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Can Drones Really Get National Airspace Access?

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the hard-to-conquer-the-world-otherwise dept.

Security 107

coondoggie writes "There is a push by a variety of proponents to give unmanned aircraft more free rein in US airspace, but safety is a major hitch in that effort. The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which flies unmanned systems on border patrols, shows a total of 5,688 flight hours from Fiscal Year 2006 to July 13, 2010. The CBP accident rate is 52.7 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. This accident rate is more than seven times the general aviation accident rate (7.11 accidents/100,000 flight hours) and 353 times the commercial aviation accident rate (0.149 accidents/100,000 flight hours)." An FAA executive noted that an "accident" refers to a situation in which "the aircraft has done something unplanned or unexpected and violates an airspace regulation."

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107 comments

Uh, yeah (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 4 years ago | (#32932368)

The CPB isn't answerable to the FAA; nothing will happen to them if they violate airspace regulations. So of course they will have a much higher rate of violation than anyone who does.

Re:Uh, yeah (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | about 4 years ago | (#32932446)

Yeah, I'm only 100% against this. But it will probably happen. If only my opinions were more effective at influencing tangible objects and events...

Re:Uh, yeah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32934402)

Yeah, I'm only 100% against this. But it will probably happen. If only my opinions were more effective at influencing tangible objects and events...

Can anyone decipher what Kepesk said? It makes no sense to me.

Re:Uh, yeah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932738)

wait, what? The air force cooperates with FAA regulations because they like to use national air space, why would the CBP be any different?

Re:Uh, yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32933724)

I was under the impression that violating military airspace is very bad, and the FAA may not be the prosecuting agency.

Re:Uh, yeah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32933854)

I was under the impression that violating military airspace is very bad, and the FAA may not be the prosecuting agency.

Indeed. Violating military airspace will not involve the FAA to get you out. Fighters will intercept you, and if you do not willingly land with them, they will simply shoot you down. All important questions can be dealt with later.

Re:Uh, yeah (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#32934632)

Indeed. Violating military airspace will not involve the FAA to get you out. Fighters will intercept you, and if you do not willingly land with them, they will simply shoot you down.

Unless your aircraft is equipped with countermeasures, and you shoot back.

Re:Uh, yeah (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#32934988)

    Ummmm...

    According to AOPA in 2007 [aopa.org] , The majority of civilian aircraft are piston driven prop planes.


Single Piston - 145,036 (65%)
Multi Piston - 18,708 (8%)
Turbo Prop - 8,063 (3%)
Turbo Jet - 10,379 (4%)
Rotor - 9,159 (4%)
Experimental - 23,047 (10%)
Other 7,551 (3%)

    So, the odds are pretty good you're suggesting a single engine prop plane carrying weapons and countermeasures. No matter what you do to it, all it takes is a fast close flyby of a jet to send it into the ground. It doesn't even take firing weapons, but a civilian aircraft in military controlled airspace who refuses commands to land does run the risk of being invited to land in most ungraceful ways. I've never heard of it happening over American Airspace (Flight 93 conspiracy aside), but for the most part a civilian aircraft shootdown over controlled airspace could easily disappear and explained as an accident.

Re:Uh, yeah (2, Insightful)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 4 years ago | (#32935904)

Indeed. Violating military airspace will not involve the FAA to get you out. Fighters will intercept you, and if you do not willingly land with them, they will simply shoot you down.

Unless your aircraft is equipped with countermeasures, and you shoot back.

Fair enough. They would, however, proceed to shoot you down in a complicated fashion.

Re:Uh, yeah (3, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#32934548)

Really? They aren't, but the Air Force is?

No, they are, just like everyone else flying over US controlled airspace, they just don't play by the same rules as general aviation, which is why they have different licensing.

You should probably check your FARs.

They also have a higher violation rate because everything they do is on video and recorded by several people who won't loose their job because they strayed more than 500 feet off their flight plan, which, for the record, qualifies as an 'accident' to the FAA. They report the 'accident'.

When Bob and Tom flying their 747 for Delta deviate by a 1,000 feet, no one reports it because that little down draft if reported will ruin a guys career, but that is an accident to the FAA.

Re:Uh, yeah (2, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#32934672)

Hm... so if the DMV were more like the FAA.......

On your way travelling to your vacation spot, you take a small course deviation from your plan, and stop to get something to eat and do some extra touring. Oops! Accident

The road's closed, so you backtrack and take a different path. Oops! Accident

You get behind a slow car, so you decide to pass them, using the vacant left lane. Oops! That's an accident

The whether gets really nasty so you slow down, causing your arrival time to be wrong.. Oops! Accident

Some jerk pulls out in front of you, so you slam on your breaks, and barely manage to avoid hitting them. Oops! Accident

You get to a road where the speed limit is 45 due to an unannounced change from 65, according to your travel plan, you will travel at 65... oops Accident no matter what speed you travel. (You travel 45, it's an accident because you failed to follow your plan; you travel 65, then it's an accident because you disobeyed the road space regulations)

Re:Uh, yeah (1)

jsurmont (1712172) | about 4 years ago | (#32935200)

Ignorance isn't bliss in this case. This is a an issue that is going to eventually become a monster and many people don't really understand it. I've been watching some posts here and want to stop the misinformation. If you seriously want to understand what's going on in the Unmanned Systems space and get a no bullshit download, start with reading these three blog posts. "Size does matter" http://tinyurl.com/29ddu6p [tinyurl.com] "Information Infrastructure" http://tinyurl.com/255ugv9 [tinyurl.com] "Put it on a tether" http://tinyurl.com/2fedjtw [tinyurl.com]

Working on FAA certification (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | about 4 years ago | (#32932372)

Re:Working on FAA certification (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#32933534)

Wouldn't ADS-B solve a lot of these problems as well?

Not just haptics (Re:Working on FAA certification) (2, Interesting)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 4 years ago | (#32933958)

I don't think it is just a matter of haptic feedback, it's also one of the pilots having their own lives on the line. Everyone will tell you "I would never put anyone's life at risk; I would treat it as my own", but you only have to look at the decisions leading up to the two space shuttle crashes, where managers avoided and ignored clear evidence of danger, to realize that we don't work this way. I would guess that even the threat of the death penalty for causing a fatal accident would not be as effective in concentrating the mind as actually being in the cockpit because, regardless of how much rational analysis you put into it, judgement in risky situations (including the recognition that a situation has become risky) is ultimately an emotional one, and emotions are heavily influenced by the situation we are in (we haven't evolved to operate dangerous machinery by remote control.)

The fact that these are merely regulations violations is no excuse; when violations are high, the chances of real accidents is raised - this is being underscored as we learn more about the corporate culture of BP and also Massey Mining.

Caveat (2, Insightful)

ceraphis (1611217) | about 4 years ago | (#32932398)

Just because there's nobody in the cockpit doesn't mean there isn't somebody wanking a joystick with malicious intent somewhere.

Re:Caveat (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#32932626)

So does the drone have a radio relay back to the pilot on the ground; so the pilot can talk to the air traffic controllers in the area of the drone?

I dunno, just wondering.

Re:Caveat (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#32933072)

Just because there's a person in the cockpit doesn't mean their intent is good.

Re:Caveat (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | about 4 years ago | (#32933300)

but generally the person was trained to know that the lives of others, (including their own) is at stake.

just because SOME people don't value their lives, doesn't mean most don't!

Re:Caveat (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#32933688)

Malicious intent is its own problem. What I worry about is the UAV pilot who doesn't have his own life at stake and won't worry about a few little fuck-ups that would kill him if he was flying IRL.

I also worry about the quality of the video and associated uplink that the UAV pilot is depending on. We just had a USCG helicopter snag a power line and go down near here. Only one survivor (thanks to nearby boaters). If they can't see a power line on a clear day in person, what's their video going to look like?

Re:Caveat (3, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#32934006)

Only one survivor (thanks to nearby boaters).

Wow, where was this?

I definitely wouldn't want to go boating there, if they're that territorial...

Re:Caveat (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935926)

What I worry about is the UAV pilot who doesn't have his own life at stake and won't worry about a few little fuck-ups that would kill him if he was flying IRL.

You mean if he was airborne. We're talking about pilots who are flying "IRL", albeit from the ground. If it was other-than-IRL, we wouldn't care. In fact, we don't care if somebody crashes in a flight sim. It happens every day.

I wonder... (5, Funny)

thewise1 (955170) | about 4 years ago | (#32932426)

...is firing a hellfire missile a airspace regulation violation?

Re:I wonder... (3, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 years ago | (#32932590)

Only if you didn't file a flight plan for the missile at least one week in advance *ducks*

Re:I wonder... (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | about 4 years ago | (#32933416)

Took a private jet with 6 hours notice last week... A week in advance?

Re:I wonder... (2, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 years ago | (#32934354)

Well, the FAA is notoriously biased against missiles. And you don't want to know how much flak you get just for building a small AA battery in your backyard.

Re:I wonder... (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 4 years ago | (#32935932)

Alkaline, lead, lithium, or citrus? It is kinda hard to get the form factor down on a shoe string budget, though.

(jk)

Re:I wonder... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 years ago | (#32935188)

*ducks*

Looks like a missile fly didn't register its flight plan in time and flew too close to your head.

Re:I wonder... (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#32934636)

Obtaining a hellfire missile, or even thinking about firing one off is an airspace regulation violation.

Here's a prediction (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#32932480)

In ten years, most of the unmanned aircraft in domestic airspace will not be from the military, but from private enterprise which (by definition) doesn't have an allegiance to any nation or state. As is the case in most situations (I believe) there's a bigger threat to our security, our privacy, our way of life and our freedom from transnational corporations than from "big government".

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#32932504)

Google SkyView (TM), awesome. Targeted air to surface advertisements!

Re:Here's a prediction (2, Insightful)

Kepesk (1093871) | about 4 years ago | (#32932536)

Yes, absolutely. The faults of "big government" are caused by those transnational corporations bribing our politicians (or to put it politely, "Lobbying").

I wish more people would see this, but guess what issue is least accurately covered by the transnational corporate media? "Lobbying".

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | about 4 years ago | (#32933110)

are caused by those transnational corporations bribing our politicians (or to put it politely, "Lobbying").

Unions would never bribe(lobby) our politicions.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?txt=P01&cycle=2010 [opensecrets.org]
Home Influence & Lobbying PACs Labor
In Influence & Lobbying
Save/Share:
PrintE-mail
PACs
Labor
PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates
Total Amount: $38,145,981
Total to Democrats: $35,533,039 (93%)
Total to Republicans: $2,577,692 (7%)
Number of PACs making contributions: 76

Hmmmm, lets try:
http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?txt=Q01&cycle=2010 [opensecrets.org]
Home Influence & Lobbying PACs Ideological/Single-Issue
PACs
Ideological/Single-Issue
PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates.
Total Amount: $27,593,911
Total to Democrats: $14,981,766 (54%)
Total to Republicans: $12,418,859 (45%)
Number of PACs making contributions: 68

Abortion Policy/Pro-Choice: $318,014 graphgraph 78% to Dems / 22% to Repubs
Abortion Policy/Pro-Life: $71,941 graphgraph 8% to Dems / 85% to Repubs
Democratic/Liberal: $1,299,340 graphgraph 99% to Dems / 1% to Repubs
Environment: $281,552 graphgraph 90% to Dems / 10% to Repubs
Foreign & Defense Policy: $394,227 graphgraph 71% to Dems / 28% to Repubs
Gun Control: $2,750 graphgraph 100% to Dems / 0% to Repubs
Gun Rights: $508,698 graphgraph 29% to Dems / 71% to Repubs
Human Rights: $1,168,960 graphgraph 87% to Dems / 13% to Repubs
Leadership PACs: $19,269,785 graphgraph 51% to Dems / 48% to Repubs
Misc Issues: $865,836 graphgraph 68% to Dems / 31% to Repubs
Pro-Israel: $1,640,898 graphgraph 62% to Dems / 38% to Repubs
Republican/Conservative: $1,475,409 graphgraph 0% to Dems / 97% to Repubs
Women's Issues: $296,501 graphgraph 86% to Dems / 14% to Repubs


I like how you chose to ignore non business lobbying in your statement. Could it be your a hypocrite?
Quit being a typical liberal, state ALL the facts. Not just some of them to make your point.

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 4 years ago | (#32935368)

We should just make lobbying punishable by the death penalty.

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 4 years ago | (#32935956)

On a more serious note, it would be really nice to make lobbying illegal for non-US legal entities. If your headquarters really are a small suite in an office building on a Caribbean island, and you feel like you ought not pay US taxes because of it, you shouldn't be allowed access to our lawmakers.

Re:Here's a prediction (2, Insightful)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | about 4 years ago | (#32936200)

I think the reasonable thing to do would be to make all lobbying public. All lobbyists to have *all* contact with politicians and staffers recorded and published in an electronic format.

This means that all attempts at twisting information would be at least in theory possible to uncover; and that if there is any significant amount of them, a lot *would* be uncovered, creating some fear of this in the lobbyists (and thus reducing it overall).

If we were to enforce this well, deliberate lying or twisting the truth should be considered treason. And deliberately being uninformed in order to avoid this should also be considered treason.

The wordnet definition of treason is:

  • a crime that undermines the offender's government
  • disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
  • treachery: an act of deliberate betrayal

... and I think it fits rather well.

Re:Here's a prediction (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#32937008)

I think the reasonable thing to do would be to make all lobbying public.

It was called the DISCLOSE Act and it just passed the congress and was signed into law.

The Republicans are promising to repeal it as soon as possible, saying it "violates the 1st Amendment" to force corporations to disclose their political spending.

They just can't get it through their heads that corporations are not the same as people. There's no language in the Constitution that would indicate that corporations are the same as individuals and have the same rights. And yes, there were big transnational corporations in the late 1700s.

Or maybe it's not that the GOP can't get it through their heads that corporations are not persons, but they just don't care because their political future depends upon the complete corporate takeover of government. While there are individual Democrats who also hitch their wagon to the corporatocracy, only the GOP makes is a central part of their entire platform. Significantly, the public is against this unlimited corporate political spending as created by the Citizens United case by nearly 80%, but the media has done an impressive job of obfuscating the issue.

The wordnet definition of treason is:

        * a crime that undermines the offender's government
        * disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
        * treachery: an act of deliberate betrayal

This definition is perfectly descriptive of the Right in America. When they say they are "anti-government" it's not the French government they're talking about. So the Right in America, the GOP, Limbaugh, Palin, etc are directly in opposition to the US Government, by their own admission.

Spartan rules (1)

nten (709128) | about 4 years ago | (#32937758)

When the elected leader of Sparta stepped down after his term he was put on trial for abuse of power. The burden was upon the former leader to prove that he had not abused the power he had been given over the last year. A guilty verdict was death.

That might be a bit much. However, if a candidate vowed that if elected he would donate all of his future wages over the poverty line, to charity such and such for the rest of his life, and then did it? If the next person to win did similarly and the string held for a few, then the first person to do otherwise would face significant pressure. It might become law, as did presidential term limits. Can you imagine a nation where all people capable of manipulating policy towards their own ends were required to make life-long vows of poverty, and got biannual IRS audits to make sure they didn't receive "gifts" or were living outside their means? There would still be bad apples, but I suspect the type of people who would run for office would be different.

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 4 years ago | (#32935474)

That's an interesting site. Is there anyone else isn't buying that bribes have decreased by 2/3rds from 1998?

http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php [opensecrets.org]

Looks like they are getting better at keeping the numbers off opensecrets.org.

Re:Here's a prediction (0, Troll)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | about 4 years ago | (#32936940)

I noticed the decrease in the number of lobbyists. I also noticed that the total amount spent is lower, much. But hey, unlike you. I reconize that the fucking year isn't half over yet.

You know asshole, 2010. It's only July.

If you don't have evidence to dispute the numbers,shut the fuck up asshole.

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 4 years ago | (#32937112)

I didn't even contradict your point and I'm already an asshole eh?

But since you want to go there. I note your numbers show $35 mil from unions. Doesn't sound like much compared to the $3.5 Billion your corporate friends spent. I'm also not sure the GP would consider $35mil of mob money contributions to be particularly relevant in the first place. The unions aka mob is really just an under the table corporation fscking us.

Here are some other interesting things.. from that site.

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?cycle=2010&ind=B02 [opensecrets.org]

407/435 House members were bought by the TV/MUSIC/MOVIE division of the copyright cartel.

86/100 Senators were also bought by the TV/MUSIC/MOVIE portion of the copyright cartel.

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=B01++&goButt2.x=8&goButt2.y=8&goButt2=Submit [opensecrets.org]

315/435 House members were bought by the Printing and Publishing division of the copyright cartels.

74/100 Senators

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=C5120&goButt2.x=10&goButt2.y=12&goButt2=Submit [opensecrets.org]

311/435 House Goes to the software division of the copyright cartels

67/100 Senate to the software division.

If you cross index that, I wonder what total portion of congress has sold out.

All in all, it looks like they have sold out pretty cheap too... at least in the reported numbers.

Re:Here's a prediction (0, Troll)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | about 4 years ago | (#32936978)

NOTE: Figures are on this page are calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on April 25, 2010.

Learn to fucking read.

Learn to comprehend what the fuck you read.

Learn to provide evidence to support your fucking argument if you disagree what the evidence put forth.

Fucking asshole

Homophones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935980)

Could it be your a hypocrite?

your != you're

"your" is the second person possessive.
"you're" is a contraction of "you are". Note that the apostrophe substitutes for missing letters and sounds.

Not just some of them to make your point.

This is the correct usage, even if this isn't a complete sentence.

Re:Here's a prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932848)

Care to back that assertion up with ANY facts?

Re:Here's a prediction (2, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#32933312)

When considering threats to our liberties, Constitutional protections, and property, the difference between transnational corporations and "big government" is immaterial and indistinguishable.

Both are to be feared and resisted. Equally. In fact, they act alike, and are too often in collusion.

Trust no one.

Re:Here's a prediction (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about 4 years ago | (#32934350)

Right. In theory, if federal bureaucracies get bad enough, people vote against the politicians that fund them. With powerful corporations, the best people can do is vote for politicians who promise to direct the bureaucracies to obstruct the corporations. There's one more level of indirection there, which gives the corporations more free reign.

Of course, unrestrained government power and corporate power are both bad, so we have to fight them both.

Re:Here's a prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935038)

"(I believe) there's a bigger threat to our security, our privacy, our way of life and our freedom from transnational corporations than from "big government".

Mull this over :

Transnational corporations ARE big government.

Yes, this is frightening, but that does not mean it is not also true.

0.000 deaths per 100,000 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932490)

You might say "Hey, how about all those Al Qaeda and Taliban guys! That's a lot of deaths!" But remember, we aren't smashing the planes into them. Deaths per hour flight time of hellfire missile is another story. 2x10^6 deaths /100,000 hours flight time?

Small sample (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932526)

Running the numbers, that means they're looking at 3 incidents in 4 years. That seems like a pretty meaningless exercise to me, especially then comparing that number to commercial flight with millions of hours logged.

Re:And Extrapolation? (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32932636)

shows a total of 5,688 flight hours from Fiscal Year 2006 to July 13, 2010. The CBP accident rate is 52.7 accidents per 100,000 flight hours

Wait - so they haven't logged 100,000 flight hours, under 6,000 - and you are extrapolating up to 100,000?

This reminds me of an XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:And Extrapolation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32933472)

Stating a rate of occurrence in per 100,000 or PPM or PPB (using a standard denominator) when you have not looked at a million or a billion things is a standard practice.

But keeping three sig figs for the numerator is pretty dubious.

Re:And Extrapolation? (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | about 4 years ago | (#32935312)

There were 5,688 flight hours in the past 4 years, and only 3 accidents. Claiming that the CBP is 52.7 accidents per 100,000 years is preposterous. They might as well just say 52.742616. I'm not a statistician, but like the GP said, it is absurd to use three significant figures here. It is very unlikely that the accident rate will scale up with standard use. It is much more likely that these accidents happen more often as the system is first used and the kinks are worked out.

Who Needs Microsoft For Disasters When You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932548)

have these threats [wikipedia.org] ?

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore Trout

Restrictions (1, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 4 years ago | (#32932578)

What the "Authorities" will do is to restrict the airspace around the drones in the "national interest". This way a bunch of donut eating policemen can fly million dollar drones to hunt some dirtbags slinging $10 bags of weed.

Re:Restrictions (3, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | about 4 years ago | (#32933678)

Yeah, that's a meme isn't it? All authority figures are fascist thugs (particularly the ones that are actually everyday people)?

Or is that meme over on slashdot?

Re:Restrictions (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | about 4 years ago | (#32934022)

Yeah, that's a meme isn't it? All authority figures are fascist thugs (particularly the ones that are actually everyday people)?

Or is that meme over on slashdot?

"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"
John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834-1902)

I didn't know that was a Slashdot meme. The Baron must have a really low user id.

Re:Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32934356)

Just because someone said something at some point in time doesn't make it apply in all cases.

Re:Restrictions (1)

mydn (195771) | about 4 years ago | (#32934416)

Power corrupts; and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely!

Re:Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935398)

"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"

That's why we don't give power to the people.

Re:Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935798)

You fail to realise that the fascist thugs are everyday people, with families, and children that love them and lookup to them. They go to the Big Game, they drink beer with the guys, go shopping, etc. That's why unaccountable authoritarianism is the Banality of Evil. It is everyday, 'normal'. Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment for example - normal everyday people can do the most barbaric of things to others if they are not held accountable.
 

Another excuse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32932592)

Sounds like the Obamanuts looking for another reason not to enforce the border!

What about... (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#32932662)

...unaircrafted men (flying superheroes)? You know that will be coming eventually. Either through sophisticated jet-boots, or (my personal favorite) spontaneous emergence of superpowers.

Driving statistics? (1)

Issildur03 (1173487) | about 4 years ago | (#32932732)

Anybody know of similar stats for driving?

Quick look-up [dot.gov] gives 1.25 fatalities/100 million miles traveled for 2008. Haphazard calculating gives 60 accidents/100,000 hours driving (50mph, 1 fatality in 1000 accidents).

Hard to compare, though.

Of couse they can... (1)

Biljrat (45007) | about 4 years ago | (#32932764)

A few hundred thousand in political donations from drone manufacturers is all it will take to get it done.

I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1, Troll)

e2d2 (115622) | about 4 years ago | (#32932766)

*Warning* tangential rant below:

I'm impressed. They managed to get a worse safety record than General Aviation (GA). Kind of hard to believe considering how many terrible pilots I've seen out there. Radio calls? optional. Pattern? Straight in, screw everyone else. Traffic Frequency? For chatting. Maintenance? That's too expensive. Checklists? I'm good at remembering stuff. Etc. Safety is always stressed in aviation but yet we see people regularly getting themselves into tough spots and crashing. It's the constant struggle.

It doesn't help that a lot of the public thinks we shouldn't even be flying general aviation, and flying should only be done by "professionals" with commercial carriers and large airplanes. So we strive to maintain a safety-conscious mindset and try to educate the public on our efforts.

Now , let me just get down off this soap box. Oh yeah, UAVs. Those are cool! Except when they crash.

See and Avoid (1)

amstrad (60839) | about 4 years ago | (#32932908)

The national airspace system relies heavily on "See and Avoid". Even in Class A airspace, "see and avoid" overrules all other clearances. How are UAVs going to accomplish that?

Re:See and Avoid (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#32933094)

A camera on the front of the drone, instead of on the bottom.

Re:See and Avoid (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | about 4 years ago | (#32934856)

The fact that these suckers don't have a near-360 field of vision and matching video helmets shows us that the people in control of this project are assholes.

Re:See and Avoid (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | about 4 years ago | (#32933236)

SC-203
Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Many federal agencies and commercial operators are currently operating or seeking authority to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS). SC-203 products will help assure the safe, efficient and compatible operation of UAS with other vehicles operating within the NAS. SC-203 recommendations will be based on the premise that UAS and their operations will not have a negative impact on existing NAS users.

http://www.rtca.org/comm/Committee.cfm?id=45 [rtca.org]

Dave

Re:See and Avoid (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#32933540)

ADS-B. Except "seeing" will be receiving telemetry from other nearby aircraft.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_dependent_surveillance-broadcast [wikipedia.org]

Re:See and Avoid (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | about 4 years ago | (#32933598)

Except for aircraft without a transponder...

Dave

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 years ago | (#32933022)

Kind of hard to believe considering how many terrible pilots I've seen out there.

And yet, even with all those despicable actions taken by pilots, the general safety record of Single-engine piston based General Aviation is roughly the same as the safety record of automobiles, despite flight being an inherently much riskier activity. While any failure rate could be improved, most people here are comfortable with the relative risks involved with driving from point A to point B, and the relative risk of getting from point A to point B is about the same in a private plane as a car by actual DOT statistics.

Wanna improve your odds when flying private?

1) Don't run out of gas. Seriously, almost 1/3 of fatalities involve (gulp!) running out of the stuff. I DO my checklist EVERY time I fly, and I don't take off without knowing exactly how much fuel is on board, EVER.

2) Don't fly into storms. About 1/5 of fatalities involve icing and thunderstorms. Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (4, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#32933264)

Thank you for pointing this stuff out.

People tend to look at broad statistics and believe that's them. Realistically, there are many things that good pilots do to considerably improve their safety statistics. Because of the differences in equipment and a single engine, its simply not reasonable to believe a SE plane can ever be as statistically safe as a commercial, multi-engine plane. But, it is reasonable and very likely for good pilots in well maintained aircraft to fly statistically safer than those driving in vehicles on the ground.

Contrary to popular belief, flying in a small plane is not a death sentence.

Most of the things that kill people in small planes are really, really, stupid behaviors which, for whatever reason, some pilots decide doesn't apply to them. For whatever reason, some pilots really do believe they are immune to the reality of physics and can't run out of gas...or believe their wings can stay on inside a hurricane...or believe they can recovery from a spin despite the manufacturer clearly stating it can't be done safely and reproducibly...so on and so on. Idiots like these lowest the safety statistics. But if you're not with a pilot who does dumb stuff like that, in a well maintained plane, your odds of remaining safe are dramatically improved.

Another killer are twin engine pilots who believe they are inherently safer because they have a second engine. Statistically these guys kill far more people than SE planes. Statistically, if a twin engine pilot has fewer than 100 hours annually, they are more dangerous than low proficiency, low hour SE pilots. The reality is, single engine failure in a piston twin is a bitch for most experienced pilots. For those less experienced and proficient, its usually lethal. So don't even let a twin pilot tell you they are inherently safe because they are full of shit if they do. In fact, that's likely reason to be very wary.

And contrary to popular belief, flying can be fairly affordable. The average non-commercial, private pilot makes less than $40K a year. The average plane owner makes less than $80K a year. And even with a headwind, a typical small, SE plane is still faster than ground transportation - and a hell of a lot more fun!

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (3, Insightful)

Gavin Scott (15916) | about 4 years ago | (#32933956)

Anyone with an interest in aviation safety should be able to entertain themselves for hours with the NTSB database of accident reports:

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/month.asp [ntsb.gov]

Reading about other people's bad luck and capacity for self-delusion and occasionally pure boneheaded stupidity can be both entertaining and enlightening. Better than most reality TV anyway :)

G.

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 years ago | (#32934358)

Just curious: what do you fly?

I put about 40 hours/year in a C-182 in my flight club.

Strangely, it's actually much cheaper for me to "have" a private plane in the flight club than it is to pay for my 2005 Toyota Matrix, [howstuffworks.com] and it's just a little economy car!

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#32937820)

The ultra economical Mooney. [wikipedia.org] Most Mooneys gets better economy, at roughly 2x-3x the speed, than most larger vehicles.

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32936166)

The reality is, single engine failure in a piston twin is a bitch for most experienced pilots.

For those of us who aren't pilots, could you elaborate on why? Are twin engines more accident prone because the pilots think they are safer and are thus doing riskier things or is there something that makes twin engine inherently more dangerous?

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (2, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 years ago | (#32937378)

In order to remain safely in flight, a plane has what's called a "performance envelope" - it's the range of conditions during which a plane can still safely fly. Go too slow, the plane falls out of the sky. (stalls) Go too fast, parts start falling off. Turn too sharply, you overstress the airframe, etc. etc.

When a twin engine plane loses 50% of its power, it suddenly behaves very differently. It climbs very slowly, making it easy to go too slow and stall. It pulls sharply to one side, forcing the pilot to compensate with very heavy rudder action. These and other, related factors make it very likely that the pilot will make a mistake that takes the plane out of its performance envelope and crash. Pilots of twins are much more likely to try to keep flying the plane rather than land it safely off-field.

Combine that with the fact that twice the engines mean that it's twice as likely to have an engine failure, and you end up with a confluence of factors that actually decrease safety by a significant volume.

Compare this to a single-engine plane: Engine's out = "Where's the best place to land?" Pretty simple decision, during which time the plane is gliding smoothly, it's quiet, and there is only one choice to make. The vast majority of the time, even over mountains and/or populated cities, there's a safe place to land! Freeways/roads, fields, even the roof of a large building can all make good emergency landing spots in a pinch. In General Aviaation, less than 10% of "forced landings" result in fatalities.

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#32937766)

Well said!

I want to stress the "It pulls sharply to one side, forcing the pilot to compensate with very heavy rudder action.", part of what you said. Most engines failures occur during take off and landing, which is in it self, the most dangerous profile of every flight; if for no other reason then relative altitude to the ground.

When a single engine fails during these profiles, the period in which the pilot has to not only react but to react properly is exceedingly small - even for SE planes. This added to the fact that the engine is typically producing its highest torque which creates its largest force on the plane, without one to counteract and while close to the ground means your sphincter is likely very unhappy during these events.

Add to the fact that more engines typically mean larger carrying capacity which usually translates into larger passenger loads means when the pilot screws up, they are far more likely to kill additional people; and more of them.

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#32937778)

Also read this reply. [slashdot.org]

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32937544)

There was an article in AOPA some time ago about this very thing. It seems that emergency landings in SE aircraft are several orders more survivable than Multi-engined aircraft. They brought up a few good points.

1. When your engine fails in a single-engine, you automatically go into emergency landing mode immediately, and are thus much better prepared (and lined up) for your inevitable crash landing.

2. During the emergency landing itself. The occupants seem to stand a much better chance of survival when they have a heavy engine in the front of the aircraft pushing tree limbs out of the way & punching through fences & whatnot... whereas a in a multi-engine aircraft theres little more than a sheet of aluminum & some instruments between you & whatever you might hit.

3. Multi-engine aircraft generally fly faster... which means they crash faster too.

I used to rent (really cheap) an old Cessna 150 commuter. It ran like hell, nothing on it worked that wasnt required by law... it got the bare legal minimums of maintenance & care... but it wasnt that big a deal since if you did crash, you'd do it at 35mph. I couldve landed that thing cross-ways in a 2 car driveway & the wife wouldnt even have to move her car, so it was okay that it sometimes sputtered & coughed a bit.

Its not hitting the ground that kills you, its hitting the ground -really hard- that kills you.

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 4 years ago | (#32933464)

". Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)"

i would bet that There's an Ap for that! if not then GET CRACKING PROGRAMMERS 8-)

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32934524)

Wanna improve your odds when flying private?

... Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)

So do you make the call on your cellphone while you are driving to the airport?

:->

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32935552)

the general safety record of Single-engine piston based General Aviation is roughly the same as the safety record of automobiles

When the hell did it get that bad?

Re:I'm impressed, they are worse than GA (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#32933056)

"Oh yeah, UAVs. Those are cool! Except when they crash."

It's early in the learning curve, and we should remember that UAVs are still in their infancy. When manned aircraft were young, they killed lots of operators. The technology was worth the casualties.

It's not time to let UAVs in CONUS airspace...yet.

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32933060)

Drones are not as capable as human pilots in many situations, but they have their own strengths, pre-defined flying patterns come to mind.

You want to do a search grid, a human pilot can get the job done, but a drone, properly programmed, can do so much more precisely and predictably.
Weather surveys, un-armed patrols, surveillance, search-and-rescue operations, whether or not the drone is actively under remote control or flying itself.

There are uses for these things besides carrying weapons.

Re:Why not? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | about 4 years ago | (#32933372)

Pre-defined by what? assuming all the instrumentation works correctly every time, and that the systems that provide those instruments data are correct every time, we shouldn't have a problem.

except errors occur. it's a fact of life.

UAVs are not ready for unrestricted use (5, Interesting)

ManicMechanic (238107) | about 4 years ago | (#32933082)

I am a military Helicopter pilot and I have literally come back with a UAV sticking out of the side of my aircraft after a mid-air with a small drone. There are lots of growing pains with these things, and they are no where ready for integration in the national airspace system. A growing conflict with military use of UAVs is that they are often being operated by non-pilots(cheaper to train). In many cases the smallest drones are operated by infantrymen who throw these things into the air and rely on big sky theory to separate them from the aircraft providing Close Air Support. Non-pilots typically have less diversity of experience and a lot less air-sense when it comes to situational awareness.

The most likely user of this technology is Law Enforcement. The last thing civil aviation needs is some jack-hole beat cop throwing these things into the air to look for a guy on a stolen bicycle and have a mid-air with an airliner on approach because he dose not understand what is going on above him, or have any responsibility for his actions because his personal safety is not directly tied to the operation of his aircraft. They cant be trusted to use tazers, why the heck would we give them UAVs?

Re:UAVs are not ready for unrestricted use (-1, Flamebait)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32933316)

The nice man on Fox told me that, if we don't, a drug smuggling illegal mexican will lay an al qaeda anchor baby in my bed while I sleep.

Only absolute trust in, and obedience to, the desires of our security forces can secure freedom...

Re:UAVs are not ready for unrestricted use (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32933960)

There are several versions of UAV's - the "throw to launch" version is essentially an enhanced remote controlled airplane in terms of operating environment. Ban them within 10 miles of airports and call it a day. More problematic are the predator sized drones that actually fly high enough and are large enough to worry about collisions that could actually damage other things. I guess the some fundamental questions are what is the tasking - is this to replace/augment police helicopters or is this to be an overhead motorcycle cop analog? Very different rules of operation/hazards with each tasking.

I would mod you to 6 (4, Insightful)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 4 years ago | (#32934010)

...if that were possible

Re:UAVs are not ready for unrestricted use (1)

Dravik (699631) | about 4 years ago | (#32934454)

One of the major sectors looking at UAVs is municipal mapping/surveying departments. It is very expensive and time consuming to pay for normal plane imagery overflights. Expensive enough that most cities can only afford it every 5-7 years. Being able to throw up a UAV and get accurate and (relatively) cheap imagery/survey/elevation data for the new mall/office building/tornado destruction would be very helpful.

Re:UAVs are not ready for unrestricted use (2, Interesting)

FlyingGuy (989135) | about 4 years ago | (#32934678)

Being a civilian pilot myself and also a Navy vet oh boy do I feel your pain. lol!

Even with the larger predator type drones, even those who are good pilots flying them from the ground have (through no fault of their own ) poor situational awareness as far as the actual flying goes. When you sit in the glass bubble your peripheral vision is in full swing, you can scan the sky and the instruments. Flying a drone must be a lot like flying something like MS Flight Simulator, yes you can get different views from different "cameras" or in the case of a drone, actual cameras but those fall far behind the Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeball for getting the bigger picture.

UAV Safety is Known - and Poor (5, Informative)

mgooderum (446711) | about 4 years ago | (#32933304)

I'm a pilot, paramedic and software engineer. My flying is personal but I try to take a "professional" approach. I agree that there are a lot of not so great pilots out there but the most basic pilot has had a bunch more training than 99.99% of the drivers out there. A typical "commercial" pilot with a commercial certification and an instrument rating (and typically multi-engine in both) has about 3-5 times the training typically required for a CDL.

Pilots and the flying industry are one of the most regulated endeavors in modern society. A good chunk of those regulations are "written in blood" from past accidents. Besides a few thousand pages of official FAA regulations there are thousdand more in ACs, TSOs and even industry standards like SAE, Milstd, ASTM, RTCC, etc. One big part of the problem is there are no standards for UAVs or UAV operators.

Flying is still heavily dependent on "see and avoid". The reality is we probably still avoid as many or more crashes from "big sky theory" than "see and avoid". The people who want to fly UAVs mostly want to fly them where the risk is highest - down low and over population areas. Also the UAV accident rate isn't as sparse as it sounds. There are well over 100,000 hours factoring in overseas usage. Even if you subtract out combat or unknown losses the accident rate of the UAV business is abysmal. Remember this is the industry that gave us unencrypted classified combat video. Check out http://www.homeland1.com/homeland-security-products/unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uav/articles/847069-accident-reports-show-us-drone-aircraft-plagued-with-problems/.

The argument that there is no pilot so the risk is minimal is disturbing. A predator is almost 30' long and a 48' wingspan - 1200# empty and over a ton fully loaded. This is comparable to most 4 seat trainers. Several of the private drones are smaller but have even less QA and little to no redundancy.

The first and only NSTB report on a drone crash is at http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief2.asp?ev_id=20060509X00531&ntsbno=CHI06MA121&akey=1. It cites the typical chain of errors as well as a series of poor design decisions. It also notes the wreckage path indicated a flat approach and a wreckage path of almost 100' with jet fuel scattered around the crash site (there was no ignition). The operations console being used had suffered approximately 16 lockups in the 4 months prior to the crash and suck lockups were viewed as normal and acceptable. The normal "lost link" procedure normally keeps the aircraft flying a predetermined route over unpopulated areas until control was restablished but improper recovery on the crash failure caused the engine to be turned off.

The lost link route procedure was called out in the NTSB report: "Another contractor, Organizational Strategies, Inc. (OSI), provided the coordinates for the lost-link waypoints to CBP. OSI reported that it developed the waypoints using an Internet satellite website. CBP reported that it also used the same Internet satellite website to verify the location of the waypoints. According to this website, some of the website's imagery is 1 to 3 years old. Neither OSI nor CBP used additional methods to confirm that the waypoints were not located over populated areas." No indication of the resolution of the satellite imagry used - and no requirement for direct verification.

In fairness the CBP is actually one of the more rigourous operators of UAVs. Their pilots are required to be certificated pilots with at least 200 hours of actualy flying time and 200 hours of UAS flying time. They also use specific TFRs to provide seperation and maintain contact and obtain clearances from ATC. Not all FAA "Certificates of Authority" require this level of coordination or training. Many smaller operators operate close enough to the ground or restricted terrain or existing restricted airspace viewed to not interfere with existing flight activity.

The simple reality is the UAV industry is about where manned flight was in the 30s. They have moved faster than expected and the accident rates are high. The absolute accident counts per year will continue to increase with the skyrocketing usage and yes political pressure may well loosen the reins as they currently apply. Sadly real regulation will probably only come when it is written in the blood of future crash victims. I think the highest risks (both privacy and safety) come from the LEO community which will operate at very low altitudes over densely populated areas. If UAVs are allowed into controlled airspace it will be at the risk and peril of the flying public - or at the loss of vast amounts of airspace to TFRs and similar restrictions.

The airspace situation will eventually resolve in the next 10 years as ADS-B rolls out and we end our long overdue reliance on the imperfect dotrine of see and avoid. But this won't help the poor schmuks on the ground when one of these things crashes. Like anything else - somebody eventually will get killed, and the inevitable see-saw of cost-benefits and technology improvements will continue their see saw in the type and amount of safety we are willing to buy.
-=-
Mark

FedEx Drones to land in your driveway... (1)

Gavin Scott (15916) | about 4 years ago | (#32934084)

Back in 2001/2002 or somewhere thereabouts, I got to attend a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) meeting. This was the same meeting where I saw the most amazing presentation I've ever seen, Brad Edwards presenting his work on the Space Elevator. (It's also where I ended up with up Buzz Aldrin's name badge as a souvenir, but that's another story).

One of the other presenters though was these guys from Sikorsky:

http://www.niac.usra.edu/studies/516Keith.html [usra.edu]

Presenting their study "on the potential for the use of autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles for affordable package delivery.", which is to say A fleet of autonomous vehicles which would fly to your house and land in the driveway and drop off your latest purchases from Amazon.com, or pick up packages for delivery elsewhere.

Honestly the whole idea was clearly madness, but they were very serious and had put a lot of thought into it. Their final report (at the link above) is worthwhile browsing for anyone interested in the issues involved.

I don't think they had considered things like kids using the system to take joy-rides for example.

G.

Re:FedEx Drones to land in your driveway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32934870)

Back in 2001/2002 or somewhere thereabouts, I got to attend a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) meeting. This was the same meeting where I saw the most amazing presentation I've ever seen, Brad Edwards presenting his work on the Space Elevator. (It's also where I ended up with up Buzz Aldrin's name badge as a souvenir, but that's another story).

One of the other presenters though was these guys from Sikorsky:

http://www.niac.usra.edu/studies/516Keith.html [usra.edu]

Presenting their study "on the potential for the use of autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles for affordable package delivery.", which is to say A fleet of autonomous vehicles which would fly to your house and land in the driveway and drop off your latest purchases from Amazon.com, or pick up packages for delivery elsewhere.

Honestly the whole idea was clearly madness, but they were very serious and had put a lot of thought into it. Their final report (at the link above) is worthwhile browsing for anyone interested in the issues involved.

I don't think they had considered things like kids using the system to take joy-rides for example.

G.

I can't see that happening in the foreseeable future. As you note, the reliability of such a system is unmodelable and it's a critical parameter since your costs will blow up if you have to fetch the damn things all of the time. It looks like they're having to use optimistic parameters for the stuff they can model to get the thing to break even.

I don't know the relative costs of labor, fuel, et al. for package delivery, but I'm having trouble believing such a system can provide a significant economic advantage without breakthroughs which are over the horizon. Assuming a city is organized into blocks they should get strictly less than a 1/sqrt(2) improvement in distance traveled to service a network of delivery sites. So fuel cost per pound of cargo has to be reasonably close to ground transport in order to maintain fuel cost parity. The savings would have to be in labor and maintenance cost. I'm not sure this has much of an advantage in labor either, due to the reliability issues above, and also because I would expect loading UAVs to require more labor than loading trucks.

Definition of accident (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#32934608)

An FAA executive noted that an "accident" refers to a situation in which "the aircraft has done something unplanned or unexpected and violates an airspace regulation."

So, deviating from the flight plan is considered an accident?

If the drone operator changes the course in a way that is not inline with the plan, that's considered an accident?

Re:Definition of accident (2, Interesting)

ManicMechanic (238107) | about 4 years ago | (#32934768)

It can be, if the operator violates airspace or if the airplane reacts differently than what was planned.

Half Life 2 becoming reality (1)

richman555 (675100) | about 4 years ago | (#32936622)

Soon there will be smaller type drones, like those flying around in Half Life 2 that snap pictures and reveal your location.

It's almost like we've seen this story before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32936638)

"There is a push by a variety of proponents to give SKYNET more free rein in US airspace"

Fixed that for you....

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