Likely return of drone registration

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Winston

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
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[video=youtube;JcNec6JPKqw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcNec6JPKqw[/video]

"A defense authorization bill that includes a return to civilian drone registration has been approved by a House/Senate conference committee, and is expected to be passed by both chambers and signed by President Trump. The language is included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. It would again require the registration of drones weighing more than about half a pound with the federal government. AUVSI president and CEO Brian Wynne has expressed support for the policy, saying a drone registration system 'promotes responsibility by all users of the national airspace.'"

BTW, during the FAA registration era, not a SINGLE person in violation of safe practices who was caught was caught by virtue of their registration. Also, the mass limit at which FAA registration was required (>250g), derived from laughable, rectally extracted WAG calculations in the original, rushed study to prevent the 2015 Christmas drone apocalypse that never materialized then or since has been shown to be ridiculously low by multiple theoretical analysis studies and an actual, extensive physical test program commissioned by the FAA itself, but the limit apparently persists in this legislation.
 
You would think the weight limit would be at least 3.3 lbs., in line with hobby rockets.
Other countries have blindly copied the 250g limit in their legislation or pending legislation. Despite the extremely slim odds of a damaging accidental collision with manned aircraft even without comparison to the vastly greater bird strike problem as well as studies that have shown that 2kg is a more reasonable limit for concern as well as the obvious futility of legislating against stupid, irresponsible behavior, against which laws and consequences for violating those laws already exist (think "reckless endangerment"), both the drive for registration and the ridiculously low mass limit persists nearly worldwide.

Can we put on our thinking caps to figure out why?

Here's a hint - IMMEDIATELY after the rushed 2015 registration requirement was implemented in violation of the 30 day "request for public comments" period before a new policy is implemented (as if the overwhelmingly negative public comments would have made any difference anyway) ALL R/C flying within 30 miles of Washington DC was BANNED. Nowhere else, just DC.

After the FAA itself had whipped up extreme drone hysteria in the typically clueless, sensationalist mainstream media in late 2015 by quoting insane sales figure for drones and presenting them as if they were all large DJI type drones when, in fact, the vast majority of those sold and to be sold were very small, cheap, toy grade models, we had this dog and pony show, the claimed accidental hazard justification for which was disproved even then with those disproofs having since been proven to be correct:

[video=youtube;uLA8VvzKKGo]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLA8VvzKKGo[/video]

So, I ask again what was and IS this all about?

Here's another hint - if our rockets were easily able to be remotely guided by cheap, readily available, of-the-shelf first person video hardware, what would be OUR weight limit requiring registration with the feds?
 
A very small number of people have shown why we can't have nice things. Just in Seattle, we had the first person convicted of flying a drone negligently (flew over a crowd in a parade, lost power, crashed into a building and then landed on and injured some lawyers) and then another one charged or convicted just recently (crashed a drone into the Space Needle while pyro crews were setting up New Year's Eve fireworks). The first guy claimed to the judge that he was a totally responsible flier. The prosecution then brought up his YouTube channel, where he had just posted a video of him flying over a crowd of high school students for pictures while the drone ran out of batteries and did an emergency landing. The judge was not impressed.

Anyway, I don't know if registration is the right answer, but it's probably the least we're going to get since there are enough irresponsible jerks out there to give everyone else a bad name. If someone lawndarted a rocket on the White House lawn, I'd expect some new restrictions on rocketry, too. I'd guess 250g is a "will this hurt someone it falls on" number and not a "will this take down a 737" number.
 
The first registration was such a "cluster", I doubt the sign-up this time will be anywhere near the numbers of the first one. I did the first...

:facepalm:
 
As a student pilot here, I've had experience of hitting a roughly 1kg bird in a Cessna 150 at the wing root on takeoff during rotation where you're holding back on the yoke to increase pitch for a climb. Had to declare an emergency and abort the takeoff. The flight instructor and I were pissed a "mere" visual blood stain grounded the aircraft officially by FAA paperwork for the day.

Any drone of similar weight would get crushed into a thousand foam/plastic pieces and I think the registration is non-sense for anything smaller than a Predator UAV. Actually the FSO and flight services never even knew where military drones were which drove us civilian pilots a bit more than annoyed. Grey drone, gray skies, oh just see and avoid the thing with no transponder that the Control tower couldn't easily identify like all other craft...

My dumb opinion, Just keep you're drones unregistered unless you're a commercial op. You call it a kids R/C toy for f---s sake.
 
The only thing flight services would say to civil pilots about Predator drones were they are operating in blah mile radius vincitity of blah airport ICAO. Additional activities include low altitude paramilitary fast roping with helicopters under NVG. Be advised military drones do not have transponders so tracking exact flight paths are difficult for ATC. ATC services terminated after blah hour.

We basically just stayed the hell away from places like that. Because the government oddly doesn't want to know where it's own drones are. And their drones are a lot larger and more dangerous than any civil drone. The military kinda gets to use FAA regulated airspace on its own rules which leads to a bunch of training accidents with civil aircraft usually.
 
Anyway, I don't know if registration is the right answer, but it's probably the least we're going to get since there are enough irresponsible jerks out there to give everyone else a bad name.

I don't agree it's fair to drone operators, as a civil pilot. The drones pose less threat than a bird strike unless you want to include larger military drones. And the government doesn't put transponders on military drones which is a nightmare for ATC to track agmonst civilian air traffic. All the civilian aircraft get transponders to ident to tell an ATC radar station instantly a highlighted location in a group of radar contacts specific information such as tail numbers and type.
 
The first registration was such a "cluster", I doubt the sign-up this time will be anywhere near the numbers of the first one. I did the first...

:facepalm:

My university prof said it took a year for the paperwork to clear for a 45,000ft flight with a drone, because at that time the FAA couldn't classify a category to it for the research needed.
 
My fear is the R/C hobby would be over burdened by regulations. What is the end limit of the regulations? Are they going to essentially require licenses to operate mere R/C toys under a certain weight limit? Would there be federal prosecutions with federal law enforcement agencies the same scale as an manned civil aircraft "busting" airspace? The FBI usually deals with instances like that and the civil pilot loses in court over FAA provided radar data. The manned craft pilot gets one time to rebut the claims. I've known pilots that have won, because the investigations and claims aren't always correct.

God help anyone if drones or rockets had such fury laid upon them over unintentional airspace incursions.
 
My fear is the R/C hobby would be over burdened by regulations. What is the end limit of the regulations?

Given the quantity of the drones out there already (I see one or more flying at all local parks when we go out), any attempt to police registration efforts would be practically futile.
Assuming an average selling price of ~$100/per, there is more than 1Mil of them in the US airspace already, and another 1+M to be added this year:
https://www.businessinsider.com/drone-sales-in-us-chart-2017-5

All this would accomplish is open the door for selective legal prosecution, but the penalties already on the books for doing something idiotic with a drone are higher than what this regulation would impose.
Thus, basically, it's a lifetime employment provision for a few more federal employees to push paperwork around in the name of 'safety'....


a
 
According to the AMA’s info here: https://www.modelaircraft.org/aboutama/faa-uas-faq.aspx this legislation just reverses the court case that got the registration requirement lifted, which means we’re back to registering fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters as well as multi-rotor things that seem to be “drones” to the public.

*sigh*

I never registered last time as I’d been exclusively flying rockets for awhile (as well as not being all that pleased that the “requirement” existed). I need to get one of my planes out and in the air before this happens again.
 
Like last time, it will achieve a whole lot of nothing if safety is the concern. And I'm sure that anyone doing something irresponsible would certainly write their name on their drone.. sure... Just like nobody ever tampers with serial numbers on firearms, vehicles, etc.. I've also got a lovely bridge for sale in San Francisco. sigh...
 
And as to the weight limit (250g) - I agree that’s ludicrous. My former employer (I retired from Boeing about a year ago) has to design for 8 lb. birds these days (which is, in some areas of the airplane, can be pretty challenging) and 4 lb. birds was the standard prior to that.

That said, I don’t mean to imply that a DJI Phantom wouldn’t make a horrible noise in the airplane when it got hit by a 737 and, if ingested by an engine it would be expensive, both for the air turnback and the subsequent repairs to the engine itself, but it’s not going to bring the airplane down.
 
My father is a commercial ATP flying Phenom 300 business jets for a corporate firm and he often shares some of his flight experiences. He flew huey's in nam so not much phases him. Birdstrikes do put a different feeling about it. There was one week where him and a co-pilot had hit a flock of geese at about 300 knots plus on descent and it was rather amazing to them that no one noticed in flight until the cabin forward started smelling like cooked goose. There wasn't many noticable dents on the airframe especially the leading edges of wing from what they recalled and the engines maintained power which was a remarkable feat of engineering design. The plane went into maintenance and was flying the next week after a real teardown. It had a whole bunch of blood splats and feathers stuck in places. Their typical problems were stuck landing gears oddly of all things and birds/drone strikes are extremely low occurrence. It's more of a shock hitting the first bird with a plane, because of how rare the event is, it's even rarer for the aircraft to take a bunch of damage, and to be honest usually the metal plane wins. It takes a real hefty bird in a very specific place to down a plane.

Embraer and Boeing are exceeding these requirements in certain places on the airframes...
 
According to the AMA’s info here: https://www.modelaircraft.org/aboutama/faa-uas-faq.aspx this legislation just reverses the court case that got the registration requirement lifted, which means we’re back to registering fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters as well as multi-rotor things that seem to be “drones” to the public.

*sigh*

I never registered last time as I’d been exclusively flying rockets for awhile (as well as not being all that pleased that the “requirement” existed). I need to get one of my planes out and in the air before this happens again.
After registration passed, I let my AMA membership lapse and let them know why - they did nothing effective to fight this useless BS. I also didn't fly anything R/C over 250g to remain legal without registering.

That reminds me of another clue about the real reason for this BS which I forgot to mention above - you only need to register yourself if what you fly over 250g is radio controlled:

Posted by AMA, Dec 12, 2015
Q: Is Control Line Exempt? A: Control line models are not controlled by a ground-control station, are not part of an unmanned aircraft system and as such are not required to be registered.
Q: Is Free Flight exempt? A: Similarly, free flight models are not controlled by a ground-control station, are not part of an unmanned aircraft system and as such are not required to be registered.
[Note the ever-present wording in the original registration FAQ to make it seem like the aircraft is being registered. It isn't, it's the pilot. - W]

So, there you go. This is supposedly all about preventing accidental collisions with manned aircraft and people on the ground but for some really strange reason it doesn't matter how much your uncontrolled free flight model weighs. Since it isn't controlled, you don't need to register yourself with the feds.

Does that make sense considering the stated purpose of RC pilot registration - prevention of accidental collisions with aircraft or persons on the ground? Theoretically, you could legally fly up to a 55 POUND free flight model without registering yourself or asking for special clearance and you'd be entirely legal. You'd be stupid since one of those penalties for violating laws in existence long before "drones" were a thing and which would be perfectly adequate without further drone-specific rules and regs would kick in if anything bad happened - like laws against reckless endangerment - but you'd be entirely legal.

Equally telling, here's the free flight exception which requires you to register yourself:

"while free flight aircraft are not always under direct control by a pilot during flight, these aircraft are part of an unmanned aircraft system because they contain design elements and/or devices that allow them to be controlled by on-board systems or other self-controlling mechanisms."

So, even if your aircraft isn't under your direct radio control (free flight), if it has an onboard system that can control flight, oh, let's say a programmable flight controller with GPS, you need to register yourself with the feds. Uhhh, because such a control system would make it more likely than a totally uncontrolled free flight version of the exact same aircraft to accidentally collide with an aircraft or person? Riiiiiiight...

Those addition facts along what I listed above should be more than enough to tell you what this pilot registration thing is really all about.

Since I didn't fly anything over 250g during the registration period, I didn't register. Then, when registration was nixed, I rejoined the effectively useless AMA in their much cheaper Park Pilot program just to get insurance for flying stuff that's under 2 lbs and can fly less than 60mph. Now this registration BS pops up again.

The Dangers of Drones Were Regulated Before the FAA Noticed Them
March 31, 2016

https://www.heritage.org/crime-and-...rs-drones-were-regulated-the-faa-noticed-them

Purposeless Regulation: The FAA Drone Registry
February 2, 2016

https://www.heritage.org/government-regulation/report/purposeless-regulation-the-faa-drone-registry
 
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