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What FARs cover R/C drones?



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 22nd 06, 05:08 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

The following news item has the FAA on the Los Angeles' sheriff's case
about the sheriff's use of R/C planes. I've searched the FARs in the past
to see if I could find what regs covered radio controlled (or more
interestingly, autonomous) aircraft and came up with nothing. I think the
Sheriff has a valid question in asking why they need a "certificate of
authorization" but Joe citizen does not. Here's a link to the story and
relevant quoted portions:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercu...a/14875403.htm

"Federal authorities have temporarily grounded Sheriff Lee Baca's plans to
fight crime using unmanned surveillance drones.

Baca hopes to use the small, remote-controlled planes to monitor events
such as standoffs and hostage situations, and search for fleeing suspects.
Last week, sheriff's officials demonstrated one of the 3-foot-long planes
in an abandoned field, showing it take off, beam video images 250 feet to
deputies below, and land.

The test, however, irked officials from the Federal Aviation
Administration, who said they had told the Sheriff's Department that it
needed a certificate of authorization from the FAA before flying the
planes."
....
""A private citizen can go to the store and buy one of those model
airplanes and fly them around. But because we're doing it as a public
service, we have to deal with the FAA?" said Sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal."

So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size threshold)?
Also, what FARs would cover autonomous (robot controlled) aircraft?
Ads
  #2  
Old June 22nd 06, 05:31 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

According to this morning's paper, the FAA has shot down the LA Sherrif's
proposal. Never mind.

Bob Gardner

"Jim Logajan" wrote in message
.. .
The following news item has the FAA on the Los Angeles' sheriff's case
about the sheriff's use of R/C planes. I've searched the FARs in the past
to see if I could find what regs covered radio controlled (or more
interestingly, autonomous) aircraft and came up with nothing. I think the
Sheriff has a valid question in asking why they need a "certificate of
authorization" but Joe citizen does not. Here's a link to the story and
relevant quoted portions:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercu...a/14875403.htm

"Federal authorities have temporarily grounded Sheriff Lee Baca's plans to
fight crime using unmanned surveillance drones.

Baca hopes to use the small, remote-controlled planes to monitor events
such as standoffs and hostage situations, and search for fleeing suspects.
Last week, sheriff's officials demonstrated one of the 3-foot-long planes
in an abandoned field, showing it take off, beam video images 250 feet to
deputies below, and land.

The test, however, irked officials from the Federal Aviation
Administration, who said they had told the Sheriff's Department that it
needed a certificate of authorization from the FAA before flying the
planes."
...
""A private citizen can go to the store and buy one of those model
airplanes and fly them around. But because we're doing it as a public
service, we have to deal with the FAA?" said Sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal."

So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size threshold)?
Also, what FARs would cover autonomous (robot controlled) aircraft?



  #3  
Old June 22nd 06, 05:42 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?



Jim Logajan wrote:
[snipped]
So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size threshold)?
Also, what FARs would cover autonomous (robot controlled) aircraft?


A Google search, using "FAA radio-control aircraft" and "FAA UAV vs
model aircraft" as the criteria, came up with the following.... from
what I have read, the FAA has some legitimate concerns about UAV
operations, especially in busy airspace (which would be the most likely
places that the law enforcment folks would want to use them, I would
think.) -

"A private citizen can go to the store and buy one of those model
airplanes and fly them around. But because we're doing it as a public
service, we have to deal with the FAA?" said Sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal."
- The Sheriff's Cmdr. apparently doesn't understand the difference
between the RC Models and a UAV.

http://www.house.gov/transportation/...29-06memo.html

http://www.acq.osd.mil/uas/docs/airspace2.doc

http://www.politechbot.com/2006/03/2...llance-in-the/

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/archi.../t-358461.html

Randy

  #4  
Old June 22nd 06, 06:18 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

"Randy Aldous" wrote in message
ups.com...
So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size
threshold)?
Also, what FARs would cover autonomous (robot controlled) aircraft?


A Google search, using "FAA radio-control aircraft" and "FAA UAV vs
model aircraft" as the criteria, came up with the following.... from
what I have read, the FAA has some legitimate concerns about UAV
operations, especially in busy airspace


IMHO, the FAA has a legitimate concern regarding UAV use *anywhere* within
the US, busy airspace or not. They have indicated as much in imposing TFRs
for the purpose of operating UAVs along the southern border (even if that is
a less-than-satisfactory solution).

[...]
"A private citizen can go to the store and buy one of those model
airplanes and fly them around. But because we're doing it as a public
service, we have to deal with the FAA?" said Sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal."
- The Sheriff's Cmdr. apparently doesn't understand the difference
between the RC Models and a UAV.


Well, to be fair, even looking at the links you offered, it seems he's not
alone. I'm a bit surprised that there doesn't appear to be anything in the
FARs that at least provides an exception from the FARs for the operation of
radio-controlled models, but perhaps that's implied by some broader
exception I didn't notice.

That said, it does seem to me that there's an obvious difference between
what is considered a UAV (as used by law enforcement, for example) and a
radio-controlled model. Even ignoring the usual difference in size and
flight altitude (which we may as well, since those are not absolutes even
for model airplanes), the primary difference is that radio-controlled models
are always flown in direct sight, under direct control of the operator. And
if they weren't, I would say that would put them squarely into the UAV
category, and subject to the same FAA oversight.

I do find it interesting that the rcgroups.com thread seems to be focusing
somewhat on the commercial vs recreational aspects:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/archi.../t-358461.html


While I wouldn't be completely surprised if the FAA chose that route to
differentiation, I think it would make more sense to focus on the size of
the aircraft and degree of operator involvement. Of most concern is an
operator who is not in the immediate area, looking directly at the aircraft
and the airspace around it.

In this respect, Cmdr. Sid Heal does seem to miss the point in thinking that
his law enforcement craft are somehow equivalent to radio-controlled model
airplanes. But it would be nice if the written law were a bit more clear on
the matter, so that people who don't see these obvious differences can be
referred to a document that gives them something to consider.

Pete


  #5  
Old June 22nd 06, 06:20 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 16:08:03 -0000, Jim Logajan wrote in
:

So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size threshold)?


The FAA accepts the Academy of Model Aeronautics definition of a recreational
model as weighing 55 lbs (dry, I think) and operating under 400' altitude
(a provision busted every day by all kinds of RC aircraft).

From:
http://www.ihsaviation.com/faa/N8700.25.pdf

NOTICE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
N 8700.25
10/10/03
Cancellation
Date: 10/10/04
SUBJ: INQUIRIES RELATED TO UNMANNED AEROSPACE VEHICLE OPERATIONS

NOTE: This notice does not apply to the recreational, noncommercial use of model
aircraft. It is not intended to inhibit or restrict the routine operation of
model aircraft for recreational purposes. (The Academy of Model Aeronautics, in
part, defines model aircraft as weighing less than 55 pounds and being
operated below 400 feet above ground level.) Additional guidance for the
operation of these aircraft is provided in Advisory Circular AC 91-57, Model
Aircraft Operating Standards, dated June 9, 1981.

http://www.eoss.org/faa/AFS_400_UAS_POLICY_05_01.pdf

"AFS-400 UAS POLICY 05-01
TITLE: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations in the U. S. National Airspace
System - Interim Operational Approval Guidance
DATE: September 16, 2005
1. Purpose: AFS-400 UAS Policy 05-01 provides guidance to be used to determine
if unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) may be allowed to conduct flight operations
in the U. S. National Airspace System (NAS). AFS-400 personnel will use this
policy guidance when evaluating each application for a Certificate of Waiver or
Authorization (COA). Due to the rapid evolution of UAS technology, this policy
will be subject to continuous review and updated when appropriate."

The police officer probably ran afoul of this provision:

"6.11. Flight Over Congested or Populated Areas. If flight over congested areas,
heavily trafficked roads, or an open-air assembly of persons is required, the
applicant must provide information that clearly establishes that the risk of
injury to persons on the ground is highly unlikely."


Both documents refer back to a 1981 advisory circular under which the
Academy of Model Aeronautics has been operating:

http://www.eoss.org/faa/ac91-57.pdf

"1. PURPOSE. This advisory circular outlines, and encourages voluntary
compliance with, safety standards for model aircraft operators.

"2. BACKGROUND. Modelers, generally, are concerned about safety and do exercise
good judgement when flying model aircraft. However, model.aircraft can
at times pose a hazard to full-scale aircraft in flight and to personsand
property on the surface. Compliance with the following standards will help
reduce the potential for that hazard and create a good neighbor environment
with affected communities and airspace users.

"3. OPERATING STANDARDS.

"a. Select an operating site that is of sufficient distance from populated
areas. The selected site should be away from noise sensitive areas such as
parks, schools, hospitals, churches, etc.

"b. Do not operate model aircraft in the presence of spectators until the
aircraft is successfully flight tested and proven airworthy.

"c. Do not fly model aircraft higher than 400 feet above the surface.
When flying aircraft within 3 miles of an airport, notify the airport operator,
or when an air traffic facility is located at the airport, notify the control
tower, or flight service station.

"d. Give right of way to, and avoid flying in the proximity of, full-scale
aircraft. Use observers to help if possible.

"e. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from any airport traffic control
concerning compliance with these standards."

RC aircraft have been grounded by the FAA at various times under
SFARS or NOTAMS for security purposes--during the Utah Olympics,
when a major politico is attending an outdoor event. etc.

I've been flying RC models for about 11 years:
http://moleski.net.

Marty

  #6  
Old June 22nd 06, 06:45 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 10:18:47 -0700, "Peter Duniho"
wrote in :

... I'm a bit surprised that there doesn't appear to be anything in the
FARs that at least provides an exception from the FARs for the operation of
radio-controlled models, but perhaps that's implied by some broader
exception I didn't notice.


I think the decision has been made administratively rather than
legislatively.

Here are the three links, in chronological order, from the longer post
I just made in this thread:

1981: http://www.eoss.org/faa/ac91-57.pdf

2003: http://www.ihsaviation.com/faa/N8700.25.pdf

2005: http://www.eoss.org/faa/AFS_400_UAS_POLICY_05_01.pdf

In other words, you won't find the exception spelled out in the FARS.

That said, it does seem to me that there's an obvious difference between
what is considered a UAV (as used by law enforcement, for example) and a
radio-controlled model. Even ignoring the usual difference in size and
flight altitude (which we may as well, since those are not absolutes even
for model airplanes), the primary difference is that radio-controlled models
are always flown in direct sight, under direct control of the operator.


Not always. An FAI record was set by Maynard Hill by an aircraft
that was piloted by RC for takeoff, then flown under internal
guidance across the Atlantic, and landed under RC control
in Ireland.

http://tam.plannet21.com/

The plane AND fuel weighed 5 kg (11 pounds) at takeoff.

It was designed, built, and tuned for the flight by Hill, who was
77 years old and legally blind at the time of the flight in
2003.

The flight last 38 hours, 52 minutes, 19 seconds.

It covered 1881.6 miles.

The engine was 10 cc (~0.61 ci), highly modified by
Hill.

In this respect, Cmdr. Sid Heal does seem to miss the point in thinking that
his law enforcement craft are somehow equivalent to radio-controlled model
airplanes.


Recreational aircraft should not be operated over a heavily-populated
area. To make a police UAV safe would require far more redundancy
than is ordinarily found in recreational RC models.

Marty
  #7  
Old June 22nd 06, 06:45 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

"Randy Aldous" wrote:
The Sheriff's Cmdr. apparently doesn't understand the
difference between the RC Models and a UAV.


Hmmm. If you read some of the useful links your provide (airspace2.doc
seems to have a nice summary) I think you'll find that "UAV" has various
meanings, some of which include RC models, and some of which don't. Is
there a definition of UAV that the FAA uses that is regulatory? My
fundamental question is what FAR(s) would the FAA cite and convince a judge
that the Sheriff was in violation of?

http://www.house.gov/transportation/...29-06memo.html

http://www.acq.osd.mil/uas/docs/airspace2.doc

http://www.politechbot.com/2006/03/2...llance-in-the/

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/archi.../t-358461.html


Great links; thanks. They seems to confirm my suspicion that the FAA is
sending confusing signals.
  #8  
Old June 22nd 06, 07:05 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 17:45:45 -0000, Jim Logajan wrote in
:

"Randy Aldous" wrote:
The Sheriff's Cmdr. apparently doesn't understand the
difference between the RC Models and a UAV.


Hmmm. If you read some of the useful links your provide (airspace2.doc
seems to have a nice summary) I think you'll find that "UAV" has various
meanings, some of which include RC models, and some of which don't. Is
there a definition of UAV that the FAA uses that is regulatory? My
fundamental question is what FAR(s) would the FAA cite and convince a judge
that the Sheriff was in violation of?


Far 1.1 Definitions:

"Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the
air."

"Operate, with respect to aircraft, means use, cause to use or authorize to use
aircraft, for the purpose (except as provided in Sec. 91.13 of this chapter) of
air navigation including the piloting of aircraft, with or without the right of
legal control (as owner, lessee, or otherwise)."

"Pilot in command means the person who:
(1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the
flight;
(2) Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and
(3) Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for
the conduct of the flight."

So the UAVs are aircraft operated by a PIC.

"The FAA has sole authority over the safe and efficient use of the NAS. The FAA
is responsible for overseeing the safety of the civil airspace, including
operations by the military, government, private pilots and commercial entities.
To this end, the FAA must take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of the
public, which includes the flying public, as well as people and property on the
ground."

Aviation Subcommittee hearing on UAVs
http://www.house.gov/transportation/aviation/03-29-06/03-29-06memo.html.

From the same hearings:

"Recreational Model Aircraft

"Appropriate oversight of model aircraft operations must be considered as the
FAA and interested parties develop standards and regulations for the use of UAVs
in the NAS. The term “model aircraft” is defined by the Academy of Model
Aeronautics (AMA) as a non-human-carrying device capable of sustained flight in
the atmosphere, not exceeding the limitations established in the Official AMA
National Model Aircraft Safety Code, exclusively for recreation, sport, and/or
competition activities. The AMA has been in existence since 1936, and is a
non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote the development of model
aviation as a recognized sport and worthwhile recreation activity. The AMA
coordinates with the FAA and self-polices the operation of model aircraft in AMA
sanctioned events. Some of the operational requirements for AMA sanctioned
activities include:

" * A maximum takeoff weight of a model aircraft, including fuel, is 55
pounds, except for those flown under the AMA Experimental Aircraft Rules;
* Operations shall not take place higher than approximately 400 feet above
ground level, when within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the
airport operator;
* Yielding the right-of-way and avoiding flying in the proximity of
full-scale aircraft and utilizing a spotter when appropriate;
* Operators of radio control model aircraft shall control the aircraft from
the ground and maintain un-enhanced visual contact with the aircraft throughout
the entire flight; and
* No model aircraft shall be equipped with devices that would allow for
autonomous flight.

"The AMA’s position is that model aircraft should not be included in the
standards and regulations for UAVs, and that in establishing the definition of
UAV, the focus should be on the purpose of the vehicle operation as opposed to
the size or ability of the vehicle."

This hearing apparently took place on March 29, 2006. It should be noted
that Dave Brown, president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, landed
the trans-atlantic model that flew for over 1800 miles autonomously.
http://tam.plannet21.com/

I think the AMA fears that allowing autonomous RC models will bring
the full weight of Homeland Security down on all of us ordinary
"VFR" RC pilots. (

Marty



  #9  
Old June 22nd 06, 08:31 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

See: http://www.modelaircraft.org/PDF-files/105.pdf for a non-legal definition.

FAA:
http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAdvisoryCircular.nsf/0/1acfc3f689769a56862569e70077c9cc/$FILE/ATTBJMAC/ac91-57.pdf




"Peter Duniho" wrote in message ...
"Randy Aldous" wrote in message ups.com...
So what are FARs cover R/C aircraft (is there a weight or size threshold)?
Also, what FARs would cover autonomous (robot controlled) aircraft?


A Google search, using "FAA radio-control aircraft" and "FAA UAV vs
model aircraft" as the criteria, came up with the following.... from
what I have read, the FAA has some legitimate concerns about UAV
operations, especially in busy airspace


IMHO, the FAA has a legitimate concern regarding UAV use *anywhere* within the US, busy airspace or not. They have
indicated as much in imposing TFRs for the purpose of operating UAVs along the southern border (even if that is a
less-than-satisfactory solution).

[...]
"A private citizen can go to the store and buy one of those model
airplanes and fly them around. But because we're doing it as a public
service, we have to deal with the FAA?" said Sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal."
- The Sheriff's Cmdr. apparently doesn't understand the difference
between the RC Models and a UAV.


Well, to be fair, even looking at the links you offered, it seems he's not alone. I'm a bit surprised that there
doesn't appear to be anything in the FARs that at least provides an exception from the FARs for the operation of
radio-controlled models, but perhaps that's implied by some broader exception I didn't notice.

That said, it does seem to me that there's an obvious difference between what is considered a UAV (as used by law
enforcement, for example) and a radio-controlled model. Even ignoring the usual difference in size and flight
altitude (which we may as well, since those are not absolutes even for model airplanes), the primary difference is
that radio-controlled models are always flown in direct sight, under direct control of the operator. And if they
weren't, I would say that would put them squarely into the UAV category, and subject to the same FAA oversight.

I do find it interesting that the rcgroups.com thread seems to be focusing somewhat on the commercial vs recreational
aspects:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/archi.../t-358461.html


While I wouldn't be completely surprised if the FAA chose that route to differentiation, I think it would make more
sense to focus on the size of the aircraft and degree of operator involvement. Of most concern is an operator who is
not in the immediate area, looking directly at the aircraft and the airspace around it.

In this respect, Cmdr. Sid Heal does seem to miss the point in thinking that his law enforcement craft are somehow
equivalent to radio-controlled model airplanes. But it would be nice if the written law were a bit more clear on the
matter, so that people who don't see these obvious differences can be referred to a document that gives them something
to consider.

Pete



  #10  
Old June 22nd 06, 10:04 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
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Posts: n/a
Default What FARs cover R/C drones?

On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 09:31:41 -0700, "Bob Gardner"
wrote in ::

According to this morning's paper, the FAA has shot down the LA Sherrif's
proposal. Never mind.


This is not going to go away. Better to get off on the right foot
from the start.
 




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