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Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the compelling-reasons-to-get-lost-in-the-woods dept.

Government 77

An anonymous reader writes: Back in February, officials at the Federal Aviation Administration told a Texas search-and-rescue team they couldn't use drones help locate missing persons. The team, which is called EquuSearch, challenged the FAA in court. On Friday, the court ruled (PDF) in favor of EquuSearch, saying the FAA's directive was "not a formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency's final conclusion." EquuSearch intends to resume using the drones immediately. This puts the FAA in the position of having to either initiate formal proceedings against EquuSearch, which is clearly operating to the benefit of society (as opposed to purely commercial drone use), or to revisit and finalize its rules for small aircraft entirely. The latter would be a lengthy process because "Congress has delegated rule making powers to its agencies, but the Administrative Procedures Act requires the agencies to provide a public notice and comment period first."

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comments are now underway on just this issue (4, Informative)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 3 months ago | (#47491121)

You can visit the FAA comment site to comment on proposed rule changes that address this issue. The comment period ends on July 25. The proposed rules will cripple drone use by civilians and also cripple most RC aircraft operations in the USA. The proposal is simply draconian. Check it out:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!d... [regulations.gov]

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47491421)

It would also be a big help to send a copy of your comments to your congressional representative. This is especially true if your representative serves on the Aviation Committee that oversees the FAA. These are the members:

Republicans
Frank A. LoBiondo, New Jersey, Chairman
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin
Howard Coble, North Carolina
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee
Sam Graves, Missouri
Blake Farenthold, Texas
Larry Bucshon, Indiana
Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania
Richard L. Hanna, New York
Daniel Webster, Florida
Jeff Denham, California
Reid J. Ribble, Wisconsin
Thomas Massie, Kentucky
Steve Daines, Montana
Roger Williams, Texas
Mark Meadows, North Carolina
Rodney Davis, Illinois, Vice Chair
Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania, (ex officio)

Democrats
Rick Larsen, Washington, Ranking Member
Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas
Michael E. Capuano, Massachusetts
Daniel Lipinski, Illinois
Steve Cohen, Tennessee
André Carson, Indiana
Richard M. Nolan, Minnesota
Dina Titus, Nevada
Sean Patrick Maloney, New York
Cheri Bustos, Illinois
Corrine Brown, Florida
Elizabeth H. Esty, Connecticut
Nick J. Rahall, II, West Virginia, (ex officio)

It will be much easier to stop these regulations, than it will be to repeal them later. The skies should belong to the people, not the government. The time to act is now.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47491601)

"The skies should belong to the people, not the government"
Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, lets just shoot all kind of shit into the air. Lets ignore the regulation are there for a reason. It's only a spinning blade cappale of killing people, lets not regulation. Hell, lets buzz airliners as the land, cause it's are skies not the governments.

Any of you shit land on my yard, I hope you don't plan on getting it back. If any of your shit endangers anyone I know, I hope you ready to loose every thing

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491703)

I have often wondered if you're just a derelict alcoholic posting on Slashdot, or if you are abusing other drugs. Since you're a Portland liberal, weed is an obvious possibility.

Care to let us know what you're on right now? Regardless, I certainly hope you aren't operating any heavy machinery.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47492575)

You're not the first person to wonder this. Sometimes his posts are coherent, other times, they're all over the place. Some serious over/under medicating, perhaps?

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47497407)

I suppose I, too, would be concerned if someone walked over to my yard and shit some land on it. There has to be a law against shitting land on other people's land. Then again, it's probably a medical disorder that deserves sympathy.

Can you imagine the plumbing problems cause by shitting land into a toilet?

Don't operate any heavy machinery ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47493815)

Especially a Xerox 7775 copier, printer, fax, email and scan-to-network multifunction.

Re: comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491767)

Do you let your children see you when you're this inebriated? Do you ever stop to consider what kind of example you're setting by getting this wasted?

Presuming you're home, you're obviously fucking drooling by 7 PM local time. Nice work. I don't care what you do with your life, but I feel sorry for your kids who probably consider you a role model without knowing any better.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47493559)

The best regulations tread lightly and try to avoid regulating things that aren't actually a problem. I am all for good regulations made with appropriate restraint. I oppose regulation that would also encompass things that have been unregulated for years and caused no significant problems.

Whatever new regulation the FAA comes up with needs to exclude the entirety of hobby RC aircraft (which have been safely enjoyed for decades). Most of the devices in question are small and light weight. Even a complete failure wouldn't be likely to seriously injure someone if it fell on them.

You write as if the parks and neighborhoods are littered with chopped off body parts, pools of blood and corpses from RC aircraft accidents.

Quick, without googling, name an RC aircraft related bystander fatality! Now, name more of them than there have been bizarre office supply related accidental deaths.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 2 months ago | (#47496229)

I take it you specified bystander so as to avoid mention of Roman Pirozek taking off the top of his head (yes, he died) with an RC helicopter. Hobby RC aircraft are already regulated: where and when they can't fly, etc. The new FAA regulations don't need to exclude hobby RC aircraft, just deal with them at the minimum level needed to protect people's safety, privacy, and property.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 months ago | (#47496607)

I was aware of that incident, but he voluntarily accepted the risk. I am more concerned about people who have a risk thrust upon them.

Currently, hobby RC craft are under a recommendation from the FAA but according to the courts, that lacks the force of law.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47497825)

Uhm, the plane you're talking about buzzing is someone else's property. You wouldn't go into a public park or sidewalk and just randomly punch someone, right? Oh heck, some actually do. We call them felons.

Re: comments are now underway on just this issue (2, Informative)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 3 months ago | (#47491879)

"The skies should belong to the people, not the government. "

You mean the government for and by the people? The ones we elected to make up that list? Your exercise of writing those letters shows regulations should be at the behest of the people and this isn't us vs them.

So please drop this "people or government" dichotomy. This sets us all back. It's ignorance, it goes against your point and tells people the government isn't ours to control. It's how we get regulations we don't like. Instead keep the first half of your sentiment and we can have both, regulations by and for the protection of people.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47492949)

The skies should belong to the people, not the government.

A proper government represents the people.

The whole point in regulation is to enable a resource to be shared safely and effectively - like the FCC allocates frequencies so, for example, the first responder doesn't shit all over my amateur radio allocation, and vice versa. If regulation is excessive, hardly anyone enjoys a resource. If regulation is lacking, hardly anyone enjoys a resource. Part of maturity - perhaps the main indicator of maturity - is the recognition that effective living is about achieving a balance, not coming out with stupid ideological absolutes and false dichotomies.

bonus points if you do your research and use gramm (3, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47491535)

I've gotten involved in a couple of rounds of agency rule-making before and it taught me a few things. I learned that this is where the skills learned writing papers in school can really be useful. The folks at the FAA think they know something about this topic, so they tend to discount comments that sound like the person is spouting off emotionally without having any real knowledge of the subject matter. On the other hand, they don't know everything that everyone is doing in the field, so they'd like to hear comments from people doing different things. For example, my local university has a drone research center and the FAA doesn't know what all the research center is doing, so they can appreciate comments about using drones in a research and educational setting.

IF you really care about this topic, it may be worth putting some time into writing your comments well, or supporting an organization who will, such as the model aircraft association.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47491587)

No they will not.
Sheesh.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506471)

Sheesh yourself dude. Or should I say dudette. Base your thinking on religion much? Try science for a change.

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (0)

oursland (1898514) | about 3 months ago | (#47491629)

Oh noes! I'll have to fly my RC aircraft within view!

Re:comments are now underway on just this issue (1)

Lancer (32120) | about 3 months ago | (#47507423)

"Simply draconian". Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but from what I read the intent seems to be to ensure that hobby aircraft are being flown the way they've been flown for years. I've flown R/C and been a member of the AMA, so I have some experience here though I'm hardly an expert.

I think the "problem" now is that, thanks to amazing technologies, it's so much easier to fly R/C aircraft than it has ever been. Because of these technologies anyone can learn to fly on their own, and that ends up bypassing the flying clubs and other groups that had, as an effect of their existence, a way to ingrain the principles that allow us to "operate in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization". When Joe Schmoe orders a quad-copter kit off the internet and doesn't have to scale the learning curve, both actual flying and pilot safety, he ends up, on average, more dangerous than those that had the benefit of those groups.

When those groups no longer become the dominant form of 'policing' of the use of these aircraft, it's no great surprise that regulators feel the need to step in to do the job, which doesn't fill me with great confidence.

A better solution, and it may be too late already, would be to get the developers of these aircraft to work with the AMA to get these new pilots involved with the existing R/C community rather than seeing them as something different.

ugh (3, Insightful)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 3 months ago | (#47491125)

"Congress has delegated rule making powers to its agencies"

This is what makes those agencies so intimidating. They have given up control.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47492069)

Unlike corporations that can change rules at a whim government agencies are required to have bureaucratic procedures which make rule making more open. Furthermore the courts can protect both individuals and businesses from arbitrary rules which is apparently the case here. My own view is that businesses are far from being intimidated by government, they are much more likely to pervert regulations for their own benefit than the converse. This is a long winded way of saying money talks whether to Congress or directly to federal agencies.

Re:ugh (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 months ago | (#47492619)

Whatever you may think bad about the FAA.......if congress had to make all the aviation rules themselves, it would be ten times worse.

both? (1, Insightful)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 months ago | (#47491141)

Can we have the FAA institute formal proceedings against Equusearch so they can get bitchslapped by whatever court they try it in AND have to go through the rulemaking again as well? Please?

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491171)

What do you have against Equusearch?

Re:both? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491277)

EquuSearch should be ashamed. The only legitimate uses of drones are:
  * Identification of insurgents/enemy combatants
  * Neutralization of above
  * Pizza Delivery

Shame!

Re:both? (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47491279)

No, stop being such an ignorant douche.

The FAA had made the current policies to prevent idiots who think they know everything (i.e. people like you) who have more money than brains from getting a UAV and hurting people by dropping it on someones head, though their roof or flying it into another aircraft.

All this court has said is that 'your policy isn't a regulation, YET'. Did you notice the YET part.

The FAA is empowered by Congress via congressional order to regulate these activities. Its what they do. The only reason EquuSearch has 'won' here is because the FAA ISN'T RUSHING INTO MAKING A STUPID BUNCH OF REGULATIONS THAT WE'RE ALL STUCK WITH BECAUSE OF SOME ASSHOLE LIKE YOU. The FAA can fairly easily turn their current policies into law and there isn't shit you can do about it, its just a matter of time. Is that what you want?

If you 'search the net' for events relating to drones ... take away the EquuSearch related results, you'll find that pretty much EVERY ONE OF THEM is some fucking moron doing something that either DID hurt someone, was dangers as shit, came very close to hurting someone, or certainly had the potential to hurt someone. That is EXACTLY what the FAA is supposed to prevent.

As someone who flies UAVs for fun and profit (yes, I fly them illegally) I am in 100% agreement with the FAA at this point. I've been flying RC for almost 30 years and universally, the people who scream the loudest about the FAA regulation and policies are the idiots who get people hurt.

What you don't want is the FAA getting pissed off at idiots like you and fast tracking a regulation that makes any autonomous or camera equipped aircraft of any size or use to require a Certificate of Airworthiness, which is the EASIEST thing for them to do. Then EquuSearch is done, and so am I, and so are a bunch of hobbyists ... because some asshole like you with no idea whats going on thinks the Gubment needs to get out of the way and instead gets the exact opposite of what you want. EquuSearch is an EXTREMELY rare exception to the rule.

Screaming idiots like you aren't helping the cause. The FAA won't get 'bitchslapped', making these rules is their job, by law. The only court cases the FAA has 'lost' are ones that essentially say 'your policies are not regulations, go make them regulations'.

The FAA making their current policies regulations is EXACTLY WHAT YOU DON'T WANT.

So I restate my first sentence. Stop being such an ignorant douche.

Re:both? (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47491289)

And just for the record, being legal with the FAA is a well understood and often used process, its expensive and time consuming, but every aircraft in US skies has done it already. Its not impossible to be legal, its just expensive. Again, safety is more important than your ignorance.

Re:both? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 3 months ago | (#47493987)

You're confusing compliance with safety.

Many FAA regulations could be argued as making the sky less safe.

Making $1000 worth of avionics cost $50k means that small airplanes don't use them, which means that pilots have less situational awareness. Why don't small planes have CatIII-capable ILS? We're talking about 1980s technology in many cases, and it is only expensive because of regulation. (And yes, I know there is more to Cat III than the hardware.)

There is no reason to restrict the operation of light drones below 1000 feet and away from major airports. They're about as capable of causing damage as baseballs are, and we don't require a private pilots's license to join the little league.

Re:both? (3, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 3 months ago | (#47491303)

If that's true then why do they care whether the usage is commercial or not? Have you read their little chart? Taking a picture of your house is fine, but a real estate agent doing the same thing is illegal. There's no difference between the actions and the aircraft - it's just the fact that money will change hands.

If this had anything to do with "safety" and all that then it wouldn't matter whether money was changing hands.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491337)

If this had anything to do with "safety" and all that then it wouldn't matter whether money was changing hands.

Once you start selling services, you should expect to be more closely regulated. The profit motive can lead to corner cutting. If hobbyists hurt themselves and their friends, that's different that someone who is out for money hurting the general public.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491591)

I don't really understand what makes a commercial drone user more likely to cut corners than a hobbyist. Hobbyists are just as likely to cut corners as a money-grubbing business.

I also don't see how it is worse if a hobbyist causes injury or property damage versus a commercial user. The commercial user is more likely to have either insurance or enough tangible assets to go after - the hobbyist is more likely to not be able to afford to pay out damages.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47497881)

Another difference is frequency and numbers. hobbyists are not flying 24/7, but a commercial drone could be. a company will also be likely to operate more than one drone at a given time... (this also explains some difference in insurance)

Re:both? (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47491413)

How many pictures of your house are you going to take? 1? 2 flights? Are you even going to bother spending the money to get a rig to do it with? Is it going to last more than the weekend you bought it simply because it isn't all that interesting too you by itself?

Now if you're doing it 5 days a week, for income? How about just weekends, for income?

The difference is frequency and motivation. You're unlikely to spend the money required on the camera alone if its just for your house and there is no profit. You certainly aren't going to take too many risks with a $500+ (minimum) camera and $500 UAV if theres no financial gain.

Now if you can pay for the UAV and make a profit? You'll be doing it FAR more often and you'll be FAR more likely to do stupid shit that could hurt people or property.

Yes, I've read their chart. I've commented on their website. Its the same logic as to why you can give your friend a ride to the airport in your personal car with a normal drivers license but you aren't allowed to charge a fee, carry random passengers and run a business without special permits and a CDL.

There are reasons we regulate businesses.

Re:both? (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 3 months ago | (#47491531)

There are reasons we regulate businesses.

Of course there are reasons - they just aren't what naive folks like yourself fancy them to be....

Re:both? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47491623)

What does that even mean?

What BitZtream said is exactly correct. You can look through the history of the FAA and look at what they are doing now. Trying to find a compromise.

Re:both? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 months ago | (#47492971)

Trying to find a compromise.

By banning the activity outright? Somehow I don't buy that at all.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491625)

Yes, I've read their chart. I've commented on their website. Its the same logic as to why you can give your friend a ride to the airport in your personal car with a normal drivers license but you aren't allowed to charge a fee, carry random passengers and run a business without special permits and a CDL.

CDLs are only required for freight haulers. Taxi/limo operators need something along the lines of a chauffeur's license and/or a taxi medallion. And the rationale behind all the taxi regulations is somewhat questionable. I don't disagree necessarily with some oversight (the specifics of which would be more relevant in another discussion) but a lot of the taxi regulations are actually there to protect entrenched interests and to artistically limit the supply and are less about safety concerns.

Uber is an obvious and good case study. Uber has some problems with how much liability they want to incur for their drivers as well as how well they do background checks; these are areas they need to improve in. However, I have witnessed in my own city (Dallas) the entrenched taxi industry (mainly Yellow Cab, who provides what is universally regarded as poor service) using its money and influence over city government to try to regulate Uber out of business. Luckily they were not successful (a news reporter caught an item in the city council consent agenda that would have been passed without debate had it not been brought to the public's attention).

Back to drones. The regulations for taxis are primarily there to protect the customers of the service and to ensure that the services are provided in a non-discriminatory sort of way. The regulations, apart from being required to carry enhanced liability coverage, do not protect non-customers. I do not feel there is a valid comparison to the drone debate here.

Re:both? (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 3 months ago | (#47491743)

Well I do happen to have a rig that can take this kind of picture. Am I allowed to photograph my own property from the air and give the pictures to my agent to include in the listing? What if I have a friend who's selling their house and I want to take pictures for him to give to his agent? What if I really enjoy taking real estate pictures and I have a friend who's an agent and I enjoy going out on a Saturday morning to take aerial photos of properties before we play a round of golf at the club? No money's changing hands so it seems like it would be fine by the FAA's "guidelines".

Also, $500 will get you the whole kit and caboodle these days. That's the price of a low-end Phantom with camera and they're dead-simple to fly. I bought their first model a while back and it's he first multirotor that I was able to fly. All the previous cheap stuff was more a matter of "avoiding crashing" than flying. If I were selling a quarter million dollar property and $500 could get me some aerial shots, that's a no-brainer.

I'm not really sure why the FAA got this bug up their ass about realtors. It's not like they're as bad as lawyers. (To my lawyer friends, I'm just kidding.) I'd think the FAA would want people to pay more for houses. The more people pay, the more the economy grows, and the more taxes are collected. Every government agency should be happy with that.

Re:both? (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47492177)

Well I do happen to have a rig that can take this kind of picture.

So do I, hence why I'm talking about it. I also have sold photos to real estate agents with it, yes, I acknowledge I'm doing exactly what I shouldn't.

Am I allowed to photograph my own property from the air and give the pictures to my agent to include in the listing? What if I have a friend who's selling their house and I want to take pictures for him to give to his agent? What if I really enjoy taking real estate pictures and I have a friend who's an agent and I enjoy going out on a Saturday morning to take aerial photos of properties before we play a round of golf at the club? No money's changing hands so it seems like it would be fine by the FAA's "guidelines".

No, if you bothered to read and understand the policy, none of those are legal. The photos taken can not be USED for commercial purposes. The VERY FIRST post to this article has a link to make it clear for those of you who fail at reading comprehension. Long story short, just because you don't get a check or a $20 bill doesn't mean its legal, but I suspect you knew that well before making the bunk argument.

Also, $500 will get you the whole kit and caboodle these days. That's the price of a low-end Phantom with camera and they're dead-simple to fly. I bought their first model a while back and it's he first multirotor that I was able to fly. All the previous cheap stuff was more a matter of "avoiding crashing" than flying. If I were selling a quarter million dollar property and $500 could get me some aerial shots, that's a no-brainer.

I have a $30 toy heli with a built in camera as well. But just like a $500 phantom, its no where near the quality required to do actual commercial work.

$500 will barely buy you a camera of high enough quality to do any commercial work, it certainly won't buy you the UAV of sufficient size, gimble AND the camera. I have gimbals that cost more than a phantom. Putting a $10k USD UAV into the air for quality photos is pretty normal, but it can be done 'good enough' for $1500 as well. $500 ... no, that shows me you don't actually know what you're talking about. Theres a whole lot more to aerial photography than strapping a $40 digital camera on to your toy.

Just because you have a phantom with a go pro attached doesn't mean you know what you're talking about.

I'm not really sure why the FAA got this bug up their ass about realtors.

Again, if you had any idea what you're talking about, you'd know that realtors are the ones that are eating this stuff up. Beautiful shots of homes on demand without paying for a full sized heli to do it. MUCH cheaper. Thats where 95-99% of the photo work for UAVs is done right now. Theres also construction work where someone wants to see some progress of construction as its going along without being on site or get an overview to see what the contractor is doing. Surveying for farming is probably third on the list. Then the lowest I've dealt with is things like events, which is good because those are the most dangerous as they almost universally involve flying around crowds of people.

So again, like I stated originally, just because you can buy something capable of doing the deed doesn't make you qualified to do so. You can buy a hammer and some wire cutters from the hardware store, do you think that makes you qualified to build a safe house for people as well? Hint: It doesn't.

Re:both? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 3 months ago | (#47494033)

So again, like I stated originally, just because you can buy something capable of doing the deed doesn't make you qualified to do so. You can buy a hammer and some wire cutters from the hardware store, do you think that makes you qualified to build a safe house for people as well? Hint: It doesn't.

You're equating flying a $500 drone with a camera with being a professional engineer.

Did you know that if you hit a baseball and it goes the wrong way you could land it on the face of a driver going 70mph in a convertible and kill them? Does that mean that we should require $15k worth of training to operate a baseball bat? Heck, we allow people to buy guns which are outright designed with the primary purpose of killing people, and you don't need any training to legally operate one, or even to legally kill somebody with it in some circumstances.

Why not just have some common-sense rules to keep drones at low altitudes and away from airports, and allow for higher-altitude use with appropriate training and equipment. Heck, the FAA can't even get people to put ADS-B in their planes because they can't figure out how to regulate them in a way that doesn't make them cost a fortune, despite every giveaway cell phone in the country being more sophisticated (even feature phones).

The problem is that the FAA hasn't figured out how to regulate anything other than airliners, so they just try to turn everything into an airliner.

Re:both? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 3 months ago | (#47494055)

One other thing - appropriate training for flying a drone is not the same as for flying a plane. There is no need to have a class 2 medical to fly a drone, or a regular pilot's license. Being able to demonstrate stick-and-rudder skills is pointless when you're flying something with a keyboard and a mouse. Really the appropriate training would probably be about procedures and maintenance more than anything else, and there is no need for it to be expensive.

Requiring a conventional pilot's license to fly a drone is like the FBI requiring people investigating computer crimes to first prove themselves by apprehending drug dealers on the streets.

I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47494325)

Now we know where all the rage is coming from. BitZtream doesn't want anybody playing on his playground.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47493501)

... and you'll be FAR more likely to do stupid shit that could hurt people or property.

That's a serious overstatement. Anyone wanting to be successful in business understands that the product or service needs to be repeatable. Cutting corners puts the business assets at risk. No rational person starting a business takes unnecessary risks. Those who cut corners are either crooks to begin with or have a monopoly on their market.

Re:both? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47493601)

Yes. The more often you do it, the more likely you are to be good at it. The more you spent on your gear, the more protective of that gear you will be. The more you stand to lose if your gear is damaged or destroyed, the more careful you will be to avoid incidents (your booked clients aren't going to wait forever while you try to fix your busted up camera and drone).

There is a good argument to include self-employed contractors into the hobby group for the purposes of regulation. It's when you get big enough that decision making, execution, and consequences are separated that you stray into constructive psychopathy.

Re:both? (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 3 months ago | (#47494179)

Um... this is exactly how pilot licensing works - same aircraft, same actions, difference is money? Bam, you need a commercial pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate won't do. Commercial operators are held to a higher safety standard, which makes sense - money brings with it a set of pressures and constraints that your average weekend pilot doesn't have, so their skills should be better.

Would you prefer the FAA require certification of all drone operators, commercial or not? Because they'll do that before they allow commercial usage of drones without at least some oversight.

Re:both? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47491375)

The FAA had made the current policies to prevent idiots who think they know everything who have more money than brains from getting a UAV and hurting people by dropping it on someones head, though their roof or flying it into another aircraft.

Nonsense. The current regulations don't do that. If they did, they would be based on drone weight, method of control, altitude, etc. rather than "commercial" vs "non-commercial". The polices appear to be designed solely to ensure that nobody creates any jobs for Americans, earns income to support their families, or offers useful services that other are willing to pay for.

Re:both? (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47491639)

You are incorrect. The current regulation remove the profit motive from everyone.

". If they did, they would be based on drone weight, method of control, altitude, etc."
They are working on those. Maybe you should pay attention instead of just spew nonsense?

"rather than "commercial" vs "non-commercial""
becasue it's the easiest way to do so until regulation are finished.
They are making regulation and understanding the details.

"The polices appear to be designed solely to ensure that nobody creates any jobs for Americans,"
What the fuck? Are you an idiot or some Fox alarmist?
You're post is idiotic, and contrary to all evidence and history of the FAA.

Re:both? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#47494051)

I am well left of the Democrats as they are today and I agree with ShanghaiBill. In what way is an attempted ban on all commercial use (which means employed use) not killing employment? As he said, the very same activity with the very same equipment and observance of safety is banned if it is commercial. If there was some articulable reason that commercial use would present additional hazards, that would be fine, but I have seen none and the FAA has offered none.

Regulation is not intrinsically bad (in fact, it's often essential) but it needs to be justifiable.

Re:both? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47492473)

The current regulations don't do that. If they did, they would be based on drone weight, method of control, altitude, etc.

R/C aircraft also have rules related to these things, the current generation of quad just fulls well below the weight limit. Method of control is one of the points of contention, specifically the requirement for line of sight. Altitude is already limited to 400 feet AGL.

Let me drop a 2 pound UAV on your head from even 10 feet above you, then will talk about how those rules need revising now that any idiot and his 8 year old son can control one. My lightest UAV weighs about 4, the largest about 12. The weight rules were made back in the 60s when it took real skill to fly, months of meticulous building and thousands of dollars. The people who had those aircraft were careful and thoughtful or they wouldn't even get anywhere near the flying field. Now days anyone can buy a fully ready to control one from walmart. The rules have to be revised.

It amazes me how often people completely ignorant of the issue talk about how the FAA isn't being logical.

The commercial bit limits the number of people who will try it because it makes the only incentive to do so one of pleasure and interest in the process and skill, not money.

The polices appear to be designed solely to ensure that nobody creates any jobs for Americans, earns income to support their families, or offers useful services that other are willing to pay for.

Ah yes, you're one of those people. The government doesn't want to create jobs! It just wants to tax us more while we're unemployed! The gubment is evil, Bush is ebil, Barak Osama is ebil.

You're an idiot.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47494355)

My lightest UAV weighs about 4, the largest about 12. The weight rules were made back in the 60s when it took real skill to fly, months of meticulous building and thousands of dollars. The people who had those aircraft were careful and thoughtful or they wouldn't even get anywhere near the flying field. Now days anyone can buy a fully ready to control one from walmart. The rules have to be revised.

Whahhh! I spent real money on my professional toys and I don't want any of you whippersnappers out there playing with your cheap knockoffs. The skies and fly parks are mine. All mine. My own. My precious...

Re:both? (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 3 months ago | (#47497049)

I fly kites. I have kites bigger than some of your flying machines. And they go way, way, way higher than 10 feet. I've run out 1000 yards before. I have two acquaintances who have broken 2 miles.

There is no logical basis in applying the commercial vs. private airplane scenario to drones. The commercial regulations are there to protect.. passengers. The people on the ground need the same protection from crashing planes regardless of whether it's Delta's 737 or John Travolta's 737.

Since there is no passenger to worry about in a drone scenario the only factor to consider is people on the ground, who need the exact same protection whether or not the person doing the operation is a hobbyist, an 8 year old, or a business.

Why are you so angry? (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 3 months ago | (#47491399)

Waddgodd simply asked a question and you go postal. This is not the work of a "screaming idiot" Calm down. This is a serious issue that is not well served by rants such as yours. If I had to pick the screaming idiot here I wouldn't pick Waddgodd.

You say you operate illegally, and then you go off on the "douchbags" and "idiots" that also operate illegally. Take a look at yourself.

The regulations might need to be revised, but making the entire RC hobby illegal is the wrong approach. If you really have been flying for 30 years you would think differently about this.

Re:Why are you so angry? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47491651)

No, his post is exactly spot on.

", but making the entire RC hobby illegal "
It, in no way, will do that.

I've been an enthusiast since '79, off and on, not hard core.
Also, I'm a thinker, can understand context and regulation, and look historically at how thing have happened.

If you think the proposed regulation will outlaw RC, with then you are being an idiot. Literally., you are being idiotic. Stop it.

Re:Why are you so angry? (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 3 months ago | (#47492223)

OK. The proposed regulations are complex, so let me give you one example to illustrate my point. The proposed regulations require the RC pilot to notify any airport within five miles before flying an RC aircraft of any kind, even if the aircraft is a childs toy being flown in a suburban backyard. This requirement presumably really means ANY airport. Almost any town of 15,000 people has a small airport. Larger cities have multiple small airports in addition to maybe a major airport. Most of the small airports are little more than a grass strip and a few hangers. Many of them won't even have somebody answering the phone. How many people even know if they are within five miles of an airport? Most are, but few really know.

The bottom line is that most people won't be calling, even if they knew who to call. That would make them criminals. Would the average park flier call? I doubt it. Criminals all. What if they tried to call and got no answer? Still a criminal? Maybe.

I'm not saying people will quit flying if the regulations are enacted. Most will just become criminals and continue flying.

I stand by my statement, idiot or not.

Re:Why are you so angry? (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 3 months ago | (#47497067)

On top of that, it's extra stupid, since as a private pilots you don't even need to call the airport when you are within 5 miles. It's more regulation than a person flying in a plane is subject to.

Re:Why are you so angry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47499469)

You have serious anger management issues, old man. Chill before you ill.

Re:Why are you so angry? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47492203)

Because he's an ignorant douche who thinks the FAA is wrong and is talking about getting 'bitchslapped'.

He's the kind of person who causes the rest of us problems and that sort of ignorance pisses me off.

At no point did I say I was for making the hobby illegal. His sort of ignorant response and the public behaving like that is what will result in the hobby being regulated to all hell and back.

The reason the hobby has been so loosely regulated to date is because we've been self policing and proactive about it. It used to require experience to get into the hobby, so if you were some arrogant dangerous prick trying to learn, you'd have to spend a lot of money replacing equipment because no one who flew would help you learn so you'd have to do it by brute force.

ArduPilot and Multi Wii changed that. ArduPilot and MultiWii showed that you could, fairly easily, control an aircraft with cheap MEMS sensors for a couple hundred bucks at most. I can get a full autopilot from hong kong (a cheap ArduPilot clone) for under $100 that will fly pretty much ANY RC airplane, helicopter, or quad as well as control an RC car. Completely autonomously.

Now anyone can control an aircraft. Note: I said control, not fly. ArduPilot flies the aircraft, you just tell it where to go more or less. ArduPilot is more or less what all these knockoffs are based on. Well, not ArduPilot alone, there are a handful of OSS implementations that are all somewhat related to each other even if they aren't sharing code. Parrot and Phantom quads? Those are straight up are almost certainly direct rip-offs of ardupilot or the other MAVLink software who's name escapes me and I'm too lazy to look up.

No, I want to be able to fly my aircraft, but dumb ass statements like 'the FAA needs to be bitchslapped' are the exact people who will fuck it up for me.

Re:both? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491493)

If you 'search the net' for events relating to drones ... take away the EquuSearch related results, you'll find that pretty much EVERY ONE OF THEM is some fucking moron doing something that either DID hurt someone, was dangers as shit, came very close to hurting someone, or certainly had the potential to hurt someone.

I've been paying attention to the almost daily news stories about "drones," and I have not observed what you claim. The vast majority are people spooked by multirotors hovering around.

A commercial drone at a wedding [nbcnewyork.com]
A creepy guy flying a multirotor around a medical faciltiy [thesmokinggun.com]
NYPD getting excited about another multirotor [myfoxdc.com]
FAA warns a multirotor pilot to stay at low altitude [cbslocal.com]
"Drone" crashes in someones yard [cbslocal.com]
"Drone" videos Pirates baseball game [cbslocal.com]
Drug smuggling with a multirotor [yahoo.com]
"Drone" reported outside someone's apartment [cbslocal.com]
"Drone" used to spy on French football team [businessinsider.com]
Woman Attacking Teen with "drone" [cbslocal.com]

Some of those were dangerous to aircraft, but most didn't involve manned aircraft, and no one was hurt or killed. There have been plenty of close calls [bloomberg.com] with model planes, but there haven't been many actual collisions and I'm not finding any deaths due to collisions with manned aircraft.

In all likelihood there won't be either. Most of these "drones" are small and light. When they collide with manned aircraft they disintegrate and perhaps scratch some paint. Here [youtube.com] is what happens when a aerobatic aircraft slams into a typical model plane. Balsa and foam don't rate against aircraft aluminum. Is a death possible? Of course. Obviously. However, I think the interval between such events will be many years and the fault will not be attributed to the drones in every case, either.

I'm with you in that the stupid among us are creating the need for regulation. Adding to the hysteria of it all with claims of imminent "danger" is not useful.

Re: both? (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 3 months ago | (#47491903)

So you are saying that government can be the solution to some problems when they are at the will of the people and when people aren't lazy and ignorant we can keep them from being the cause?

I never bought political one liners. Thanks for understanding there is nuance and a middle way.

Re:both? (1)

Aaron Curtis (3685749) | about 3 months ago | (#47492081)

BitZtream, I don't think EquuSearch is an "EXTREMELY rare exception to the rule." UAV are already extensively used by nonprofits and researchers in ecology, poaching prevention, and in my case, volcanology. These positive uses, by nonprofits and universites, have been around for years. However, we are forced to do things in a manner that the FAA claims is illegal, and live in fear of lawsuit.

If I understand correctly you are saying that the FAA's June Interperative Ruling, which bans FPV and claims that model aircraft are subject to the same rules as full-sized aircraft (all in direct opposition to the 2012 Reauthorization Act which says FAA cannot regulate model aircraft at all), is a good thing, because it's not a law. This is a rather strange argument. FAA claims their Interpretation of the law is enforcable as law; that's the whole point of these lawsuits. It's true that they have not gotten any signficant bills to congress, which you are saying is a good thing. It seems you are arguing that their incompetence is actually a clever tactic they are using to protect us from themselves. Is that what you meant?

By the way, I disagree with most of your supporting anectdotes and facts, especially the statement that "EVERY ONE OF" the "events relating to drones" on "the net" "was dangers as shit."

Re:both? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47492249)

Random anti-poaching people are examples of doing it wrong, just like the jackasses on Whale Wars. Every example of anti-poaching with UAVs 'I've SEEN' has been an example of breaking the law because its okay for you but not them.

If I understand correctly you are saying that the FAA's June Interperative Ruling, which bans FPV and claims that model aircraft are subject to the same rules as full-sized aircraft (all in direct opposition to the 2012 Reauthorization Act which says FAA cannot regulate model aircraft at all),

You're utterly wrong on your interpretation of this. It reiterates that FPV is banned. This isn't new. Doesn't stipulate that RC aircraft are required to follow the same rules as full sized aircraft at all, unless they want to operate for commercial purposes, but again, this isn't new.

FAA claims their Interpretation of the law is enforcable as law

The FAA makes the law in this area. They are correct in principal. From a technical perspective however, they are suing based on policies not actual regulations.

that's the whole point of these lawsuits.

No, the point of these lawsuits is the FAA is attempting to enforce based on policy they haven't made into official regulation yet. They are attempting to stop people who refuse to wait until proper regulation can be ironed out. This is not a good thing. Its a horrible thing.

Its horrible because these people are essentially going to force the FAA to rush the process of coming up with actual regulations.

The easiest thing for the FAA to do is to open the regulation for public comments, ignore them all, and just turn their policy as it stands into actual regulation. Then these court cases are over and the FAA wins, period. NO ONE WANTS THAT.

It's true that they have not gotten any signficant bills to congress

They don't have to get any bills to congress. The FAA makes the regulations governing the skys. Congress delegated that authority to them the 50s or so. The FAA has to follow certain rules about how it makes regulations, including open public comment periods, but they are in no way required to listen to the public comments and congress doesn't get to tell them what to do, only appoint people to lead the organization.

The FAA is one of the few government organizations that actually does its job reasonably well. I have no idea how this manages to be the case, but so far it is.

It seems you are arguing that their incompetence is actually a clever tactic they are using to protect us from themselves. Is that what you meant?

... I'm stating that they are NOT INCOMPETENT. They are taking the time to properly evaluate the situation and come up with a workable plan, as they always have. One that allows hobbyists to keep doing our thing and allows for safe commercial use without killing or maiming people.

By the way, I disagree with most of your supporting anectdotes and facts

Well of course you do ... Its possible to disagree with anecdotes, though doing so by offering your own response without providing any facts or anecdotes at all just makes you look silly. Disagreeing with fact just makes you look stupid however.

If you look at the postings related to UAVs on slashdot its fairly easy to see my point, but that would require you educating yourself rather than just disagreeing, wouldn't it?

Re:both? (1)

Aaron Curtis (3685749) | about 3 months ago | (#47492147)

What you don't want is the FAA getting pissed off at idiots like you and fast tracking a regulation that makes any autonomous or camera equipped aircraft of any size or use to require a Certificate of Airworthiness, which is the EASIEST thing for them to do.

But this is essentially what they've already done. They've said a CoA is required if you take pictures with a model aircraft for profit, and they've said that their word is enforceable by law. Here are the regulations I think we actually need, probably just for RC aircraft big enough to hurt someone: - Traceable identification for individual UAVs - ADS-B Transponders for UAVs large enough to damage aircraft - Prohibitions on flying over people and roads - A quick, easy, licensing scheme that allows exemption on said prohibitions and might be required for commercial use FAA has done none of these. Instead, they're freaking out and banning random harmless uses like FPV, and forcing the drone photography industry to turn into a black market. You're a black market operator yourself, as admitted. If getting a CoA is so easy, why don't you have one? Why do no commerical entities, except for BP, have one?

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47507825)

You prove you don't know what you're talking about when you say FPV is harmless. FPV has always been banned. You've always had to have your aircraft in sight. This is a good rule, and morons who break it willy nilly should be prosecuted.

Re:both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47493533)

So, you admit you regularly break the law, but you call waddgodd a douche? You're an asshole and I hope you're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Re:both? (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 3 months ago | (#47494857)

The FAA had made the current policies to prevent idiots who think they know everything (i.e. people like you) who have more money than brains from getting a UAV and hurting people by dropping it on someones head, though their roof or flying it into another aircraft. [...] As someone who flies UAVs for fun and profit (yes, I fly them illegally) I am in 100% agreement with the FAA at this point. I've been flying RC for almost 30 years and universally, the people who scream the loudest about the FAA regulation and policies are the idiots who get people hurt.

This little rant reminds me very much of the foaming at the mouth that occurred when cheap GMRS radios first came on the market: a hobby that had previously been limited to a small, insular group of uber-geeky hobbyists suddenly became accessible to anybody with a few bucks to spend, and they couldn't fucking stand it. Times change. It takes very little skill to fly a modern quadcopter (and, I might add, so so safely). There will always be dumbasses in the world. But the genie is not going back in the bottle.

RE: FAA and regulations (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 2 months ago | (#47496869)

Can't really speak for the poster you're chastising .... but perhaps at least some of his anger is perfectly justified? IMO, the core issue is that our government is still very much caught up in the idea that we want it to legislate our safety, even when it costs us our personal freedom.

Many U.S. citizens really aren't on-board with that. Some of us actually dare to question why, for example, we should receive citations from police for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle, or for choosing not to fasten a seat-belt in a vehicle. (Heck, a cop on a motorcycle that has no seat belts might be the one to issue you that seat belt violation when you get pulled over! +1 Irony.)

By the same token, I think many of us (myself included) view the FAA's real reason for existence having to do with commercial aircraft. Letting them waste time and energy on drone aircraft, flying at low altitudes and operated for entertainment, hobby or other such purposes seems pretty far out of that scope of authority. The whole argument that, "A drone might crash land and injure somebody it falls on!" or "It might collide with someone's property and damage it!" strikes me as something we already have plenty of laws in place to handle. What happens when you drive your car off the road and damage someone's front yard and fence? What happens if you throw something heavy out an upstairs window and it hits some passer-by on the head as he walks down the sidewalk? Substitute a drone as the object engaged in the impact -- and you'll realize it can be handled without ANY advance regulation by the FAA.

Re:both? (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 2 months ago | (#47496951)

I disagree strongly on three specific points:

1. The FAA obviously cannot prevent all, or even most, of the bad stuff that happens. A few years ago a plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a house 1 1/2 blocks from my house. The pilot died. If anyone had of been home, everyone in the house would have been dead, probably instantly. It's rare occasion, but it goes to show that the FAA isn't going to solve all problems.

2. I am much more comfortable with an agency of government doing nothing, than doing something lawless. What the Court has done here is what everyone who follows this knows - tell the FAA that they have been acting lawlessly threatening people with fines for violating words which are not law, do not have the force of law, and are in fact just dictates and threats that are legally unenforceable. I would much rather let idiots do what idiots will do than live under the tryanny of unelected, unaccountable, unjust people.

3. The knows exactly how to make regulations. It does so continuously. They know exactly how to propose, accept comments, formulate and promulgate regulations which are the law of the land. They also know they haven't done it for certain activities. Why isn't anyone at the FAA facing jail time for knowingly exceeding their legal authority? This wasn't a close call. The FAA is ordering people around without the legal authority to do so. It's extortion. It's not a technical little violation, it's quite obviously knowingly done.

I could not care less about drone, RC, aircraft, or other regulation. I am comfortable that idiots will be idiots, and that people are doing dumb stuff with drones. All that comes with life. What doesn't come with life is unaccountable tyranny. The FAA should just stop. All the letters, all the threats, all the lies, until it completes the regulation process.

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FAA, Drones, and EquuSearch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491297)

One would hope that this - plus the FAA going after the congress-critter on the committe that oversees the FAA - changes a few things for the better.

Grave misconception (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 3 months ago | (#47491323)

...clearly operating to the benefit of society (as opposed to purely commercial drone use)...

Is this some kind of anglo-american thing? Over here the reason commercial entities get tax breaks is because they should be operating to the benefit of society. Economic speculation and other short-sighted ventures are tolerated as the exception and not the norm of society.

Re:Grave misconception (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 3 months ago | (#47491401)

Is this some kind of anglo-american thing? Over here the reason commercial entities get tax breaks is because they should be operating to the benefit of society.

Hey now - That's just crazy talk!

Economical (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47491331)

Using Drones in search and rescue operations if highly economical.

After all, using humans in search and rescue can lead to unintended deaths of the search and rescue teams
and not to forget the monetary cost of the operation and equipment.

Using Drones equipped with Hell-Fire missiles to eradicate survivors will cut costs substantially. And, given that search
and rescue is considered a Military Operation, all insurance policies of the victims will be null and void thus
pleasing the insurance companies who reward their executives lavishly with cash, drugs and prostitutes.

Braindead summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47492761)

The court ruled against Equusearch, dismissing its case against the FAA because the letter telling Equusearch that they are not allowed to use drone was not a cease-and-desist letter but rather of informational nature and so the court saw not fit to grant any relief.

So Equusearch has to pay for this case, and then provoke a cease-and-desist order from the FAA and another lawsuit and associated costs before they even have a chance to make their case.

Adjust your skirt, your slip is showing (1)

eric_harris_76 (861235) | about 2 months ago | (#47496815)

Well, this is incorrect: "EquuSearch, which is clearly operating to the benefit of society (as opposed to purely commercial drone use)"

People who buy goods and services in the commercial sphere do so because they expect to benefit. Otherwise, they'd keep their money. Those people are part of society.

That the providers of those goods and services profit (or hope to, soon) doesn't change those facts.

What proposed regulations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47500459)

The comment period is for an interpretation of a law.
Is this all we get for a comment period on regs?

Call my crazy, but it seems like a comment period on proposed regs should have some actual proposed regs.
Lacking that, a good start would be a request for proposed rule sets.
      or at keast a request for proposed methods for dividing up the NAS.

The FAA is letting time pass which is contrary to safety.
I would really like to know why.
Perhaps they just move slow.
Perhaps the election cycle.
Perhaps to wait for an accident to get \emergengy\ rule making authority.

This ruling was not a 'win' it just said that an e-mail suggesting you stop does not require you to stop.
This does bear on the issue of if there are actual enforcable regs in place.
Perhaps a better /. headline would be
    Yet another FAA UAV ruling emphasizes the lack of proper procedure.

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