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For the First Time Ever, the FAA Is Trying To Fine a Drone Hobbyist

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the be-careful-with-your-rc-helicopters dept.

Technology 297

Jason Koebler writes: "For the first time ever, the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to fine a hobby drone operator, a development that threatens to throw the whole hobby into disarray if the agency successfully levies the fine. While the FAA has explicitly said it doesn't want anyone flying drones commercially, it has never issued similar suggestions about hobby flight, which is why it has been just fine for some guy to fly a drone above a tornado, but illegal, in the FAA's eyes, for a journalist to do the same. That has changed, according to the agency. A spokesperson for the FAA told me that the agency 'has proposed a civil penalty against an individual in New York City. The operator, who is a hobbyist, flew a drone carelessly or recklessly and violated air traffic rules as well. He ran the drone into a couple of buildings and it crash-landed 20 feet from a person (video).'"

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Pretty big differencfe (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899179)

There is quite a lot of difference between fining someone for behaving in a way that puts other people in danger and fining someone for operating a drone.

The only problem I have with this is that FAA is involved.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899229)

I agree. If he violated any restricted airspace, bring in the FAA. A few dented buildings, a frightened bystander, and a broken drone? Call the cops and haul him away for reckless endangerment and destruction of property. Make him pay for being an idiot that way.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#46899557)

This. The FAA should be concerned with intrusion into air lanes and restricted airspace, not some ass crashing it onto a bicyclist. The BATF generally does not concern itself with people misusing guns in general as that is a local police issue.

In any case, are the Regulation-4-Everything Yes!!! types starting to see an issue with agencies adopting new memes to self-authorize control in new areas, outside normal political channels, which is to say, channels directly responsive to the voter?

Re:Pretty big differencfe (3, Insightful)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 months ago | (#46899917)

We already covered ALL this ground 2 months ago in http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

It's really quite simple: The FAA controls ALL US airspace, from the ground up.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (5, Informative)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46900087)

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru... [pbs.org]

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration’s only fine against a commercial drone user on the grounds that the small drone was no different than a model aircraft, a decision that appears to undermine the agency’s power to keep a burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the skies.

Patrick Geraghty, a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge, said in his order dismissing the $10,000 fine that the FAA has no regulations governing model aircraft flights or for classifying model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 months ago | (#46899849)

I agree. If he violated any restricted airspace, bring in the FAA. A few dented buildings, a frightened bystander, and a broken drone? Call the cops and haul him away for reckless endangerment and destruction of property. Make him pay for being an idiot that way.

Technically, the airspace IS restricted - by FAA rules. Typically you're not allowed to fly anything below 1000' AGL in a populated area. And a city is definitely a populated area.

There's a reason the light RC aircraft you see sold in stores are marketed as "Park Flyers" - you may not need to fly them at an RC park, but you should be flying them in a less populated park.

Granted, the FAA is unlikely to prosecute hobbyists that don't endanger lives or property (they could, mind you, but probably won't), but be an idiot and they can come down.

In fact, hobbyists often have unofficial governing bodies for that reason - while every one participating doesn't have to be "licensed" by the body, the body exists to help keep the sport in good reputation by creating processes, procedures and regulations to ensure they can coexist with others who may not share the same love of the sport. And yes, they may also try to restrict people's ability to fly "complex" RC vehicles until they've shown the skill to do so (again, it's all voluntary).

RC hobbyists aren't dumb, they know it only takes a couple of idiots to screw them over, which is why they subject themselves to voluntary regulation. It's also a lot easier to do advocacy when you can prove you're on the up and up, and disavow anyone who flouts the rules.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (4, Informative)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 months ago | (#46899877)

We've had this exact conversation already two months ago.
The FAA regulates ALL US airspace, and ALL flying machines.
It really is that simple.

Reposting my post from http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

Also from the FAA's own page (http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=76240) there's a few concrete and relevent statements that cannot be ignored:

-The FAA is responsible for the safety of U.S. airspace from the ground up.

-Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval.

-Flying model aircraft solely for hobby or recreational reasons doesn’t require FAA approval, but hobbyists must operate according to the agency's model aircraft guidance, which prohibits operations in populated areas

-You may not fly a UAS for commercial purposes by claiming that you’re operating according to the Model Aircraft guidelines (below 400 feet, 3 miles from an airport, away from populated areas.)

-The agency is still developing regulations, policies and standards that will cover a wide variety of UAS users, and expects to publish a proposed rule for small UAS – under about 55 pounds – later this year. That proposed rule will likely include provisions for commercial operations.

http://www.faa.gov/news/update... [faa.gov]

Re:Pretty big differencfe (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#46900355)

OK: so that means they're the ones who control http://www.poweruptoys.com/ [poweruptoys.com] paper airplanes, as well as gliders, parachutes, kites and flying squirrels.

But then, the FAA is responsible for tall buildings as well (buildings that penetrate US Airspace unduly) and other tall structures -- they mandate blinking lights and radio beacons so that pilots can avoid the obstacles.

Basically, they're in charge of ensuring that objects don't run into each other in an unsafe manner. This looks like a case of someone flying into something in an unsafe manner. Flying within a certain distance (height or horizon) of a heavily populated area is also their ballpark. Anything flying indoors is not.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 months ago | (#46900359)

No, you call the FAA.

FAA regulations require ALL aircraft, Radio controlled, ultralight or Commercial airliner to observe safety protocols.

By flying within 20 feet of people he's ALREADY breaking FAA regulations. Flying in NYC limits is almost certainly a violation as well as there just aren't that many places where you can be the required 500 feet away from a building other than central park.

The police have reason to be involved as well, but it most certainly is also an FAA matter.

The police don't police the sky, the FAA does. You don't call the cops when on water either in most cases, its a wildlife officer or coast guard issue depending on the body of water. Police DO get involved in both cases as typically what happens in the sky or on the water has implications on the ground near by as well.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (2)

jandrese (485) | about 2 months ago | (#46899527)

Who else would be involved? This is the FAA's jurisdiction. I agree that this is a non-story as well. If you're recklessly operating an aircraft and might be putting people in danger, then yes, that should be against the law and a fine is quite appropriate.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (0)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 months ago | (#46899831)

Who else would be involved? This is the FAA's jurisdiction.

Why not the NYPD? They could charge the operator with some form of 'reckless endagerment' for crashing the drone around people, and the owners of the buildings can sue him for any damages to their structures.

I fail to see why the FAA needs to get involved unless the operator was threatening manned flight.

Re:Pretty big differencfe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900145)

Last I checked, the Federal Aviation Administration had jurisdiction over all U.S airspace and flying vehicles. An unmanned aerial vehicle, such as the one in the story, is a flying vehicle.

Wrong Perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899197)

It seems to me that the fine is more directed about the person's flying skills since he nearly injured a person, than about the overall drone regulations for commercial usage.
Being allowed to use/do something, doesn't mean there are still laws to abide.

wow (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#46899201)

So we're surprised when a government agency uses common sense when enforcing a law now? This sounds exactly like what the FAA should be regulating...

Re:wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899255)

I feel sorry for you living in that ape-asshole country.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899265)

Capt. Douche Canoe should be fined for that - seriously.

Re:wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899487)

No, he shouldn't. You don't have to fucking make every stupid thing illegal.

Re:wow (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 months ago | (#46899835)

The question shouldn't be if there should be punishment. There should. The asshat could have injured people. The question should be whether or not the FAA should be involved in a matter that local law enforcement can deal with.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899285)

Arbitrary enforcement of a law is NOT a good thing.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899571)

it is. IFF the enforcement only punishes the extreme cases, but not the harmless ones. Not OK would be if the reason was something like "she has big boobs so I let her go".

Car example: one person drives 35 miles per hour in crowded conditions in front of a school at the end of the school day, the other drives 35 on a broad (inner city) street at night. Both are above the speed limit of 30mph. Would you fine them the same or let one get off with a warning?

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899599)

Which one was the hot blonde with big boobs?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900265)

The cop..

Re:wow (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 2 months ago | (#46900149)

Arbitrary enforcement of a law is NOT a good thing.

it is. IFF the enforcement only punishes the extreme cases, but not the harmless ones.

Then it's not really arbitrary is it? If you always pull someone over for 20 miles over the speed limit but
never pull someone over for 5 miles over the speed limit then the law probably needs to be changed to
reflect reality but the enforcement is not arbitrary.

Semi trucks actually have this codified. The weight limit is 40k. If you are over less than 5K then
you get a warning but no ticket. If you are over more than 5K then the fine you $1 per pound
STARTING at 40k not at 45k.

(note: numbers are somewhat arbitrary, not exactly sure what current limits and fines are but it gives the general idea)

Re:wow (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 months ago | (#46899575)

I agree, which is why I'm glad this doesn't appear to be arbitrary at the moment. The guy did something that should be prohibited.

Also, laws aren't made instantly and perfectly. The drone flying hobby is pretty new, there's going to be a period of finding a balance between too restrictive and too lax. It's likely going to be more restrictive than hobbyists would prefer, and it's going to be more lax than the regulators would prefer. Additionally, hobbyists need to realize that if someone dies, and someone else can blame it on not enough laws, there are going to suddenly be a lot more restrictions in place.

No! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899321)

I have a God-given, constitutional right to fly drones into permanent structures and crash them into crowds of people, and any attempts to restrict my ability to do this represent a tyrannical attack on my freedom.

Don't tread on me!

Re:No! (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | about 2 months ago | (#46899973)

You know.. we already have assholes who refuse to stop pointing lasers at airplanes and helicopters.. wait until these geniuses start trying to fly drones into the aircrafts' flight paths.

Re:No! (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 2 months ago | (#46900205)

I am sure you being funny, but exactly where do you suppose the Constitution gives the Federal government the authority to regulate airspace? In what twisted way will they imagine a drone operator, flying a home built drone, in the airspace of 1 state, involves interstate commerce?

This is the main risk of these people regulating drone space. Hobbyists are immensely politically active. Step on a few drone operators and they will ruin your day. Just look at HAM operators. Very, very, very powerful block of enthusiasts.

Re:No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900385)

Just add a gun and it becomes second amendment rights.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899493)

"Arbitrary enforcement of a law is NOT a good thing." True, but it's the only thing. This is a new and emerging menace as it becomes popular.

This guy was reckless by any measure so I hope they throw the book at him (reasonably) to set that precedent. Drone responsibly or it's just like anything else, pay the price.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899621)

I would rather see that they updated the law to handle the new situation.
This isn't something that FAA should be handling. I can easily see the same problem occurring with a remote controlled car or an over-sized nerf gun.
Apart from possible radio usage I don't see a need to regulate any of them specifically. We just need laws that makes it possible to fine people who use them in a way that endangers other people. As for property damage that isn't something that has to be prevented before that happens, compensation can be done afterwards.

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899515)

I support your comment, just not sure if you serious or being sarcastic. From what I have been reading it is okay to fly a hobbyist helicopter, or a plane but not okay to fly a drone? I'm not trying to start any arguments or disagree since this hobbyist nearly injured, perhaps could have killed someone/people.

I should STFU, before they outright ban old hobbyist from flying are primitive helicopters/planes as well. Yes I am aware there is a difference between a drone, and old hobbyist aircraft, for one you need any skill to fly, and the weight of a drone. But there have been numerous injuries even deaths from hobbyist aircraft and the FAA let it go.

I use to use hobbyist aircraft for surveillance by the way....

OK... so the devil is in the details (4, Informative)

Peter L. Berghold (3639725) | about 2 months ago | (#46899209)

Drones are not the only way to get in trouble with the FAA. If you are into LDRS (Large Dangerous Rocket Ships) there is a maximum altitude your rocket can go and if you expect it to exceed that altitude you need to clear it with air traffic control before launch. It only makes sense given the obvious potential for havoc. The person cited in this article did commit some questionable acts. Crashing into buildings and crash landing the drone were people were milling about and going about their day is not cool. It only takes one "oops" where property damage or personal bodily injury occurs and the hobby will end up being heavily regulated.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (1, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#46899357)

LDRS craft, by definition, are the responsibility of the FAA - they fly into controlled airspace. This thing did not.

Put the drone in front of an runway - FAA has jurisdiction.'
Put the drone in front of a balcony - not so much.

Unless this is an end run to see just exactly what they can get away with.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 months ago | (#46899409)

I think the FAA has jurisdiction over anything that flies.

They just say, "Keep within these limits and we won't care what you do." So the question is whether this guy's recklessnes exceeded those limits.

Kind of similar to how the FCC has jurisdiction over the ISM bands - they just say "stay below this power level and and a few other limits and you can do anything you want in that band"

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (2, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | about 2 months ago | (#46899595)

I think the FAA has jurisdiction over anything that flies.

I think that we need Congress to step in and limit the FAAs jurisdiction to above 500 feet and above a certain size. Giving the FAA jurisdiction over frisbees, bows and arrows or toys with propellers is an absurd use of Federal government regulations and a complete waste of resources for them to be trolling You Tube for videos for accidents with toys that didn't actually cause any serious harm.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (4, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#46899815)

So you would let them fly above a busy runway as long as they are at 499 feet or below? I didn't think so. Would you have a weight limit? What if it's only 4 feet long but weighs 50 kg? I thought so. How about flying above a military base or a nuclear power plant to gather intelligence?

I have an idea. Let's leave the FAA alone. They are doing exactly what they were created to do, and they are doing a good job.

499 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900001)

"as long as they are at 499 feet"

below 500' is (or at least should be) considered private property, in this case you'd be trespassing on airport property which usually results in a quick response from armed, uniformed & angry individuals in cars with flashing lights. Also airports usually get easements over adjoining property effectively buying the airspace above those properties, so flying anywhere near an airport would be trespassing on the airport. A few people arrested, charged with trespassing and their drone/RC craft confiscated by regular everyday police would get the message through far more clearly than the FAA fining someone. Giving the FAA cart blanch authority over anything that flies is idiotic. Next they'll be wanting to regulate those little $20 electric helicopters that you fly in your house, if they manage that next will be paper airplanes.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 months ago | (#46899943)

we dont need congress to do anything.
the FAA is neither in the wrong, nor overereaching.
you're an idiot.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 months ago | (#46899503)

To add to Andy Dodd, the FAA has jurisdiction over anything that can potentially fly outdoors. Fly a drone in your garage with the door closed: fine. Fly a drone in your garage with the door open: FAA technically has jurisdiction. According to some FAA guys I know, they tell me they technically have jurisdiction over paper airplanes, but you'll never see them enforcing any kind of regulations on them.

Below 500'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899725)

My understanding of the FAA's jurisdiction was that it began at ~500'. I was looking at some home built aircraft stuff a while back and most of it seemed to suggest that as long as you stayed below that point and remained above property where you had the homeowners permission they did not technically have jurisdiction over you. While I'm sure they CLAIM the ability to regulate anything that can even potentially fly I wonder if the actual law is written that way.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 months ago | (#46900193)

According to some FAA guys I know, they tell me they technically have jurisdiction over paper airplanes, but you'll never see them enforcing any kind of regulations on them.

It would be nothing less than hilarious to see them try.

Re:OK... so the devil is in the details (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about 2 months ago | (#46900123)

I don't know much about this subject, but why does the FAA need dominion over all thing above the ground? If I am flying a device under a certain altitude (250 ft?) under a certain mass, at less than a certain speed, more than a certain distance from an airport, why does the FAA care? Are they worried that there will be too many drones in the air? Seems a bit far fetched for the near future, and you can begin to regulate when there is a problem. Are they worried that my toy drone will fail, and fall on a house? I would be just as liable if I threw a rock at the same house, and as long as the drone is not too massive, the potential for serious harm is not all that great.

Politics is a bigger problem (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 2 months ago | (#46899239)

Right now, we're running into a road block with using UAVs for search & rescue with our local Sheriff. Given that his position is an elected one, he doesn't want to run the risk of alienating the electorate.

NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 months ago | (#46899243)

"why it has been just fine for some guy to fly a drone above a tornado, but illegal, in the FAA's eyes, for a journalist to do the same. "

It is illegal for anyone without special permission to fly a drone over(sic) a tornado without a lot of special clearance. The "top" of a tornado will be well above the altitude limits on RC aircraft. It would also be in the realm of dangerous.
Flying over a disaster area is a different matter to take pictures is a different issue.

" A spokesperson for the FAA told me that the agency 'has proposed a civil penalty against an individual in New York City. The operator, who is a hobbyist, flew a drone carelessly or recklessly and violated air traffic rules as well. He ran the drone into a couple of buildings and it crash-landed 20 feet from a person (video).'""
  And this is a good thing IMHO.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899363)

Land of the Free. Lol.
Just out of curiosity, where would you draw the line regarding what the FEDERAL government can and cannot ban? Is the goal for no one to stand out, everyone go to work 9 to 5, watch TV, pay our taxes, and die after reaching retirement age, or is there some room left for people to do weird stuff?

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 2 months ago | (#46899561)

There is totally room to do weird stuff...

Right up until you endanger someone else (like me!)

Now, I don't like tons of regulations either, but I also don't want people crashing drones into me.

So yea, if someone is an idiot and crashes a drone in a city, that should be a crime.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#46899609)

Land of the Free. Lol.
Just out of curiosity, where would you draw the line regarding what the FEDERAL government can and cannot ban? Is the goal for no one to stand out, everyone go to work 9 to 5, watch TV, pay our taxes, and die after reaching retirement age, or is there some room left for people to do weird stuff?

You're free to do lots of "weird stuff," provided you're not damaging other people or threatening their well-being.

This guy failed to meet those two criteria, and thus is being punished appropriately. It's one of those "right to swing your fist" kinda things.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 months ago | (#46899783)

The simple answer is that which needlessly endangers people and property.
Flying a drone in controlled airspace around an airport is a great example. Hitting a 5 Kg drone at 200 knots or sucking it into a turbofan could cause someone their life or an airline hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Flying a drone over crowds of people where it could hurt somebody is another good example. Ever been to an airshow? You will notice that the performers in the US do not overfly the crowd during maneuvers.
These rules are no different in nature than you can not drive 70 mph in a school zone or 150mph on the interstate.
Using it for pictures of a disaster area is another issue. Instead of flat out ban the FAA might want to consider a commercial RC license. Idealy they would take note for way Ham radio works and allow the AMA to do the testing.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 2 months ago | (#46899813)

> Land of the Free. Lol.

You're not free to damage other people's property or to cause injury to someone. Such restrictions are preservation of others' freedom to enjoy their property and life.

Your natural rights end where another's natural rights begin. My right to move my fist ends with your right to not have a broken nose, and vice versa. If you don't get that. I'm afraid there is no hope for you.

Unfortunately libertarians catch a bad rap because there are idiots who call themselves libertarians but are really anarchists because they want the right to crap up the environment, hurt others and damage others' property and make the idiotic claim that not being allowed to do so is an infringement of their rights. Libertarianism will never gain traction exactly because of those idiotic nihilistic anarchists.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 months ago | (#46899857)

That is my view on most libertarians. It maybe that it is the idiotic nihilistic anarchists that I notice.
I believe that we need enough laws but not too many. Probably most people feel the same way. The key is workout the solution without getting nasty.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (2)

kimvette (919543) | about 2 months ago | (#46899977)

I've had some of these nihilists tell me I'm not a libertarian because I think banking tightly regulated (remember in the fractional banking systems, banks actually create money) and also companies' impact on the environment and public utilities should also be tightly regulated because everyone depends on them, and anything they do affects everyone in that society. The reason they should is so that the rights of the people at large are preserved. Society needs rules, even (or perhaps especially) in a libertarian "utopia." People read too much Ayn Rand and don't think critically, and worship her as some sort of god and take her work as gospel when really she was a writer of fiction.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900383)

Libertarianism won't gain traction because it's only attractive to very young people who think they're smart, and arrested development cases. The rest of us like civilization just fine, and are happy to help out our less fortunate fellow citizens.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 months ago | (#46899817)

Ever see the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" episode "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass" ? The problem is when you give people absolute freedom to do whatever they want, society devolves and you blow right past "weird" and end up at "lunacy" very quickly.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#46899607)

It's a good thing reckless behavior can be punished, to say nothing of damaging someone else's property.

But the FAA?!?!?. This is the realm of local laws and government, responsive to politicians and actual voyers, not unelected bureaucrats thousands of miles away passing law by decree.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#46899619)

Responsive to voters I mean. Drone use responsive to voyers is still in its infancy.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 months ago | (#46899805)

If it flies it is the FAA. Do you really want every city and county in the US to make a patchwork of laws? Plus you have the violation of controlled airspace which is pure FAA.

Re:NO NO NO!!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899865)

Dangerous? That sounds like a misapplication of rules for manned aircraft with operators to endanger to unmanned ones without one. Since a drone getting wrecked endangers no one except perhaps their wallet. Correct me if I'm wrong - even if a drone wound up grabbed by a tornado and thrown into something would it even do any damage distinguishable from that of the tornado through the path anyway?

Obvious (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#46899269)

The operator, who is a hobbyist, flew a drone carelessly or recklessly and violated air traffic rules as well. He ran the drone into a couple of buildings and it crash-landed 20 feet from a person.

If I engaged in reckless behavior that posed serious threat to others or to their property then I too would expect to be fined if caught.

The FAA probably figured that the press and the paparazzi would be all over the use of drones if they were allowed to, and the ban was to prevent a bunch of people that had no interest in the technology itself from attempting to poorly use it. Hobbyists, on the other hand, are by definition interested in the technology, and are more likely to learn how to master its use. This particular hobbyist obviously wasn't in control, hence the fine, but he was also dumb and used the device where he shouldn't have been, ie, a congested urban environment with bystanders.

Play with this stuff where there's room and a lack of people to hurt and one should be ok.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899537)

exactly, and people whining about this is are the same people that complain (right so) about zero tolerance policies. This is exactly how you get zero tolerance policies.

Re:Obvious (0)

bigpat (158134) | about 2 months ago | (#46899823)

I just watched the video. Depending on the size of this toy helicopter I don't see much of anything reckless about this. He stayed well below the tops of the surrounding buildings. The toy probably had some sort of protective plastic ring around the rotors so even bumping into a building because of some wind gust probably wouldn't have even scratched the windows. And landing 20 feet away from someone is not even close. I wouldn't have done it because of the risk of overreaction with all those people around and the thing is noisy, but the reality is that this was no more risky, dangerous or reckless than riding a bicycle down the street or playing with marbles on the sidewalk.

Flying Objects and Buildings... (2)

JJJJust (908929) | about 2 months ago | (#46899297)

We're supposed to be okay with crashing flying objects to buildings? Did Al-Qaeda have it right all along? Should we give them medals instead of killing them? Is Bin Laden due a wrongful death payment?

These are legitimate concerns when you start complaining about a fine for a moron who caused his drone to fly into a stationary object.

Seriously, this. (0, Flamebait)

aussersterne (212916) | about 2 months ago | (#46899629)

The "freedom brigade" these days has gone around the bend. What, I can't fly unmanned payloads into a building? I can't drop heavy solid objects from the air over pedestrians? BIG BROTHER! BIG BROTHER!

What's next? "You mean I can't bludgeon you to death with my garden shovel? This is all Obama's fault, the damned communist!"

Re:Seriously, this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899853)

Their point is that this isn't a job for the feds. If the individual has caused damage, and has put pedestrians in harms way then the local police would get a call and they would handle it. The FAA has no business regulating "toys and paper airplanes"(as one individual commented above). Let your local police and Sherriff deal with the issue if it is that important. This is a power better left to the states.

What the hell was that guy thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899339)

I watched the video. Anybody defending that kind of behavior is delusional. This kind of recklessness can not go unpunished. Apparently he had trouble getting the drone "safely" into the air from his balcony: Even if the flight had been uneventful, how did he expect to land it again, considering the wind at those altitudes? FFS man, use the thing between your ears!

We need more governent controls! (1, Flamebait)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 2 months ago | (#46899383)

We just can't have things flying in populated areas without hte proper goverment controls. Pigeons and starlings are next!

Let me get this straight (2)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 2 months ago | (#46899395)

Guy recklessly operates remote control machinery in populated area, causes property damage and comes close to causing injury or death in innocent bystanders, and this dipshit reporter pretends the FCC is the devil for coming down on him?

Re:Let me get this straight (1)

marciot (598356) | about 2 months ago | (#46899459)

I think the point is that the buildings had carelessly invaded his airspace and the pedestrians had trespassed his landing field. Obviously, these are the ones who should be punished.

Re:Let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899547)

FAA

Re:Let me get this straight (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899691)

The reason that the FCC came down on him is because in addition to the dangerous behavior that you describe, his drone was also broadcasting the word "cocksucker" over public airwaves.

This is NOT a fine for "Flying a Drone" (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 months ago | (#46899405)

This is a fine for willfully putting someone in danger and destroying property. The pilot should be thanking his lucky stars that the FAA gets to process this in administrative law court rather than the State process it through criminal court.

Before all of the libertarian outrage starts . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899423)

Yes, people should get 'fined' (ticketed) for doing stupid and dangerous things with technology.

BTW, it should be illegal for someone to fly a drone camera around the second story windows of your house and/or put a camcorder on a 20 foot boom to peek in.

AND, if it wasn't trolling enough, the title says "trying" vs "proposing".

Re:Before all of the libertarian outrage starts . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899497)

That is already illegal. If you can see into a window with your eyes, you're usually OK in looking so long as you're allowed to be there, but you're typically not allowed to have assistance. So, looking with your eyse is OK, but not with a camera, binoculars or similar. Logically a drone would all under that rule. I'm not sure what it's like in other states, but I'd assume that's fairly common.

Classes and Permits (2)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 2 months ago | (#46899427)

Drones in the private sector are getting to the point where the only way to really resolve some of this dangerous behavior is to require operators of the drones that go over a set height take classes and get some sort of certification. I don't know aviation enough to know what height that would be.

It can be a fun hobby, but if they aren't flown responsibly and safely, eventually a mid-air collision with a helicopter is going to cause a fatality. At least with proper training it would lessen the chances of that.

Good (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 2 months ago | (#46899441)

Some douchebag sending a flying lawnmower into the air over downtown Manhattan should be charged with reckless endangerment, at the very least. How long before somebody gets killed by one of these assholes?

"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (1)

shortscruffydave (638529) | about 2 months ago | (#46899445)

Everyone seems to be getting all gussied up about drones, but (excuse my ignorance here) what's the difference between drones and remote control aircraft? People seem to have been playing happily with the latter for years, but when they get called "drones", they're seen as evil?

Re: "Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899489)

Good point

Re:"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#46899499)

From my limited understanding, isn't in something to do with the line-of-sight requirement and/or capability of autonomy?

Either is capable of falling out of the sky and killing you, of course, so I'm not sure how much the distinction really matters.

Re:"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 2 months ago | (#46899775)

An RC Aircraft requires line-of-sight control; if you can't see it you can't control it.

A drone has some level of autonomous control. For example, I can instruct a drone to fly to waypoints. Drones can also return home by themselves.

"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899891)

The difference would seem to be where they are flown. "Drones" are flown above other peoples property at low altitude without permission in the belief that it is (like) public property. RC Aircraft in my experience are always flown over property that you have specific permission to fly, or in public parks and well below 500' Call me silly but I subscribe to the belief that the public airspace doesn't start until at least a few hundred feet up (500' is the number I've always heard), and then it becomes FAA jurisdiction. If you want to fly below that airspace and outside of the FAA's jurisdiction fine, get specific permission from the property owner. If you want to fly around without permission from property owners fine, fly above ~500', get clearance from the FAA and follow their restrictions.

Re:"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (2)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#46899919)

Anyone flying an RC aircraft has to follow precisely the same regulations. You can't violate airspace rules or operate recklessly. It's just that typically RC aircraft hobbyists have much more care and intelligence than random flaming assholes.

Re:"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (2)

JStyle (833234) | about 2 months ago | (#46900045)

Definition:
a. an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond line of sight: the GPS of a U.S. spy drone.
b. (loosely) any unmanned aircraft or ship that is guided remotely: a radio-controlled drone.

I'm an RC hobbyist myself. I don't do anything with multirotors, but I know many that do. Most of them have a control board that includes a "return to home" feature, so if they lose sight of the model (wind, equipment failure, etc), or even just lose visual orientation of the model, they can flip a switch and the multirotor will automatically rise to a pre-defined altitude, and return to the launch site, with no intervention. These systems are available for ~$100 and can fit on any size model. It can also be used for planes. I consider the use of these tools to be a safety feature and am very glad people use them. Also very helpful for FPV (first person view) flying, which can go well beyond line of sight.

Regardless, it's pedantic to distinguish between the RC aircraft and drones. What is important is regulating the capability and who gets to use them. Obviously weaponizing is a big no-no, and being used by the government for spy or surveillance operations must have some additional oversight (say, a court issued warrant).

Re:"Drones" vs "RC aircraft" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900377)

"Gussied up" does not mean what you think it means. If you don't understand a phrase, don't use it.

Pilot Error (0)

mholve (1101) | about 2 months ago | (#46899457)

That guy shouldn't be allowed to pilot a balloon, much less a drone.

Re:Pilot Error (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#46899563)

Agreed. But I can't help being impressed by how quickly the drone stabilised - let alone stayed airborne - after the first collision.

Above a tornado? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#46899519)

it has been just fine for some guy to fly a drone above a tornado

I suspect that might be out of most drones' capabilities. The article has that link linked to another article, but it's about drones flying over a train crash. That article has a link to what appears to be the relevant story, which is about someone flying a drone over the aftermath of a tornado.

Are you a company or rich? (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 months ago | (#46899541)

If not, we will sue you. And by company, we mean a big company, not some mom and pop store.

flying drones is a hobby? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899559)

I have heard of people flying model airplanes as a hobby but large and heavy drones? I saw one at an air show once. The drone is like fifteen feet long and fifteen feet wide. It must have weight about 75 pounds or so. I think the model airplanes are cheaper and easier to operate.

Sue Jason Koebler, TFA submitter, for idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899601)

"a development that threatens to throw the whole hobby into disarray if the agency successfully levies the fine"

What kind of bullshit is this? The man is not being sued for his hobby. He is being sued for engaging in activities that threaten to injure innocent bystanders and damage property.

(How ironic that the captcha for this post is "healthy" when I am nursing a bad cold and half of my lungs are hanging out of my mouth from so much coughing)

Re:Sue Jason Koebler, TFA submitter, for idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899633)

Replying to my own post: Where it says "sued" above, please read "fined," blame it on my current condition. Cue in the lawyer nazis and the grammar nazis.

Re:Sue Jason Koebler, TFA submitter, for idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899661)

If the description for this thread was not so inflammatory, there would be nothing else to discuss.

Practice safe flying people... (4, Interesting)

freak0fnature (1838248) | about 2 months ago | (#46899639)

I've heard pilots complain (@ LiveATC.net feeds) on approach at JFK of drones entering their visual range while landing on at least 2 occasions. That stuff rarely makes the news, and I don't listen to that stuff often, mainly for work purposes.

Re:Practice safe flying people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900147)

Wow, seriously? If they were talking to ATC, that sounds like a drone was flying into class D (or C or B) airspace without clearance... that's a big no-no regardless of what type of flying object it is.

I'm fine with this (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#46899727)

Its not a hobby vs comercial issue. Although legally, all private drones are by definition hobby (in this country). Its an issue of unsafe operation and the loss of control of the aircraft. Fine his ass.

It appears that the FAA might be taking a "no harm, no foul" approach to some drone operations. The person who filmed the tornado destruction technically might be in violation of the no commercial use regulation. But not having caused any trouble or run into anything or anyone, they don't appear to be doing much about that incident. Had that drone goen in the way of other aircraft (rescue ops, for example), they could have added that charge to the list. This seems like a reasonable approach as well.

Sorry, I couldn't resist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46899787)

FAA: All your drones are belong to us

It sounds like the local police have already got the problem in hand with a 'reckless endangerment' charge, so I'm not sure why the FAA needs to get involved. Their time would be better spent writing some decent guidelines for what is (and is not) permissible for semi-autonomous drones. Possibly followed by a developing a training standard for commercial applications of drone technology.

There needs to be clear jurisdictional bounds (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 months ago | (#46899949)

Hobbyist or not, manned or not, there needs to be some clear jurisdictional bounds so that anything flying high enough to be in "airplane space" or anything close to the ground near an airport, blimp base, registered helipad, or other fixed-location registered aircraft take-off or landing-site is under either federal FAA rules or similar state rules.

Anything else should either be unregulated, regulated by the states if they so choose, or if it is over a place where the feds already have jurisdiction such as a navigable waterway, non-FAA federal jurisdiction.

Operators of aircraft such as crop-dusters, stunt planes, etc. flying close to the ground away from designated take-off and landing-areas will be "on notice" that they are sharing the airspace with devices not operating under FAA rules.

Operators unmanned aircraft operating without FAA approval will be "on notice" that they need to steer clear of regulated take-off and landing-zones and stay below "FAA regulated airspace" or they will be subject to fines or other sanctions from the FAA.

Re:There needs to be clear jurisdictional bounds (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 months ago | (#46900105)

There are many places where "airplane" space goes all the way to the ground. One inch off the ground puts you in FAA controlled airspace in these areas.

Class B, C, and D airports all have controlled airspace to the surface within a few miles of the runway center, and some Class E (non-towered fields) also have Class E airspace "to the surface."

I don't know where this occurred, but it's entirely possible that he was flying in controlled airspace.

RC Helicopters/Planes vs. Drones? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 2 months ago | (#46899999)

I was an avid RC Helicopter hobbyist as a high school kid and I'm wondering what's the difference between a drone and a remote controlled helicopter/plane?

Is the drone 100% autonomous vs. the RC line of sight? Though you could fly an RC with a nose mounted camera..

Does the FAA define what a drone is?

Re:RC Helicopters/Planes vs. Drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46900135)

The FAA regulates all remote control aircraft. They don't use the word Drone in the regulation.

Oh sure. Let's make drones illegal... (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 months ago | (#46900039)

Because that worked out *so* well with drugs.

Oh, and by "drone" do we mean, "radio controlled model planes" or "radio controlled helicopters" currently sold in hobby and toy stores since the 1960s or so? How about model rockets? While we're at it, let's ban frisbees. Those frisbee golf people are really annoying. And then there are paper airplanes. Clearly a menace. Or how about gliders and small prop aircraft. I mean, *they're* clearly a menace too, eh?

FAA and drones (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46900095)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration’s only fine against a commercial drone user on the grounds that the small drone was no different than a model aircraft, a decision that appears to undermine the agency’s power to keep a burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the skies.

Patrick Geraghty, a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge, said in his order dismissing the $10,000 fine that the FAA has no regulations governing model aircraft flights or for classifying model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru... [pbs.org]

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