Tag Archive: FAA


Get Ready For Optimus Prime Shipping: FAA Approves Amazon Drone Experiments

 

 

 

 

 

” It seems like all that hype from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about using drones for deliveries wasn’t hype after all. The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that it has awarded an experimental airworthiness certificate for a drone design presented by Amazon Logistics, the online retailer’s in-house fulfillment and delivery company.

  The certificate amounts to a learner’s permit for drone operations. It allows Amazon to conduct flight operations under 400 feet altitude, during daylight hours, “in visual meteorological conditions,” the FAA announcement states. Additionally, the certificate requires that “the [unmanned aircraft] must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.”

  As with all of the experimental drone airworthiness certificates being issued by the FAA in advance of formal approval of unmanned aircraft, Amazon’s permission slip to fly comes with some oversight. Amazon will have to report monthly data to the FAA on how many flights it conducted, the amount of pilot time associated with each flight, and information on “unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links.”

  These conditions don’t exactly lend themselves to Amazon using drones very soon to help with the one-hour delivery to Amazon Prime customers the company announced recently. But they put Amazon in position to be among the very first commercial drone operators in the US once the FAA gives approval for full integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. “

 

Thanks to Sean Gallagher at ArsTechnica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos On YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

” If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.

  Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year. 

  The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes’s flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency. It said that if he did not stop flying “commercially,” he could be subject to fines or sanctions.

” This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence,” the letter reads. “After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.” “

  The hobby use of drones and other model aircraft has never been regulated by the FAA, but the agency has been adamant about making a distinction between hobby and commercial use, which has led to much confusion over the last couple years.

  Where, exactly, does commercial use begin and hobby use end, for instance? If you fly for fun, but happen to sell your footage later, were you flying for a “commercial purpose?” What if you give it to a news organization that runs it on a television station that has ads on it? What if you upload it to YouTube and Google happens to put an ad on it? What if you decide to put an ad on it?

  The letter makes clear that at least some in the FAA (this one was sent by Michael Singleton, an aviation safety inspector in the FAA’s Tampa office) take a very wide view of what is “commercial.” “

 

Read the rest at Motherboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft U.S. Rules On Commercial Drones Keep Some Limits On Use

 

 

 

 

 

” The U.S. aviation regulator proposed rules on Sunday for commercial drone flights that would lift some restrictions but would still bar activities such as the delivery of packages and inspection of pipelines that have been eyed by companies as a potentially breakthrough use of the technology.

  The long-awaited draft rules from the Federal Aviation Administration would require unmanned aircraft pilots to obtain special pilot certificates, stay away from bystanders and fly only during the day. They limit flying speed to 100 miles per hour (160 kph) and the altitude to 500 feet (152 meters) above ground level.

  The rules also say pilots must remain in the line of sight of its radio-control drone, which could limit inspection of pipelines, crops, and electrical towers that are one of the major uses envisioned by companies.

  Commercial drone operators would need to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. But they would not need to undergo the medical tests or flight hours required of manned aircraft pilots.”

 

Read on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why The US Government Is Terrified Of Hobbyist Drones

 

 

A Phantom 2 consumer drone is equipped with three pounds of mock explosive at a January 16 DHS conference.

Photo credit: Daniel Herbert

 

 

” If you want to understand why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS “summit” on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination.

  The conference was open to civilians, but explicitly closed to the press. One attendee described it as an eye-opener. The officials played videos of low-cost drones firing semi-automatic weapons, revealed that Syrian rebels are importing consumer-grade drones to launch attacks, and flashed photos from an exercise that pitted $5,000 worth of drones against a convoy of armored vehicles. (The drones won.) But the most striking visual aid was on an exhibit table outside the auditorium, where a buffet of low-cost drones had been converted into simulated flying bombs. One quadcopter, strapped to 3 pounds of inert explosive, was a DJI Phantom 2, a newer version of the very drone that would land at the White House the next week.

  Attendee Daniel Herbert snapped a photo and posted it to his website along with detailed notes from the conference. The day after the White House incident, he says, DHS phoned him and politely asked him to remove the entire post. He complied. “I’m not going to be the one to challenge Homeland Security and cause more contention,” says Herbert, who runs a small drone shop in Delaware called Skygear Solutions. “

 

Wired has the whole scoop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAA Grants Permits For Drones To Monitor Crops, Photograph Real Estate

 

 

 

 

 

” The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.

  The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, for “crop scouting,” and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.

  Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use its 1.5-pound, fixed-wing eBee drone to make photographic measurements of farm fields, determine the health of crops and look for pests. The aim is to save farmers time walking through fields. The drone also can carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye, which can help determine which fields need watering.”

 

 

    Will this latest licensing effort by the Feds morph into yet another example of cronyism and reward towards favored , connected corporations ? Of course . Notice that the film industry was one of the first to gain their exemption from the State .

 

CNS News has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teen ‘Lucky’ To Be Alive After Stowing Away On Calif.-Hawaii Flight

 

Stowaway

 

 

” A 16-year-old boy from California hopped a fence at the San Jose, Calif., Airport and sneaked into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jetliner, stowing away for a five-hour flight, FBI spokesman Tom Simon told ABC News.

  Simon said the boy, who had run away from home, passed out inside the unprotected, unpressurized wheel well after the flight was airborne. When the plane landed at Maui Airport at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the boy was still passed out, Simon said. He did not come to for about an hour.

  Ground crews later saw the boy walking around the tarmac, Simon said. He was taken into custody and checked by a doctor and found to have no injuries.

  News of the incident was met with suspicion and scrutiny. Most wheel-well stowaways don’t survive, falling victim to frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen. The chances of survival of a wheel-well stowaway on a commercial aircraft are about 24 percent, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.”

 

More here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Plane Lands On NY Highway

 

 

 

” A small plane traveling to Connecticut after taking a tour of the Statue of Liberty made an emergency landing Saturday on a New York City interstate highway, startling drivers but touching down safely with no serious injuries to anyone aboard or on the ground, officials said.

  The aircraft, a Piper PA-28, set down at around 3:20 p.m. on the northbound side of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx, in an area where the highway passes through Van Cortlandt Park.”

 

FAA Announces Locations For Future Drone Testing Sites

 

 

 

” Drones are coming to America – the Federal Aviation Administration announced on Monday the six states chosen to develop test sites for unmanned aerial vehicles.

    – University of Alaska: Will help develop standards for state monitoring and navigation, as well as safety.

    – State of Nevada: Will study standards and requirements for operators. It will also research exactly how air        traffic control procedures will change with the introduction of drones into the sky.

    – New York’s Griffiss International Airport: Will focus its research on how drones and commercial airplanes       will sense and avoid colliding with each other in congested airspace.

    – North Dakota Department of Commerce: Will develop “airworthiness” data as well as reliable links                     that share information between drones and other aircraft.

     – Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi: Will develop safety system requirements.

     – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Will test failure mode procedure and other risks should        a drone malfunction while in the air.”

 

Source: DC Clothesline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belite Achieves Maiden Flight Of Ultralight Floatplane

 

 

 

 

 

” The base aircraft, a design variation of Belite’s UltraCub aircraft, took off from a grass strip. (The expanded flight test plan will also fly from the water.) Part 103 limits the empty weight to 254 pounds, but ultralights with floats and a parachute system can be up to 338 pounds (254 pounds plus 60 pounds extra weight for floats and 24 extra pounds for a parachute system). The SeaLite’s empty weight comes in at about 335 pounds.

  Wing spars are carbon fiber, as are the floats and certain other key elements of the aircraft. The fuselage is constructed largely from aerospace aluminum. Each basic wing panel weighs only 20 pounds; each individual carbon fiber float also weighs about 20 pounds.

  The SeaLite is powered by the 50-hp Hirth S-23 turning a 2-blade wooden Tennessee propeller. The SeaLite also features a custom lightweight instrument panel with a full range of conventional instruments. First delivery is expected in early 2014.

  In amphibious (land/water) configuration, the new aircraft is priced at $60,000 fly away factory (FAF). In straight (water only) configuration, it is priced at $50,000 FAF. Other non-aquatic versions of Belite UltraCubs have starting prices less than $20,000. “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Aircraft Frightens Quincy Residents

 

 

 

 

” Every night for nearly the last two weeks, residents have spotted a low-flying aircraft doing loops over the city. WBZ has learned the FAA knows what’s going on, but the agency isn’t telling.

“I mean it is strange. I don’t know if they’re looking for somebody, I have no idea,” one resident told WBZ.

It’s not the state or local police doing the flying, and the FAA is giving out little information, even to city officials.

The aircraft doesn’t appear to be flying when it’s cloudy out, only taking to the skies on starlit nights.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Passes Bill To End Air Traffic Control Furloughs

 

 

 

” Without any debate, the Senate unanimously passed legislation giving the Department of Transportation flexibility to use unspent funds to cover the costs of air traffic controllers and other essential employees at the Federal Aviation Administration.

The House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the measure, could take it up on Friday, capping a feverish effort by Congress to end the flight delays that were snarling traffic at major U.S. airports and angering travelers.

Some Senate aides said the measure would also give the FAA flexibility to keep open nearly 150 “contract towers” at smaller airports that are staffed by non-FAA employees who help control takeoffs and landings.”

 

 

Illustration by Gary Varvel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democrats Looking To Retreat On FAA Furloughs

 

 

 

 

” Senate Democrats are beginning to realize that President Obama has dealt them a losing hand on Federal Aviation Administration furloughs linked to sequestration, and they are now trying to minimize the damage.

The entire purpose of sequestration was to inflict pain on the American people until they forced Republicans to raise taxes. But the reality is that the federal government is perfectly capable of reducing the growth of its spending, while still performing what few vital functions it actually performs. And the FAA is a great example.

President Obama requested $15.172 billion to run the FAA for 2013 and Congress initially gave him $16.668 billion. The sequester has since cut the FAA’s budget by $669 million, leaving the agency with $15.999 billion. That’s right: Even after the sequester “cuts,” the FAA actually has more money to spend this year than Obama originally asked for to begin with.”

 

 

 

 

 

FAA FURLOUGHS KICK IN, SOME FLIGHT DELAYS APPEAR

 

 

” Commercial airline flights started backing up and delayed some travelers Monday, a day after air traffic controllers started going on furlough because of government spending cuts.

Information from the FAA and others showed that flying Sunday was largely uneventful, with most flights on time. There were delays in parts of Florida, but those were caused by thunderstorms.

Mark Duell at the flight tracking website FlightAware said that John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York indicated delays due to lower staffing starting late Sunday evening. The FAA website said that flights from Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla., into John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Westchester County airports were delayed due to staffing issues.” 

 

 

  As you are waiting in line , perhaps as much as 4 hours , you can take solace in the fact that , as bad as the sequestration cuts are , our dear leader is still able to maintain the lifestyle to which he , Michelle and the girls have become accustomed to . Hope & Change in the flesh …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Drone Flew Within 200 Feet Of A Commercial Jet. How Legal Was It? [Updated]

 

 

 

 

” Yesterday morning, an Alitalia pilot reported seeing a remote-controlled aircraft near New York’s JFK airport, where he was landing. The drone was flying about 4 to 5 miles west of the airport at an altitude of about 1,750 feet, and it came within just 200 feet of the Alitalia plane, the pilot said. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, and the FBI announced that it is looking for information leading to the drone operator. But was it legal?

Domestic drones are not regulated.
Law is slow to catch up to new technology, so drones are not currently regulated in U.S. air space. The FAA is in the process of picking drone-testing sites, which will be used to help develop domestic drone rules. Until then, unmanned aircraft are governed by model airplane rules, and model airplane rules are pretty lax.

Older laws for model aircraft forbade flying anything above 400 feet. This is still a recognized guideline by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the lobbyist group that represents model aircraft hobbyists, but the height ceiling hasn’t been on the books since at least 2012. Instead, unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft have to be visible to the naked eye, which might mean just a couple hundred feet in cloudy weather or much further than the recommended 400 feet in good weather. (Visual range notwithstanding, 1,750 feet of altitude is well beyond the reach of most commercially available model aircraft.)

 

While the 2012 act re-authorizing the FAA removed the height ceiling for model aircraft, it was very clear about boundaries around an airport. Flying a drone within 5 miles of an airport requires notifying that airport; otherwise, you risk prosecution. Initial reports place the drone at 4 to 5 miles away from the airport, which means it isn’t clear whether this drone broke that rule or not. If the drone flew closer than that, and did so without notifying air traffic control, it would’ve been illegal.

The construction of the drone, however, is very likely to have been totally legal. Described as a 3-foot-wide black quadrotor it probably falls under existing construction guidelines. Model aircraft regulations let you fly anything under 55 pounds, and following AMA guidelines, everything, from absolute altitude to size to any sensors a drone might have on board, is legal.

Finally, there’s H. R. 658, SEC. 336, (a)4. This part of the 2012 FAA reauthorization states explicitly flying a model aircraft is legal only if “the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.” Flying within 200 feet of an airliner definitely, absolutely, in no uncertain terms violates that law, so let’s just say this is very illegal.

 

 

 

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Game of Drones

 

 

 

” True enough: as Stanford Law’s Ryan Calo notes, under current law, “citizens do not enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy in public, nor even on the portions of their property visible from a public vantage.”

That’s a problem. Drone technology dramatically enhances the government’s ability to monitor citizens in public places and on their own property — and privacy law hasn’t kept pace with technological change.

Law enforcement agencies already have access to some 146 commercial drones — and that may be just the beginning as drones get smaller and more capable.

Defense contractor AeroVironment is perfecting the “Nano Hummingbird,” a drone that weighs less than an AA battery and is capable of alighting on a window ledge to record video.”

 

 

FAA investigates report of drone spotted near NYC

” The pilot can be heard reporting the aircraft on radio calls captured by LiveATC.net, a website that posts air traffic communications.The pilot said, “We saw a drone, a drone aircraft.”The FAA says the pilot did not take evasive action and the plane landed safely.”

Poll: Americans Believe They Have Right To Shoot Down Government Spy Drones

 

 

” Now, in a Reason-Rupe national survey, sixty percent of respondents believe that, to some degree, the use of drones by local law enforcement to conduct surveillance without a warrant is an invasion of personal privacy.

That is some turnaround.

In addition, 47 percent of respondents to the latest poll said they believe they have a right to destroy a UAV if it flies over their house without their permission.”

 

A Drone? A Really Big Bird? A UFO? What Did Alitalia Pilot See Near JFK?

 

 

 

” The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a report from the pilot who claimed he saw an unmanned or remote-controlled aircraft while on his final approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport .

The pilot, who was at the controls of Alitalia Flight AZA 60, a Boeing 777, spotted what may have been a drone about four to five miles southeast of the airport at an altitude of 1,500 feet while on final approach to Runway 31 Right at about 1:15 p.m.”

 

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DHS Built Domestic Surveillance Tech Into Predator Drones

 

 

” Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s requirements for its drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it this week. CNET unearthed an unredacted copy of the requirements that provides additional information about the aircraft’s surveillance capabilities.

Concern about domestic use of drones is growing, with federal legislation introduced last month that would establish legal safeguards, in addition to parallel efforts underway from state and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that it will “address privacy-related data collection” by drones.

The prospect of identifying armed Americans concerns Second Amendment advocates, who say that technology billed as securing the United States’ land and maritime borders should not be used domestically. Michael Kostelnik, the Homeland Security official who created the program, told Congress that the drone fleet would be available to “respond to emergency missions across the country,” and a Predator drone was dispatched to the tiny town of Lakota, N.D., to aid local police in a dispute that began with reimbursement for feeding six cows. The defendant, arrested with the help of Predator surveillance, lost a preliminary bid to dismiss the charges.”

 

 

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Fighter Jet Chases Down Small Plane Near Obama’s Florida Resort

 

 

 

 

” A small plane was intercepted and escorted by a fighter jet to a Florida airport Saturday after violating temporary flight restrictions set up for President Obama’s visit, according to a military spokesman.

The Cessna 152 entered the restricted airspace near the resort where the president is staying in Palm City, according to Army Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys.”

 

 

” The military’s North American Aerospace Defense Command sent a F-16 fighter jet and a Coast Guard helicopter to intercept the plane, he said.

The F-16 flew with the plane until it landed at Witham Field in nearby Stuart. The plane was met by local officials and the U.S. Secret Service, and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.”

FAA Moves Closer To Widespread US Drone Flights With Plan For Test Sites

 

 

” A future in which unmanned drones are as common in U.S. skies as helicopters and airliners has moved a step closer to reality with a government request for proposals to create six drone test sites around the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration made the request Thursday, kicking off what is anticipated to be an intense competition between states hoping to win one of the sites.

The FAA also posted online a draft plan for protecting people’s privacy from the eyes in the sky. The plan would require each test site to follow federal and state laws and make a privacy policy publicly available.

Privacy advocates worry that a proliferation of drones will lead to a “surveillance society” in which the movements of Americans are routinely monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities.”

 

 

 

 

FAA Releases New Drone List—Is Your Town On The Map?

 

 

Click On The Map For Larger Scale Interactive Site

 

” The Federal Aviation Administration has finally released a new drone authorization list. This list, released in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, includes law enforcement agencies and universities across the country, and—for the first time—an Indian tribal agency. In all, the list includes more than 20 new entities over the FAA’s original list, bringing to 81 the total number of public entities that have applied for FAA drone authorizations through October 2012.

 

The State Department

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Barona Band of Mission Indians Risk Management Office (near San Diego, California)

Canyon County Sheriff’s Office (Idaho)

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Northwest Oregon)

Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department (North Dakota)

King County Sheriff’s Office (covering Seattle, Washington)

 

And several new entities in Ohio, including:

Medina County Sheriff’s Office

Ohio Department of Transportation

Sinclair Community College

Lorain County Community College

 

The list comes amid extensive controversy over a newly-released memo documenting the CIA’s policy on the targeted killing of American citizens and on the heels of news that Charlottesville, Virginia has just become one of the first cities in the country to ban drones. This new list should contribute to the debate over whether using domestic drones for surveillance is consistent with the Constitution and with American values.”

 

 

Related Stories From EFF …

 

Our Tax Dollars Screwing US

“Senior FAA officials accused of telling workers ‘job security’ at risk if GOP wins”

  It’s gotten so we can’t have any faith in government institutions at all . Never in our lifetimes have the federal agencies been so politicized . We need change . The entrenched government worker mentality will be the ruin of this country .

 

  “Two federal agency supervisors allegedly warned employees earlier this year that a Republican takeover in Washington could threaten their jobs — comments that some workers apparently took as guidance on “how to vote” and that one group claims may have violated federal law. 

Nonprofit watchdog Cause of Action wrote a letter Wednesday asking the Department of Transportation’s inspector general to launch a probe into the incident, involving senior officials with the Federal Aviation Administration. The incident occurred in May during a meeting at the FAA’s Seattle office, according to the letter. 

Emails obtained by FoxNews.com show one FAA employee recalling what John Hickey, deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, said at the meeting. “