FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Darrell Abby carefully wipes down the fuselage of his Curtiss P-40 Warhawk for its first flight of the day.
He checks the flaps, wiggles the rudder, pumps in gas and monitors the air pressure for the landing gear. Then he pulls on a gray heavy work glove before spinning the propeller to start the engine.
While Abby's warbird has a wingspan of 86 inches — the real deal is 37 feet — the pre-flight checks he performs mimic those taken by a pilot before crawling into a cockpit.
"We're very big on safety," said Abby, a 66-year-old retired Delta Air Lines pilot at a recent "fly-in" of model aircraft buffs in Fort Worth. "In my opinion, these things are like a real airplane."
So it should come as no surprise that Abby and other hobbyists are in a four-foot hover over the Federal Aviation Administration's recent efforts to clarify its rules for flying model aircraft in the wake of recent incidents involving small remote-controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.
Published in the Federal Register late last month, the FAA proposal restates some of the agency's established rules for model aircraft and tries to shed new light on others with the stated purpose of protecting the public both in the air and on the ground.
"We want people who fly model aircraft for recreation to enjoy their hobby — but to enjoy it safely," federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last month.
But opponents to the FAA's recent attempt at rule-making say that what the agency is doing flies in the face of a law Congress passed in 2012 to protect the model plane community from "overreaching and onerous regulation" by the federal government.
Comparing it to the ongoing debate over gun control laws, Abby and others say a few bad actors are causing trouble for the vast majority of model aircraft owners who operate their miniature bombers, fighters, helicopters and blimps responsibly and safely.
"The FAA is trying to take part or all of our hobby away on a knee-jerk reaction to a specific problem that they will never be able to control," said Ed Couch, who has been involved in aeromodeling for 62 years. "It's the individual, not the vehicle, that is causing the problem."
The FAA says it published the new 17-page interpretation of its rules after receiving multiple inquiries regarding its enforcement authority over model aircraft. There have also been several high-profile incidents involving unmanned aircraft in the past year.
In March, a U.S. Airways jet flying from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tallahassee, Florida, nearly collided with a remote-controlled aircraft. The airline pilot described the aircraft as a camouflaged F-4 Phantom jet.
Last month, the owner of a remote-controlled quad copter was flying — in apparent violation of FAA airspace regulations — over downtown Dallas and Arlington. He eventually lost control of the aircraft while flying over the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium and it crashed onto the roof.
But observers say the FAA's urge to restate the rules can really be traced to a ruling in March by an administrative law judge that dismissed a $10,000 fine against Raphael Pirker, a businessman who in 2011 used a remote-controlled foam glider to take video for the University of Virginia Medical Center. The FAA said Pirker's actions were reckless and is appealing the decision.
Despite complaints from the modeling community, the agency says it's simply trying to clear up ambiguities in its existing regulations.
The agency says the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 prohibits it from putting into force any regulation regarding model aircraft if it meets several criteria.
But the law does not prevent the FAA from any future rule-making that may affect model aircraft, such as the use of airspace for safety or security reasons, the interpretation states. The clarification was published June 25 and comments can be submitted for 30 days.
"What we were doing was clarifying the FAA's authority under existing legislation," Les Dorr, a spokesman for the agency, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1kdRqWr ).
The FAA also restates that flying for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited and it gives examples of what is OK. Taking photos from a drone for fun is OK; a real estate company doing so for a property listing, not so much. Viewing crops grown for personal enjoyment to see if they need watering, go right ahead. But if those crops are part of a farming operation, no can do.
"We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground and the public expects us to carry out that mission," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.
At the field in east Fort Worth, Abby and other members of the Greater Southwest Aero Modelers were celebrating the Fourth of July with a cookout and a fly-in.
Parked along the main runway are several large-scale models, some of them "scratch built," others from "almost ready to fly" kits. Besides Abby's P-40 Warhawk, there is a Messerschmitt Bf 109, a Vought F4 Corsair and a North American P-51 Mustang.
Club members carefully fly their planes, keeping them in sight at all times, often with a second person standing next to them acting as a spotter.
In flight, some of the smaller engines have the high-pitched whine of lawn edgers, while the grumbling from the bigger airplanes — which can fly up to 120 mph — resembles chainsaws.
But the biggest buzz at the annual event is the fear that the FAA's "clarifications" may ground them.
Tim Lovett, a retired Hurst police officer and president of the club, is afraid that what the FAA is doing is a "gateway" to more stringent and unnecessary regulation.
"It makes me wonder what the next step is," Lovett said. "When we are at a field like this, we don't interface with full-scale aircraft. We are a model aircraft hobbyist organization, so we don't and shouldn't come under the auspices of FAA control.
"Anytime model aircraft interfaces with a full-scale airport control areas then I've got no problem with the FAA being involved, they need to be for all of our safety. But outside of that no. I don't see it," he said.,
The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a community-based membership organization that has existed since 1936 and has more than 165,000 members nationwide, also issued a statement saying it is "extremely disappointed and troubled by the approach the FAA has chosen."
The Muncie, Indiana-based group said the FAA frankly is ignoring the intent of the 2012 law passed by Congress to exempt their activities from regulation if it is conducted safely.
"The people writing these rules are by and large people who don't have experience with or a background in this industry," said Rich Hanson, a spokesman for the AMA. "They would shackle the one organization that is operating safely and responsibly."
Brian Huff, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who is conducting cutting-edge research in drones, said the FAA's clarification is one of the largest rule changes he's seen.
"To me the criteria should be if it is being operated in a safe and appropriate manner rather than if it is being used for sport and recreation," Huff said. "People who want to put these (drones) to good use, that will slow them down."
Couch, owner of Over the Top, a company that flies small blimps in the American Airlines Center and AT&T Stadium, said he wants the freedom to enjoy his hobby and grow his business.
"Whether I'm flying a 30-foot airship for the Dallas Cowboys or a 13-inch model, it makes me no difference, it's part of my roots," said Couch, a retired engineer and technician at Vought and Lockheed. "We are not geeks, crazies or someone lurking in the background bound on taking the government down. As a group, we love aviation in all its glory."
By MAX B. BAKER, Fort Worth Star
This story has been updated to clarify that House Bill 2710 does not apply to model aircraft.
A Southeast Portland resident recently purchased a drone for spying on Union Pacific and local developers.
The news raised legal questions for readers, so we did a little extra research. First, some background on the situation:
Robert McCullough, an energy economist and president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, jokingly sporting vintage flight goggles and a leather helmet for flight practice with his new drone.
Melissa Binder/The Oregonian
Robert McCullough is president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association. He purchased a 2.6-pound flying camera (and christened it "Flying Monkey 1") several weeks ago, with the intent of capturing video of activity at the Brooklyn rail yard and neighborhood development projects.
He has no intention to spy on residents, he said.
McCullough intended to donate the drone to the neighborhood association, but said Wednesday he's leaning against it because he's heard from a couple of concerned neighbors.
His only plans to only fly the drone above public right-of-ways to avoid legal trouble.
But it turns out drone regulation is pretty tricky.
Does McCullough need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the drone?
Yes, which was news to McCullough. The administration's online FAQ says commercial or business use requires certification and recreational use does not, implying those are the only options. But FAA officials confirmed this week that commercial use is just one example of a non-recreational purpose and that all drone use that isn't just for fun requires federal permission.
Gathering information about Union Pacific or a developer's activities for use in negotiations or litigation isn't purely recreational, according to FAA officials, so McCullough must attain a Certificate of Operating Agreement before using the drone for any surveillance.
So far he's only flown Flying Monkey 1 for practice.
(Note: The first FAA stamp of approval for flying a commercial drone over U.S. soil went to BP earlier this month.)
So, I can fly a drone just for fun without FAA approval?
Yep. But if you want to use that drone for any purpose other than recreation (even something seemingly innocent, such as academic study) you might want to talk to the FAA first. McCullough -- who testified before Congress as an expert witness against Enron Corp. in 2002 -- thought his plans qualified as recreational.
Didn't the Oregon legislature pass a law regarding drone use last year?
Yes. House Bill 2710 limits when a law enforcement agency can and cannot use a drone or disclose information acquired with a drone. The bill also sets parameters for the use of drones by public bodies and lays out a few ground rules for general use. Those rules are:
It's a class A felony to intentionally fire a projectile or shine a laser at an airborne aircraft (or crash into it) with your drone.
Interfering with a drone licensed by the FAA or operated by the military is a class C felony.
You can sue anyone who flies a drone less than 400 feet above your property if they've done it before and you told them not to do it again (unless the drone is taking off or landing in the lawful path for an airport).
HB 2710 doesn't apply to model aircraft, as defined by the FAA. The administration defines model aircraft as a device that's capable of sustained flight used solely for hobby or recreation purposes and stays within the the operator's sight.
Is a neighborhood association a public body?
That answer is a little muddy.
If McCullough does not donate the drone to the neighborhood association and operates it himself, he's likely only accountable to the rules that apply to the general public (such as not shooting airplanes). However, if the neighborhood association uses the drone for surveillance, the part of the Oregon law pertaining to public bodies could conceivably apply.
Neighborhood associations probably aren't public bodies, but it would be up to a court to decide. State law says entities created by local government are a part of local government. Portland created the Office of Neighborhood Involvement to facilitate the neighborhood system and recognize neighborhood associations, but neighbors technically create the associations.
Here's what the state law says about public bodies:
Public bodies must register drones with the Oregon Department of Aviation before flying the aircraft and provide an annual report on the frequency and purpose of the aircraft's use.
Public bodies cannot operate a weaponized drone.
Any image or information gathered by a public body with a drone that isn't approved by the FAA can't be used in a judicial, administrative, arbitration or other adjudicatory proceeding. It also can't be used to establish probable cause or reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed.
Is my privacy protected from drones?
Sort of. HB 2710 allows you to sue anyone who flies a drone over your private property at a height of less than 400 feet -- if they've done it before and you've notified them of your distaste.
But the bill doesn't apply to model aircraft, so if the operator can see the drone and it's only being used for hobby or recreational purposes, you're out of luck.
Still have questions? Post in the comments section or email me.
-- Melissa Binder
Two pilots with 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade listen to instructions on a UH-60M Black Hawk simulator given by a training contractor May 28 on Hunter Army Airfield.
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – Army Black Hawk pilots with 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade have been undergoing instruction on the new M Model UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter—which nine Army Aviation CABs have already received—over the past several weeks on Hunter Army Airfield.
The new digital platform replaces an older analog control system. Gauges and dials have been replaced by four large digital screens, or multi-functional displays. The Black Hawk M Models also have advancements that allow the aircraft to automatically adjust speed in flight to arrive at a location at a time specified by the pilot.
Rotor brakes, changes in rotor blades, and exhaust orientation will be the biggest changes the pilots will face, along with adjustments in cockpit management.
Army Lt. Col. Bradley Bruce, product manager for UH-60M Black Hawk, arrived to 3rd CAB from Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He says that the fielding of aircraft in an aviation brigade is similar to the block of instruction a pilot would receive in pilot training at Fort Rucker.
“The advantage to the CAB is based on the multiple deployments we have been through; it allows the CAB to get their UH-60M qualification at their home station. They get to go home to their Families. They also get to train on their own unit’s aircraft and airspace,” said Bruce.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dennis Snyder, a standardization pilot with Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment is excited about the upgrades to the aircraft.
“You have the computers working for you,” said Snyder. “It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.”
Snyder said he was initially worried about the system being digital, but said there are backup systems that are engaged should there be a failure. He adds the instructors conducting the training did a great job presenting the material in methodical demonstration.
Bruce said the contractors conducting the training are Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and Instructor Pilots who first fielded the M Model and have since gotten out of the Army to work for contracting, or retired and are now supporting the government.
One of the pilots going through training was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Griffie, Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. She said learning to fly the aircraft was relearning the aircraft and that for many pilots, who are set in their ways of the analog aircraft, it was not without transition.
“There’s so much new stuff in this aircraft; it’s all digital. It’s like learning a new aircraft, it really is,” said Griffie.
Story by Sgt. William Begley
The A-10's official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, a fighter that was particularly effective at close air support. However, the A-10 is more commonly known by its nickname "Warthog" or simply "Hog". As a secondary mission, it provides airborne forward air control, guiding other aircraft against ground targets. A-10s used primarily in this role are designated OA-10. Our troops would be at a serious disadvantage without the close air support provided by this aircraft model.
Larry Malvin, a North Shore real estate photographer who uses a remotely-controlled model-aircraft drone to photograph houses, on May 27 received an email from a Federal Aviation Administration official that, in essence, told him that what he's doing is prohibited.
“There is no method at this time for a business or company to fly UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) in the NAS (national airspace system),” read the email from Mark Foisy, an aviation safety inspector in the FAA's flight standards division and the unmanned aircraft specialist for the Great Lakes Region.
Mr. Malvin was featured in a recent Crain's article.
Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman in the FAA's Des Plaines office, said the email to Mr. Malvin was “informational” and carried no threat of penalties. “We're concerned about public safety and the careless or reckless operation” of drones, Ms. Cory said. She declined to make the safety inspector available for an interview.
The email explained that AC 91-57, a federal guideline that allows use of drones by "modelers" or hobbyists, “specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes.”
Ms. Cory said the email did not imply threat of enforcement but was “meant to keep (Mr. Malvin) aware of safety concerns.” She declined to say how many other businesses may have received emails similar to the one Mr. Malvin received. Mr. Malvin is believed to be the first Chicago-area photographer to use drones in his business.
Peter Sachs, a Connecticut lawyer who has taken up the cause of remote-controlled model aircraft drones, claimed in a December 2013 article on his website, Drone Law Journal, that the FAA has no authority over their use. “There is not a single statute that is currently enforceable at the federal level,” Mr. Sachs said in an interview.
Mr. Malvin declined to comment other than to say, “Whatever the FAA regulates, I'm willing to follow.” I would be uncomfortable with a drone flying over my house but apparently there are no regulations that apply.
I am sure this applies to all model aircraft that can be remotely operated. Technology is changing so fast that laws can’t get through the government quick enough. See our thread on EE times Great story, who owns my airspace. Also a great story. A Near Miss Between an Airplane and an Aircraft Model Check out all the comments and please leave a comment!
Presuming you’ve read the headline, you’re probably thinking I was sniffing model airplane glue when I came up with the idea for this post. Well, maybe I was, and that’s none of your business, but there is evidence, to back up this crazy claim thanks to golden artifacts left behind by the Quimbaya Civilization circa 1000 CE.
The Quimbaya prospered in along the Cuaca River in what is now Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda, Colombia, beginning some time around the 6th and 7th centuries. Among their claims to fame in the history books is their impressive artistic talents using the medium of a gold and copper alloy called tumbaga.
While numerous artifacts have been recovered from the Quimbaya civilization, there are a few specific pieces that stand out. Those few pieces bear a striking resemblance to modern airplanes, which is probably why they are commonly referred to as the Quimbaya Airplanes — if you can imagine that.
The airplanes are small, perhaps the size of the average ornament on a Christmas tree, if you’re into that kind of thing, but many believe the design contains aerodynamic properties conducive to actual flight.
The artifacts are often cited by ancient astronauts proponents as evidence supporting their beliefs. It’s not a bad artifact to cite when trying to prove that argument either.
In the 1990s a scale replica of a Quimbaya airplane was built to the size of the average radio controlled airplane, equipped with an engine, and then flown without difficulty.
I believe this video should earn this post bonus points because it includes some commentary by Giorgio A. Tsoukalos of the History Channel’s show Ancient Aliens.
Of course, most mainstream history and science people say this is all just wishful thinking on the part of ancient astronaut theorists, because there is no way people had the knowledge or technology to construct viable aircraft more than 1000 years ago. The gold airplane is more than likely an homage to an insect, bird, or even just creative expression that happens to look like an aircraft.
Watching the modern, engine-powered model fly, given a few slight modifications, is impressive though. It’s design did allow it get off the ground, and stay there, which is something that isn’t easy to do. Modern civilization has only been doing that consistently for about 100 years.
So if the Quimbaya civilization made aerodynamically sound model airplanes some time between the 6th and 10th century, they had to have been the first to do something like this right?
In the era just before the Quimbaya Civilization the Peruvian Nazcan culture created the Nazcan Lines, drawings of birds, lizards, and other animals so large, they are best viewed from the air.
The desert drawings are so large and intricate, some believe they couldn’t have been created without some kind of assistance from an aerial view. Although there are those who say the full drawings can be viewed from a specific location atop some nearby hills. Whether air-help was needed to make them or not, why go to all the trouble of making drawings in the sand if not to be seen by somebody?
There are several theories about this, including reasons of astronomy and religion, but there is evidence going even further back of possible manned flight.
In the Egyptian Temple of Seti I, built some time around 1280 BCE, there are hieroglyphs depicting what appears to be a helicopter, and this just in, helicopters fly. There are also other objects in the drawings resembling flying objects one might see in a Jetsons cartoon.
Then there is the story of Mauryan Emperor Asoka the Great, who allegedly created a secret order of Nine Unknown Men to guard the technological secrets known to the Mauryans to prevent enemies from acquiring their power. Among the technology the Nine Unknown Men were ordered to protect was flight and space travel. This one has been chalked up as myth by most, but who knows what truth existed at one point to be perpetuated and exaggerated into the modern myth?
There is of course another explanation for the existence of the Quimbaya Airplanes. Some theorize the design could be modeled after an aircraft which was seen in the sky, or possibly even visited them from another planet.
The Quimbaya Civilization mysteriously vanished some time around the 10th century. The common theory is they splintered into smaller groups and scattered throughout South America forming new cultures, independent of the each other in both religion and politics.
When you look at the Quimbaya legacy, specifically the airplanes, you have to wonder whether the civilization’s disappearance can be attributed to them being the first group to all lace up their sneakers and zoom out to the heavens to catch a ride on the Hale-Bopp Comet, or other celestial body that happened by one day.
One thing is certain, Quimbaya artists put together some nice pieces that are far better than anything I’ve ever done. Their model airplanes, or bugs, or whatever, don’t have crooked pieces, scrunched up decals, or dried glue coating all the little parts making up the intricate detail like mine always do. So if nothing else, they deserve credit for that.
Our newest project, five custom built Aircraft models with a new twist. Their being built to light up a pool room in a hanger!
Look for completed pictures on the site in the next few weeks. Below see a sneak peek!
We have been working hard on detailing these models to the T. They are all being painted and will be crated up and shipped off to a special customer in the next few weeks. All of the landing lights, running lights, cockpit lighting and an extra row of under lighting will add some light to the room.
More details to come but we just wanted to share a sneak peek with our readers.
Don't forget we can build custom display models for museums, airports, aviation displays, flight simulators and movie props. We recently finished a movie for Angelina Jolie and have allot of extra props from the movie for sale!
Happy holidays to all, God Bless!
Bob Winfrey & Dee Dee Winfrey
Custom built LED Lit
Very cool touch on this plane model, a highly detailed cockpit
Crystal Clear Canopy on this Aircraft
Filed under: New airplane model blog
Look at the detail!
by Bob Winfrey
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LANCASTER — Don’t be surprised to see some low flying aircraft buzzing around the fairgrounds Saturday morning.
That’s when the 39th annual FORKS remote control model show and swap shop is set to take place at 8:30 a.m. at the AAA building on the Fairfield County Fairgrounds, 157 W. Fair Ave.
Tony Scott, one of the event’s organizers and member of the Fairfield Ohio Radio Kontrol Society (FORKS), said this year will be special, because the club will feature World War I airplanes in honor of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the “war to end all wars.”
The war started when on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austria-Hungary’s throne, and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip while the couple were visiting Sarajevo. Within months all of Europe was embroiled in war and airplanes played a significant role in the fighting.
“We thought with the anniversary, it would make sense to feature WWI model aircraft in the show,” Scott said.
But it is not going to be limited to them; after all, this is also a swap meet.
“You’ll be able to see all kinds of new model airplanes on display, ranging from little trainers to giant gas-powered aircraft,” said Darlene Scott, Tony’s wife and another of the event organizers. “You can buy or sell just about anything in the hobby, including remote-controlled cars and boats.”
Tony said the swap meet is a great way for new people interested in the hobby to check out different models and remote-controlled types of aircraft and vehicles.
“One of the things that scare people from the hobby is the cost of some of the new equipment,” Tony Scott said. “But here you can get some decent used equipment at really reasonable prices to start out with. That way you can see if you like it.”
The annual event normally brings in about 70 vendors from across the state. Attendees also will get the chance to watch computer-simulated plane demonstrations and see the latest in remote-controlled model technology.
Many of the people who are involved in the Fairfield Ohio Radio Kontrol Society have an interest in aviation or are pilots. Many members of the local club will attend the event to explain the various models and provide advice and tips about how to get started in the hobby.
The organization started in 1965 and generally brings in people who are interested in aviation or boating and begin with remote-controlled vehicles.
“Right now we have about 80 active members, with five still with us who helped start the club in 1965,” Tony said.
Trophies for best in show will be awarded in classes for giant, sport, scale, boats, helicopters and surface vehicles. Trophies will be awarded to the top three in each class.
Food, which includes brats, coney dogs, sloppy joes, and dessert, along with door prizes also will be available.
In addition to the annual event, the club sponsors The Air Venture in July and races and fun flies throughout the year, including the giant big bird fly-in every June. Attendees there can see giant scale model airplanes fly, Scott said.
For more information about the club or its events throughout the year, visit its website at www.flying-forks.com.
“If you’re interested at all in remote controlled vehicles, aircraft, or boats, this is a great way to see what it is all about,” Tony Scott said. “It’s a great way to spend Saturday morning.”
Alot of Aircraft models in the house!
WASHINGTON TWP. Carol Penn, widow of World War II Marine aviator John “Jack” Penn, presented Washington Township American Veterans Post 1776 with one of her late husband’s collection of World War II military aircraft models.
The model is included in the Post 1776 “Flying Squad Living History” program to honor the service of men and women “in war and in peace.”
Mr. Penn, who was a civilian pilot before enlisting in the Marines at age 17, served in the Pacific Theater of Operations from November 1943 to July 1946 as a “non-commissioned” (Sergeant) pilot.
“This is an incredible collection of memorabilia and artifacts that will engage both students and adults in learning about the heroism and dedication of all who Serve this great Nation. We thank Mrs. Penn and we hope to honor the memory of her husband in making good use of his collection,” said Forrest “Woody” Burgener of Post 1776 and also a member of the West Point Chapter of the “Company of Military Historians.”
Mr. Penn was an avid photographer as well as an accomplished pilot. He was able, as the first aviator to walk through the city of Nagasaki, Japan, shortly after the second atomic bomb leveled the city, to photograph the destruction that ended World War II, a statement said.
He continued as an active flyer throughout his life and was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame in 1998. Among Penn’s many honors was the award of the “Knight of the Order of St. Michael” by the Army Aviation Association of America in 2013. Penn was also the honorary chairman of the New Jersey Aviation Association.
Mr. Penn was a former Assemblyman representing the 16th District and a former Somerset County Republican chairman.
The Penns lived in Bedminster. Mr. Penn died last year.
The Federal Aviation Administration wants to debunk some misconceptions about FAA regulations regarding unmanned aircraft as it works to come up with a plan for their use in the United States.
The FAA posted an article on its website, “Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft,” detailing what it called common myths and corresponding facts.
The FAA estimates that by 2018, about 7,500 small commercial unmanned aerial systems could be in use, assuming the federal government develops and implements rules for their use.
In 2012, Congress passed a law tasking the FAA with developing a plan for “safe integration” of unmanned aerial systems by Sept. 30, 2015. That integration will be made incrementally.
The FAA expects to publish a proposed rule for small unmanned aerial systems – those weighing less than 55 pounds – later this year. The rule likely will include provisions for commercial operations.
One myth regarding use of such systems is that the FAA does not control airspace below 400 feet, the FAA said.
In fact, the agency is responsible for the safety of U.S. airspace from the ground up. The misconception may have come because manned aircraft in general must stay at least 500 feet above the ground, it said.
Others believe that commercial unmanned aircraft flights are OK if they are over private property and under 400 feet.
But the FAA, in a notice published in 2007, said that an unmanned aerial system may not be flown for commercial purposes by claiming it’s operated according to the Model Aircraft guidelines, which state the model aircraft must be flown below 400 feet, be three miles from an airport and be away from populated areas. Commercial operations are authorized on a case-by-case basis, the FAA said.
Commercial flights require a certified airplane, a licensed pilot and operating approval. To date, only two UAS models, the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma, have been certified, and they can fly only in the Arctic.
A third myth is that commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations. Not true, the FAA said.
“There are no shades of gray,” the FAA said. Anyone wanting to fly an aircraft, manned or unmanned, in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval, it said.
Private-sector users can obtain an experimental-airworthiness certificate to conduct research and development, training and flight demonstrations.
Commercial operations are limited and require the operator to have a certified aircraft and pilot and operating approval. Federal, state and local governments and public universities may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.
Flying a model aircraft for hobby or recreation doesn’t require FAA approval. But hobbyists must operate according to the FAA’s model aircraft guides, which prohibit operations in populated areas.