Fed court overturns FAA registration for drones and model aircraft.

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crossfire

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Its a great day for another hobby.
 

ksaves2

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That is fantastic. I used to get sailplanes with 10 foot wingspans up above 500 feet ground level. I know this was more for the drone people but I thought this licensing/registration thing was completely bogus.

Ok, so someone is flying a 100lb drone O.K., there should be some regulation but for the hobbyists, they should get a free pass. Kurt
 

modeltrains

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I'm looking at that,
But on September 9, 2015, the FAA published its revisions in the Federal Register.
See 80 Fed. Reg. 54,367.
And Congress has determined that publication in the Federal Register “is sufficient to give notice of the contents of the document.”
And thinking who is going to think to look in the Federal Register every morning to see if any new regulations apply to them?
Who with anything even remotely resembling having a life is even going to have the time to if they did happen to have that wild hare thought?
For example, from just today the 19th,
Current Issue

150 documents from 47 agencies (259 Pages)

128 Notices
12 Proposed Rules
10 Rules
3 Significant Documents

Public Inspection

Special Filing
updated on 04:45 PM, on Friday, May 19, 2017
15 documents from 14 agencies
9 Notices
6 Rules

Regular Filing
updated on 08:45 AM, on Friday, May 19, 2017
https://www.federalregister.gov/
 

Donaldsrockets

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This is great news. I removed my FAA number from my Blade 300 CFX earlier. It was the only aircraft I have that was over the 250 gram limit.

However, I think we'll hear from the FAA again at some point. I don't see them going quietly into the night.:wink:
 

cerving

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It was overturned on the basis of a 2012 regulation that prohibited the FAA from enacting additional model aircraft regulations. That doesn't mean that Congress can't go ahead and pass some laws on their own... and I think they should. Once some jet comes down because it sucks a drone into one of its engines and kills 200 people, then there's going to be a huge outcry... best to nip this is the bud now before the lawyers get involved. Lock drones to a 400' ceiling, unless you pay for a commercial license and enter some kind of unlock code. Registration was a cheap, easy first step, and it puts some level of responsibility upon the drone operator. That's why all the drone makers were in favor of it... the alternative is that THEY will have to do something, and THEY will end up paying for those lawyers.
 

caveduck

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A slightly interesting case from a legal standpoint, but the appellate court is correct in ruling that the FAA lacked legal authority to make such regulations because it had been specifically prohibited by Congress. Legislation trumps regulations, so I think it is pretty doubtful that the FAA regs will get reinstated on appeal. The only basis for appeal that I can see would involve the FAA arguing that drones somehow do not fall under the definition of a "model aircraft". However, that seems very doubtful; even the FAA (see https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/ admits that the definitions of "model aircraft" is quite broad: 1) capable of sustained atmospheric flight; (2) flown within visual range of the operator; (3) flown for recreational purposes. Interestingly, this definition from the FAA website does *not* agree in detail with the actual legislative definition in the 2012 act, though they are not too different (the legislative definition does not mention "sustained atmospheric flight" but does impose a 55lb weight limit). Under either definition, I believe the FAA has no winning case on appeal. Notably, there is no altitude limit in the legislative definition of model aircraft; that was the FAA's idea.

Re hazards, jet engines are designed to withstand ingestion of birds the size and weight of geese. In a multi-engine jet airplane, the odds of a single hobby drone sized object causing a crash are not very high since the aircraft are designed to be able to land with only one engine running.

And as for the FAA getting new legislative authority over hobby drones, I think the near absolute ban on publishing any regulation about hobby aircraft under 55 lb (see HR 658--67 S 336 here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Sec_331_336_UAS.pdf) in the 2012 legislation would trigger a serious response from various parties if there was a congressional attempt to alter it in any significant way.
 

RocketT.Coyote

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My CAP squadron, among others, had to register the Calypso RC electric-powered glider which arrived as part of a STEM kit. It has yet to leave the ground under it's own power.
 

ttabbal

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This has been hashed out on RCGroups.com, but a couple highlights...

A ceiling does no good unless you have a hard floor for manned craft. They aren't really supposed to be that low, but they do it all the time. The only way an attitude limit on models helps is separation. If manned craft are below that, it's worthless. And if you want to see people pitch a fit, suggest a technical limiter to keep them up in addition to keeping us low.

The idea of a passenger liner crashing over a model is pretty far fetched. But hey, do some testing and lets quantify it. So long as methods and raw data are openly available for outside analysis. If only there were a group with funding for increasing aviation safety...... Oh, they are busy making illegal power grabs...

Ok, that might have been below the belt, but it's not wrong...

The one proven impact between an R/C plane and a manned plane was a giant scale, gas powered R/C vs a biplane. The manned plane landed safely.

For safety, I think a program like HPR waivers for higher altitudes, larger craft (maybe) and long range FPV has merit. Again, keep the models and the manned craft separate.

Frankly, a lot of R/C hobby users would be willing to work with FAA if they were doing anything remotely sensible. Instead they think we're wanting to drop butter on people... :D
 

caveduck

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Decent data exists with regard to bird hits. https://www.int-birdstrike.org/Warsaw_Papers/IBSC26 WPSA1.pdf is a 2002 survey paper that looked at fatal bird-induced aviation accidents over the entire history of aviation from 1912 (when the first recorded fatality occurred due to a gull getting stuck in the control cables of a Wright Flyer) through 1995. In that period the authors reported 42 total accidents resulting in 231 deaths over 84 years (actually 93 years but the first decade of powered flight was apparently fatality-free with regard to bird strikes). The authors also state that 43% of accidents are due to flocks of gulls, rather than single birds. Only *one* fatal accident since inception involved a jet powered airliner. Overall this offers no support for the idea that drones are likely to cause a major aviation disaster.
 

Banzai88

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Less government is almost always a good thing.
 

ttabbal

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To be fair, not many birds are made from aluminum and carbon fiber composites.. But if they want to claim that the average size R/C device has enough material to cause a problem, I think it's reasonable to want them to prove it..
 

georgegassaway

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A year ago, a British Airways passenger jet hit a drone on landing apporach at Heathrow:

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/british-airways-plane-drone-crash-7781520

WORLDWIDE NEWS!

Except for the teeny tiny little itty bitty fact that it DID NOT.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/28/heathrow-ba-plane-strike-not-a-drone-incident

Yep, it HIT A BAG that was sucked into the sky by the winds. Hitting the bag caused the "Whump" wound that the pilots assumed HAD TO BE A DRONE.

BARELY covered by anyone, since "Pilots don't know what a bag is when they hit one, NOT a drone" wasn't a very notable update.

That's the thing, bags and birds and kites and balloons all sorts of things in the air now get reported by pilots as "Drones". Now I'm sure a few are, but LOTS are not.

Now, there is risk, I would not want to be flying a Cessna and hit a Phantom or other multicopter/model plane. It could smash thru the canopy to injure the pilot, damage the prop causing it to be unbalanced (requiring shutting down the engine), or hit someplace that could disable the engine or flight controls. So there is some valid reason for concern.

Irony is that the "registration" was pretty much a public affairs band-aid with no real teeth to it. Yeah a lot of modelers grumbled about it , and a few idiots STOPPED FLYING rather than register ("I'll show the Gubmint, I'll STOP HAVING FUN! Winning!"). But all it involved was a $5 fee (refunded to those to did so early), and address info. That's per-pilot, no registration of the models at all. The models were supposed to have the flier's FAA number on them, or inside of them such as the battery compartment.

But that was useless for affecting any irresponsible fliers, who were never going to register or put number in their models to begin with.

Now what is morel likely in the long term is for FAA to come up with something else, which will almost surely mean something WORSE. Which still won't stop irresponsible fliers but could really screw up model flying hobbies

So that is why i'm not really celebrating this.

BTW - as I understand it, some key people at AMA helped to make sure that Model Rocketry didn't get sucked up into this too. The way FAA was going in previous negotiations (Before the FAA went off the rails with the registration, AMA was not in favor of FAA doing that), FAA wanted to register ANY FLYING MODELS that weighed more than 250 grams, which would have included rockets.

Those of you who think the "fix" is "just" to get waivers to fly R/C models, yeah, you REALLY better rethinking that. Because imagine if Model Rocketry suddenly required a Waiver to fly anything over 250 grams (8.83 ounces). Actually, the more proportional thing would be to imagine if Model Rocketry required a waiver for anything over an ounce, since the typical model plane weighs 2-3 pounds. Or if in order for ANYONE to fly a model rocket, they could only do so at an NAR or TRA Launch? Would do wonders for NAR/TRA membership growth, but the hobby would be strangled due to lack of places for over 99% of those who had no such launches nearby (and most who get started in the hobby do so because it is so easy to just go out and fly SOMEWHERE safe of their own choosing locally, not drive 100 miles or more to try to fly their first Alpha or whatever, instead of HPR).

So imagine the effect on model aircraft with that kind of requirement (and that is not even worst-case, some talk about transponders onboard, which would add way more to the cost and yet irresponsible fliers would turn them off or if not possible to disable, modify with a different flight controller board that would work without a transponder connected).

And again the FAA could so easily "accidentally" sweep model rockets up into the next thing they try to do about "The Phantom Drone Menace"
 
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Winston

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Jet Airliner Pilot on Airliners vs. Drones
8/8/2015

https://jethead.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/airliners-vs-drones-calm-down/

Much ado has been produced by the media about the hazards of drones flying in proximity to airliners, but I’m happy to report: it’s much ado about nothing.

The hazard presented by unwanted objects in an aircraft’s flight path is nothing new. In fact, each year hundreds of bird strikes are dutifully and without fanfare reported by airline pilots as is required by law.


(Actually, there were 13,795 bird strike reports made in the US in 2015 alone):

https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_safety/wildlife/media/Wildlife-Strike-Report-1990-2015.pdf

What’s new is the opportunity for media and aviation “pundits” to claim more screaming headlines by overstating the drone hazard.

First, consider the typical, average weight of the plentiful waterfowl populating the bird sanctuaries neighboring JFK, LGA, ORD, DFW, SEA, PDX, LAX, SAN, DCA, SFO, BOS and most Florida airports to name but a few. The weight varies from the 10-13 pound goose to the heavier seabirds like pelican which can weigh up to 30 pounds.

Although the the media and some wannabe aviation pundits claim there are “drones of 50-60 pounds,” the fact is, the new, popular hobbyist drones are marvels of lightweight miniaturization, weighing a fraction of that.

Now, consider the exposure: while the new hobbyist drones begin to enjoy an increasing level of retail sales, the bird hazard numbers literally in the millions. By sheer numbers alone, bird conflicts and even bird strikes dwarf the number of drone “sightings” by airliners, but they’re simply no longer news.

Plainly stated, the traveling public – and thus the media – understand the exposure, accept it, and like the National Highway Traffic Safety traffic death toll, ignore it.

Trundle out the “new menace” of drones and heads turn, headlines accrue, news ratings uptick, and those who know little about jetliners begin to smell fear.

So let’s even go beyond the hazard and foresee an actual impact with a drone. I once flew from Pittsburgh to DFW with duck guts splattered all over my cockpit windscreen after hitting what maintenance technicians estimated to be a ten pound duck. There were two primary consequences I had to deal with.

First, I had to look through duck guts for two and a half hours. They partially slid off, but most froze onto the window at altitude and stayed. Second, the crew meal enroute was less appetizing with the backdrop of frozen duck guts. That’s it.

None of the birds went into either engine. No aircraft systems were affected. Nobody (besides Pittsburgh tower) knew until after landing when we filed the required reports.

This is a pretty good predictor of what might happen if the rare, statistically minute chance of a drone-aircraft collision were to occur: likely, nada.

Yes, there always the potential for engine damage when a “bird,” man made or real, is ingested by an engine. Nonetheless, of all the birds – man made or real – populating the skies around every major airport, drones are a minuscule fraction of the whole group that air travelers sensibly overlook day to day.

So why not focus on that reality rather than the shrieking media and aviation “experts” offering unlikely and often, absurd “what ifs?”

The answer is, the latter sells news, while the former undercuts the self-appointed aviation experts in and out of the media.

So the choice is yours. You can embrace the misguided drone hysteria served up by the news and “experts,” or apply the same logic you do to every daily hazard – including the drive to the airport (over 32,000 traffic deaths in 2014) – which is: drive carefully, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Anything else is much ado about nothing.
 

KidRockET

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...But that was useless for affecting any irresponsible fliers, who were never going to register or put number in their models to begin with...
Just because someone defies an overreaching government...

Does not make them irresponsible...
 

Winston

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Jet Airliner Pilot on Airliners vs. Drones
8/8/2015

https://jethead.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/airliners-vs-drones-calm-down/

Much ado has been produced by the media about the hazards of drones flying in proximity to airliners, but I’m happy to report: it’s much ado about nothing.

The hazard presented by unwanted objects in an aircraft’s flight path is nothing new. In fact, each year hundreds of bird strikes are dutifully and without fanfare reported by airline pilots as is required by law.


(Actually, there were 13,795 bird strike reports made in the US in 2015 alone):

https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_safety/wildlife/media/Wildlife-Strike-Report-1990-2015.pdf

What’s new is the opportunity for media and aviation “pundits” to claim more screaming headlines by overstating the drone hazard.

First, consider the typical, average weight of the plentiful waterfowl populating the bird sanctuaries neighboring JFK, LGA, ORD, DFW, SEA, PDX, LAX, SAN, DCA, SFO, BOS and most Florida airports to name but a few. The weight varies from the 10-13 pound goose to the heavier seabirds like pelican which can weigh up to 30 pounds.

Although the the media and some wannabe aviation pundits claim there are “drones of 50-60 pounds,” the fact is, the new, popular hobbyist drones are marvels of lightweight miniaturization, weighing a fraction of that.

Now, consider the exposure: while the new hobbyist drones begin to enjoy an increasing level of retail sales, the bird hazard numbers literally in the millions. By sheer numbers alone, bird conflicts and even bird strikes dwarf the number of drone “sightings” by airliners, but they’re simply no longer news.

Plainly stated, the traveling public – and thus the media – understand the exposure, accept it, and like the National Highway Traffic Safety traffic death toll, ignore it.

Trundle out the “new menace” of drones and heads turn, headlines accrue, news ratings uptick, and those who know little about jetliners begin to smell fear.

So let’s even go beyond the hazard and foresee an actual impact with a drone. I once flew from Pittsburgh to DFW with duck guts splattered all over my cockpit windscreen after hitting what maintenance technicians estimated to be a ten pound duck. There were two primary consequences I had to deal with.

First, I had to look through duck guts for two and a half hours. They partially slid off, but most froze onto the window at altitude and stayed. Second, the crew meal enroute was less appetizing with the backdrop of frozen duck guts. That’s it.

None of the birds went into either engine. No aircraft systems were affected. Nobody (besides Pittsburgh tower) knew until after landing when we filed the required reports.

This is a pretty good predictor of what might happen if the rare, statistically minute chance of a drone-aircraft collision were to occur: likely, nada.

Yes, there always the potential for engine damage when a “bird,” man made or real, is ingested by an engine. Nonetheless, of all the birds – man made or real – populating the skies around every major airport, drones are a minuscule fraction of the whole group that air travelers sensibly overlook day to day.

So why not focus on that reality rather than the shrieking media and aviation “experts” offering unlikely and often, absurd “what ifs?”

The answer is, the latter sells news, while the former undercuts the self-appointed aviation experts in and out of the media.

So the choice is yours. You can embrace the misguided drone hysteria served up by the news and “experts,” or apply the same logic you do to every daily hazard – including the drive to the airport (over 32,000 traffic deaths in 2014) – which is: drive carefully, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Anything else is much ado about nothing.
Statistical proof of the above using the FAA's huge bird/wildlife strike database spanning 25 years:

MERCATUS ON POLICY
Do Consumer Drones Endanger the National Airspace?
Evidence from Wildlife Strike Data
March, 2016

https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/Dourado-Wildlife-Strikes-MOP-v2.pdf

Excerpt:

"Or to put it another way, one damaging incident will occur no more than every 1.87 million years of 2kg UAS flight time. We further estimate that 6.12x10-8 collisions that cause an injury or fatality to passengers on board an aircraft will occur every 100,000 hours of 2kg UAS flight time, or once every 187 million years of operation. This appears to be an acceptable risk to the airspace."

OR to put it in an even BETTER way, if 187 -MILLION- RC pilots in the US flew their -2kg- RC aircraft simultaneously and -CONTINUOUSLY- for -ONE YEAR-, there might be as many as 100 collisions with manned aircraft which would cause damage and 1 injury or fatality to someone on those aircraft. That's 8760 hours of flight time during that year for each of the 187 million RC pilots.

Let's make that more reasonable using factors of ten to make it easy to calculate. Let's cut the number of regularly active RC pilots by a factor of 10 to 18.7 million (still probably far too high) and their annual flying time by a factor of 100 to 87.6 hours (1.68 hours each and every week). Overall, this reduces the damaging collision and injury/fatality figures from the above example by a factor of 10 * 100 = 1000.

For RC aircraft weighing 2kg:

100 damaging collisions per year / 1000 = 0.1 damaging collision per year or 1 every 10 years

1 passenger injury/fatality per year / 1000 = 0.001 passenger injury/fatality per year or 1 every 1000 years

By comparison, there were 13,795 bird strikes reported in 2015, injuries/fatalities average 16/yr over 25 years (not listed by year in the report), and a total of 608 commercial and general aviation aircraft were damaged by bird strikes in 2015.
 

Screaminhelo

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I have been in aviation for 25 years and have either been in or seen aircraft that hit all manner of objects; sparrows, bats, squirrels, balloons, kites, hawks, buzzards, geese, cowlings and trees just to name a few. I have seen a dove destroy a Plexiglas canopy and a goose just slide off and make a mess. Trees tend to break things but I am personally aware of five tree strikes and only one of those resulted in an aircraft that could not return home for repair. Many have the impression that aircraft are fragile things that fall apart at the smallest mishap when they are, in fact, rather robust contraptions that are designed to sustain a certain amount of damage and remain flyable.

I am actually less concerned about a strike from the typical hobby sized R/C aircraft than I am from an equivalent weight animal. Man made things like drones tend to shatter and dissipate much of the energy of a collision where as like a bird first compresses and concentrates some of the energy to a small area before it smears over the airframe.

The vast majority of drone flyers that I have encountered are very responsible and courteous to those around them. Yesterday, my son and I went to launch our newly minted Sprint XLs. There was a guy at the park who was flying and practicing some camera work and was very friendly and easy to work with when we walked up to co-ordinate our activities. Those who choose to be irresponsible and fly in such a way to endanger and/or annoy others are very much the exception rather than the rule in my experience.

The FAA can regulate use all that they want to but as long as the item is available for non-regulated sale, it won't do any good. I can only imagine what would happen if they tried to do that. In the end, I can understand regulation for some commercial uses. While the use of small craft for things like photography (real estate, insurance and event photography) really pose no more risk than a hobbyist flying at the park or in the back yard, doing something like power line surveys or package delivery poses a much different hazard to others. I'm not sure that you could easily separate the two in today's regulatory environment but I don't really see much need for regulating anything that falls into the current definitions for hobby R/C aircraft.
 

georgegassaway

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Just because someone defies an overreaching government...

Does not make them irresponsible...
I wan't talking abut those who did not register with the FAA.

BTW - You DO realize that you are registered to fly HPR, right? Not exactly with FAA directly but with NAR or TRA which require you to follow the FAA codes.

Unless you illegally fly at "outlaw" launches without waivers. Is that what you are admitting to?

The irresponsible fliers I refer to are ones who for example DO FLY near the ends of airport runways. I do not mean "within 5 miles", i mean stupidly close, near approach and landing zones (yes, some idiots have done so).

Also ones flying near forest fires to get video footage, where firefighting aircraft have been GROUNDED out of concern for mid-air collisions and rightly so.
https://www.theverge.com/2015/7/18/8998385/drones-delay-firefighters-fighting-california-wildfire

Crews spotted five drones in the area of the fire, and the firefighters were forced to ground their aircraft until the drones stopped operating in the airspace.

Also people like this fool who crashed his into the Seattle Space Needle. HOPE that was by accident but that's one of the biggest reasons not to do it to begin with in case of an accident. The good thing is that at least it stayed on top and didn't fall to the ground where there were people.

[video=youtube;mbxQtr1oFDY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbxQtr1oFDY[/video]

Models aircraft have safety codes too, and it's those fools who are causing the problems. It would be like say flying an M powered rocket without a waiver a half mile from an active airport, or firing a model with a glued-on nose cone AT a building.

THAT kind of irresponsible.

Things that people with COMMON SENSE would know would be irresponsible.

Not "I'll do any stupid damned thing I want to no matter how risky it is to OTHER PEOPLE and the gubmint can go to hell" idiotic attitudes. Those kind of people with attitudes like that are fools.

The biggest reason this has become a problem in the last few years is that historically, R/C model aircraft pilots flew responsibly, not endangering the public, with rare exceptions. You had to learn how to fly R/C in order to do it, and it was an "obscure" hobby. But with the advent of Multicopters with self-stabilization, onboard video that can be viewed LIVE, and "Drone flying" becoming a popular "Big Thing" it has resulted in massive numbers of new fliers who don't have a clue. Some who don't know how to fly well.

Some who can fly OK but have no respect for this as a hobby so they are out there to do "Hey Ya'll, watch this", stuff. Except a lot of it is recorded on video and posted to the world, including all the really dumb crap showing where they were doing dangerous stuff risking other people. And a few "hot shot" pilots who have been trying out outdo each other in some ridiculously stupid crap that I'm not going to post video examples of since they get paid for how many views those videos get. Three such big name hotshots got arrested a few weeks ago for trespassing, as they went onto the grounds of the building they were buzzing like crazy (video they later took down, IIRC, but not before the police/FAA made a copy that proved they were there).

So, with so many new people flying model aircraft (vast majority being self-stabilized or automated Multicopters), it's more of a "Toy" to them than a hobby. So a lot of them do dumb crap with them. Many of which will tire of it, or not buy another after crashing it or losing it or having it fall into the river/lake/ocean, since it's more of a Fad Toy. Now, that's not meant as a blanket statement about everyone who gets into it. There are a lot of people who get into it who DO fly responsibly. And some incredibly skilled pilots who are NOT flying irresponsibly.

But the ones who are flying irresponsibly are the ones causing a huge public problem. And the FAA can't ignore this in light of the massive number of real cases of "model aircraft" getting too close to manned aircraft, which was incredibly rare before this recent massive popularity of multicopters brought abut the huge numbers of new fliers who are flying irresponsibly (and often posting proof of their irresponsible flying).

FAA lost this round. But it wasn't that big a deal to register. NEXT thing they come up with, will likely be WORSE. And with fearmongering politicians it would be so easy for congress to change the laws to allow FAA to do far worse. And again our rocket hobby might be swept up into the next round of whatever the FAA does.
 
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Winston

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I wan't talking abut those who did not register with the FAA.
The problem is not the act of registration per se, it's about the FAA's perceived right to require it and the corresponding violation of Congressional mandates for them relating to hobby aviation. This acts as a "foot in the door." That this is a violation of that mandate has now been proven in court (for now). What makes this even worse (and more suspicious) is that using the FAA's own extensive data it can be shown statistically that accidental collisions of manned aircraft with hobby aircraft are NO THREAT. P-E-R-I-O-D.

So, let's put on our thinking caps and figure out the real reason they wanted this, proving that we here aren't as blatantly stupid as the average population and even many within the RC hobbyist community. I'll start by providing some major hints (I provided one already):

1. The FAA greatly helped to incite the public to drone hysteria via an always sensationalist media reporting the huge number of drone sales the FAA predicted, the FAA failing to point out that the vast, VAST majority of those drones would be small, cheap, mini and micro, short range drone toys and not the very expensive and much larger drones which, thanks to that sensationalist media, were involved in incidents being reported at the national level that normally may not even have been reported at the local level.
2. The FAA then used an "emergency measure" excuse to rush through hobbyist registration without the full, normally required 30 day period allowed for public comment. I think it was about half that. And, of course, nothing came of the almost certainly 100% negative input anyway.
3. IMMEDIATELY after registration began prior to Christmas, the FAA prohibited ALL RC flying... within 30 miles of Washington DC.

Now, consider that in conjunction with "don't go there" (for damned good reasons) topics here.
 

georgegassaway

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The idiot whose Phantom Drone crashed on White House Grounds in early 2015 is one of the biggest reasons for the 30 mile radius ban on flying R/C near Washington D.C.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/01/26/drone-crash-secret-service-faa/22352857/

Many other issues too, but THAT ONE really was a massive public relations blow to R/C in general and the "rallying point" for politicians and a big incentive for FAA to come up with ways to try to address this.

And if one was smart about their idiocy, there's commercial R/C models that can fly more than 30 miles. Indeed the record was a transatlantic flight over over 1900 miles, 14 years ago (arranged for in advance and legally done by a famous Model Airplane flier, Maynard Hill, and setting an FAI record for distance).

https://www.progressiveengineer.com/profiles/maynardHill.htm

But the ban within 30 miles means any R/C model in the air is flying illegally so presumed a possible threat.

If some damned fool launched an HPR rocket that crashed on White House grounds, and other fools were irresponsibly launching rockets in the paths of aircraft on a frequent basis, like too many of the new wave of "drone pilots" do stupid irresponsible stuff, we'd see the public and political pressure for the FAA take aim at our hobby too.

And BTW, model rockets are banned near the D.C. area. I do not recall the radius, but that has been in effect for many years. Long before 9/11 IIRC.

And GENERAL AVIATION (manned aircraft) is banned within 15 miles of D.C., with a few exceptions. So, a Cessna flying towards D.C. is going to be presumed a possible threat once it gets within 15 miles.

https://www.aopa.org/advocacy/advoc...gton-d-c-flight-restricted-zone-dc-3-airports
 
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boatgeek

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It was overturned on the basis of a 2012 regulation that prohibited the FAA from enacting additional model aircraft regulations. That doesn't mean that Congress can't go ahead and pass some laws on their own... and I think they should. Once some jet comes down because it sucks a drone into one of its engines and kills 200 people, then there's going to be a huge outcry... best to nip this is the bud now before the lawyers get involved. Lock drones to a 400' ceiling, unless you pay for a commercial license and enter some kind of unlock code. Registration was a cheap, easy first step, and it puts some level of responsibility upon the drone operator. That's why all the drone makers were in favor of it... the alternative is that THEY will have to do something, and THEY will end up paying for those lawyers.
They have some kind of kinetic energy rules already for FAR 101, which limits how big a rocket we can fly without an FAA waiver. There's probably enough studies of propeller and jet impacts with [object] to set a weight limit for a reasonable set of speeds.

A slightly interesting case from a legal standpoint, but the appellate court is correct in ruling that the FAA lacked legal authority to make such regulations because it had been specifically prohibited by Congress. Legislation trumps regulations, so I think it is pretty doubtful that the FAA regs will get reinstated on appeal. The only basis for appeal that I can see would involve the FAA arguing that drones somehow do not fall under the definition of a "model aircraft". However, that seems very doubtful; even the FAA (see https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/ admits that the definitions of "model aircraft" is quite broad: 1) capable of sustained atmospheric flight; (2) flown within visual range of the operator; (3) flown for recreational purposes. Interestingly, this definition from the FAA website does *not* agree in detail with the actual legislative definition in the 2012 act, though they are not too different (the legislative definition does not mention "sustained atmospheric flight" but does impose a 55lb weight limit). Under either definition, I believe the FAA has no winning case on appeal. Notably, there is no altitude limit in the legislative definition of model aircraft; that was the FAA's idea.

Re hazards, jet engines are designed to withstand ingestion of birds the size and weight of geese. In a multi-engine jet airplane, the odds of a single hobby drone sized object causing a crash are not very high since the aircraft are designed to be able to land with only one engine running.

And as for the FAA getting new legislative authority over hobby drones, I think the near absolute ban on publishing any regulation about hobby aircraft under 55 lb (see HR 658--67 S 336 here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Sec_331_336_UAS.pdf) in the 2012 legislation would trigger a serious response from various parties if there was a congressional attempt to alter it in any significant way.
FAA could regulate all drones that go out of the operator's line of sight as not being model aircraft under existing law, assuming there isn't anything other than what you post above.

This has been hashed out on RCGroups.com, but a couple highlights...

A ceiling does no good unless you have a hard floor for manned craft. They aren't really supposed to be that low, but they do it all the time. The only way an attitude limit on models helps is separation. If manned craft are below that, it's worthless. And if you want to see people pitch a fit, suggest a technical limiter to keep them up in addition to keeping us low.

The idea of a passenger liner crashing over a model is pretty far fetched. But hey, do some testing and lets quantify it. So long as methods and raw data are openly available for outside analysis. If only there were a group with funding for increasing aviation safety...... Oh, they are busy making illegal power grabs...

Ok, that might have been below the belt, but it's not wrong...

The one proven impact between an R/C plane and a manned plane was a giant scale, gas powered R/C vs a biplane. The manned plane landed safely.

For safety, I think a program like HPR waivers for higher altitudes, larger craft (maybe) and long range FPV has merit. Again, keep the models and the manned craft separate.

Frankly, a lot of R/C hobby users would be willing to work with FAA if they were doing anything remotely sensible. Instead they think we're wanting to drop butter on people... :D
As hobby drones get bigger and bigger with more and more metal and CF, I don't think it's that farfetched that a hobby could take out one engine on an airliner. The engines are supposed to keep all of the shrapnel from hitting the airliner body when they shred, but there have been several uncontained failures lately. An uncontained failure could reasonably injure or kill a few people. Whether losing a single engine would take a twin jet out of the air is another question.

Even though bird strikes haven't killed all that many people over the years, there have been a pretty good number of near misses. The Miracle on the Hudson could just as well have come out as a crash killing all ~200 on board if the pilot hadn't been as good as Captain Sully.
 

CaptainVideo

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FAA lost this round. But it wasn't that big a deal to register. NEXT thing they come up with, will likely be WORSE. And with fearmongering politicians it would be so easy for congress to change the laws to allow FAA to do far worse. And again our rocket hobby might be swept up into the next round of whatever the FAA does.
Anyone who thinks once a government regulation is passed it somehow "protects" them from further regulations on the same hobby/sport are kidding themselves. Bubba's gonna bubba, and every time he does something dumbass that gets media attention the response is going to be "The regulations aren't enough, we need more!!!" Rest assured if the drone regs were still in place and someone flew his model rocket in to a plane or the White House the press would be HOWLING for more regulations on rockets, probably using the drone regs as an example! (Drones have to register, why not rockets, blah, blah, blah).
 

GuyNoir

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The FAA promulgated a regulation that contradicted a law. You can't do that. Someone rightly challenged it in court and won. This kind of government overreach goes on all the time and needs to be monitored and stopped.

That said, irresponsible operation of ANY model, rocket or airplane matters not, can result in additional scrutiny and regulation.

If we want to keep the government out of our hobbies, we need to act responsibly.
 

Peter Olivola

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Conservative mantra aside, Mark, and human nature being what it is, we live in a society that is constantly trying to balance things out. The pendulum swings. It will swing back.

The club I flew with in the east lost a site due to someone ignoring specific instructions not to violate the no trespass instructions of a small enclosure to retrieve a rocket. That enclosure happened to belong to a government agency and was being continuously monitored.

There are consequences of inappropriate actions. Keeping things in balance is a moving target. Dogma doesn't solve problems, it only deepens the counter reaction.

The FAA promulgated a regulation that contradicted a law. You can't do that. Someone rightly challenged it in court and won. This kind of government overreach goes on all the time and needs to be monitored and stopped.

That said, irresponsible operation of ANY model, rocket or airplane matters not, can result in additional scrutiny and regulation.

If we want to keep the government out of our hobbies, we need to act responsibly.
 

Zauskycop

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Sorry, but Im on the other side of the fence (somewhat) on this. Drones CAN be a threat to aircraft, people, and property. Flown correctly, no they are not. Flown irresponsibly, yes they are. Having them registered was a small deterrent towards operators who flew irresponsibly and now even THAT is gone. Now I have to deal with pilots and their drone reports without the possibility of the irresponsible operator being caught.

And don't forget; LARGE jets can be flown on one engine. Smaller ones less so. And props are in trouble if there is a strike.

Tracy Ramsey
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Chicago Center
 

ttabbal

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The thing is, it never really registered the aircraft, it registered the PEOPLE. And all you had to do was stick a label on the craft with your FAA number. So if one were inclined to do something stupid, all they had to do was peel that off before takeoff. So it really did nothing at all to improve safety or create a deterrent. There is no possible way people can think they will get away with "I didn't know it was illegal to fly my toy at an airport/sports arena/etc". So if they want to do it, they won't use a labeled device to do it. The really ridiculous idea was that the FAA might find the parts in a wreck and identify the owner. I seriously doubt my stick on label is going to survive being ingested in a jet engine even if you do recover it. Particularly since many of them use thermal printers.

Don't get me wrong, people doing that are stupid/selfish in the extreme and deserve to be punished. To start with, make them ride along with first responders and make them scrape remains off the roads. Maybe that would help drive it home. But the registration thing was never going to help with any of this.

The only possible way it could help is if there were point of sale restrictions, like HPR motors, which is exactly what the manufacturers do NOT want. They want these things to be seen like toys so people will buy them for their kids etc.. Note that it does nothing to identify people using them stupidly. Just helps a little with idiots buying them. That's not real helpful though as you can build one without much hassle from parts you really can't regulate that way. The people that would learn how are the ones less likely to be morons though, so I guess that's something...
 

georgegassaway

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Sorry, but Im on the other side of the fence (somewhat) on this. Drones CAN be a threat to aircraft, people, and property. Flown correctly, no they are not. Flown irresponsibly, yes they are. Having them registered was a small deterrent towards operators who flew irresponsibly and now even THAT is gone. Now I have to deal with pilots and their drone reports without the possibility of the irresponsible operator being caught.
I certainly agree with the potential danger.

But let's say that this had not been overturned and still was in effect. For the most part, the responsible fliers, would be the ones to have their FAA ID on or in their models. But also for the most part, the irresponsible fliers would NOT put an FAA ID on their models. Of course a lot of irresponsible fliers are also stupid so some would be dumb enough to put an FAA ID n their models and go do stupid crap like fly near manned aircraft and sports stadiums and stuff. But also a lot of the irresponsible fliers would not be as stupid to put any form of ID on their models, not even a phone number in case the model was lost.

Bet the "bad Karma" model that crashed at the Baseball game never had any FAA number on it, but also very unlikely the "pilot" was ever registered to begin with.

So, I saw it more of the FAA doing "something" that was better than nothing, to address the public and political pressure. But not too likely to have a very practical effect - deep at FAA HQ they HAD to know it was more of a public relations "See - we DID SOMETHING about it!" thing rather than a truly effective thing to actually curtail irresponsible fliers.

This is why I see this court ruling, as correct as it should be, and a very likely BAD thing down the road as now FAA will have good reason to come up with either some other way that will be harder to shake legally, or congressional approval, for something that is far worse than just a pilot registering. A lot of R/C fliers who are celebrating this may be really regretting this in a year or two with FAA's next move. Should have left well (bad enough) enough alone, most are putting their heads in the sand with the delusion that FAA will give up.
 
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