Monday, December 1, 2014

Have Drone Will Travel

Drones can quickly ascertain storm damage

The long awaited FAA rules to keep the skies safe from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles takes a scorched earth approach by requiring operators to have a pilots license, which costs many thousands of dollars, and even then restricting flights to more than 400 vertical feet during daylight hours only.

Talk about a deal killer.

Let's hope the outcry, which will mimic the sound of angry bees made by the whirring propeller blades, gets the attention of killjoy bureaucrats.

Mandating a pilots license for flying a drone is like requiring a ham radio license for operation of a smart phone, or requiring Twitter users to have a broadcast license from the FCC.

Back in the mid 1970s when CB radio interest skyrocketed and the 23 channels became swamped by avid users the FCC allowed expansion to 40 channels to deal with the rise in popularity.  And yes, a license was required but all it took was filling out a form and sending in a check for $20.

Sure, like all things in life a nitwit few can give the huge majority of responsible aficionados a bad name by doing stupid irresponsible things.  Just as a hammer can be used as a weapon, so too can a drone flying at top speed into someone's head.  Or getting too close to a commercial jet.

The recent technological improvements using GPS satellites navigation, return home failsafe features, and airport avoidance software demonstrates the industry is capable of policing itself.  DJI the industry leader, is doing for drones what AOL did for Internet usage 20 years ago -- making things simpler and less scary.

Over the past year I can think of many occasions where Amherst public safety departments could have used an eye in the sky:  The Blarney Blowout or Southpoint Apartments fire quickly spring to mind.  Or search and rescue at the top The Notch. 

A drone is fast, fearless, immune to smoke ... and the camera never blinks.  

Rather than throw a bucket of water on solid state circuitry, the FAA needs to apply simple, common sense rules to control drone usage over the land of the free. 

Canada keeps it simple


Anonymous said...

"The FAA says pilots have reported 15 close calls with small rogue drones near airports in the past two years."

You really need your toys that bad?

Larry Kelley said...

The FAA has a pretty loose standard for what constitutes a "close call."

And a lot of serious users do not consider them "toys."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but somehow I guess the right wingtip is pretty close.

"Quadcopter drone 'deliberately flown at passenger airliner'

Pilot of 74-seater airliner said quadcopter was 'very close' to right wing-tip"

Read more:

Larry Kelley said...

Nitwits also direct laser pointers at the eyes of commercial pilots.

Do we need strict regulations for laser pointers?

Anonymous said...

I think all laser pointer operators should also be licensed pilots.

Anonymous said...

Better a close call with another drone than something carrying a human.

Anonymous said...

You lived without it just fine up until a year or two ago. Now you can't live without it. Funny how that goes.

Anonymous said...

When laser pointers are putlawed, only outlaws will have laser pointers.

Walter Graff said...

Wait till you see the new quad-copter that Go Pro is about to introduce. They'll be thousands more folks buying them.

Richard Buckman said...

You should be more clear (unless it's a misunderstanding on your part) that the new proposed rules aren't for all drone flying, just commercial flying. You and I will still be able to have all the fun we want with our quadcopters. We just won't be able to make money from it. Don't get me wrong though, I still think their new rules are ridiculous. But our hobby is at least not directly in danger. (Although this is arguably more ridiculous, since hobbyists are probably more dangerous than commercial drone pilots, since commercial drone pilots are flying on behalf of an organization most of the time).

Anonymous said...

Larry, how about we go up in a Cessna and go drone hunting. We'll try to crash into one and see how it turns out.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah I do have a hard time believing my little drone (or the newer model) would do any damage at all to a grown up airplane.

I guess if a half dozen suddenly got sucked into a jet engine that could be problematic.

But a pilot should be able to see such a swarm of kamikazes coming, and take evasive action.

Anonymous said...

Agree. The cold section of a turbine engine could be wrecked by even a single one, resulting in catastrophic failure. Prop plane, batter up! Perhaps if it caused significant damage to a lift producing surface or impacted control surfaces, it might do something, but these off the shelf camera ones probably wouldn't do anything.

Anonymous said...

Just one seagull sucked into each turbine while taking off from JFK forced a commercial jet to ditch in the Hudson, Larry. Why don't you interview the pilot of that plane and post that here?

Anonymous said...

And while they're up there by all means, take out a few members of ISIS, willya?

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1:25

Pretty sure it was three Canada geese that took out both engines on flight out of La Guardia that ended up in the Hudson.

One seagull going through one of the engines would not have resulted in the emergency water landing. The A320 could have made it back to La Guardia on one engine.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah I do have a hard time believing my little drone (or the newer model) would do any damage at all to a grown up airplane."

Why don't I throw a rock at your windshield while you're driving a hundred and twenty miles an hour? I'm sure you'll be fine.