. As far as the CAA goes, this new breed considers them killjoys.

Between the CAA and the police, neither can agree on who's responsible for enforcement and drone flyers know it!

Drone at the Dyke

Yesterday afternoon, after the flying was blown out, there was a sizable drone being flown at the head of the Dyke cutting.

EdBewley's picture

Observation

It is interesting that the observer has to maintain "direct unaided visual observation". Does that mean he or she cannot wear spectacles or contact lenses? Obviously binoculars would not be a good idea, but if you are getting on a bit like some of us, surely normal visual aids are better than none?

The point of the BHPA's awareness campaign is surely to give those who may be endangered the chance to do some of the educating that is not mandated for these devices, and talk to FPV drone pilots not using an observer to explain what the outcome might be for us and for them if they carry on breaking the law. It does not have to be confrontational I'm going to put a copy of the Exemption in the car just in case.

FPV and VLOS and Competent Observer rule

A note of clarification on this with regards to FPV and limited view.

The above CAA link is exemption to allow FPV with with a properly briefed observer. This is really quite important and is also a very easy way of identifying who is not playing by the rules.

Before this exemption, solo FPV would have been illegal because you'd breaking the law with regards to line-of-sight. This meant that the only way of doing FPV legally was to have a normal RC pilot in master control while the FPV pilot was slaved to the master controller who could take over at any time (BMFA buddybox system).

The exemption is a relaxation of this rule by allowed a 'competent' observer who must maintain VLOS throughout the flight and warn the FPV pilot of hazzards an obstacles etc along with the obvious; "your flying to far away !!"

I've yet to see any FPV pilot using an assigned observer but I've seen many flights well beyond VLOS and over congested areas to boot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAcIk6EEAZ8&feature=youtu.be (if you see unaided, this far, I'll be impressed)

It might be interesting to note who is behind promoting FPV in the UK, simon.dale@fpvuk.org

Supposedly, his dad wrote a book ;-)

I agree that many will not know the about the ANO etc but I feel that many more are more than aware but see it as little more than speeding.
CAA says we should report such conduct to the police but the police say these offences should be reported to the CAA so its all a bit of a mess.

In a nutshell, if you see a 'Solo' pilot with a remote and wearing silly goggles, then he's breaking the law.
That exemption has been renewed more than a few times now despite the fact that many never seem to have that all important observer.

Hope this helps