Remote Controlled Helicopters cleared to fly by FAA (updated)

by planetmitch3 Comments

There's been a lot of discussion on planet5D lately (here and here) about the legality of flying RC (remote controlled) Helicopters or drones and today thanks to @AlvarezPhoto's tweet we see there are new rules coming into place to allow RC video.

UPDATE: It appears there's two sections of the story that are somewhat confusing at first read – but it appears that commercial flying won't be allowed until 2015.

First, I read this paragraph to mean it is effective now but note the ‘compels' word:

A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films.

Clarification (I added bolding)

Under the new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for “the safe integration” of all kinds of drones into American airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015. And it must come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.

I know there are plenty of concerns (not just the legality), safety, privacy, etc. But just be aware that this is expensive and potentially dangerous. I know Vincent Laforet is always encouraging people to just hire someone who is trained in all the rules and has experience.

From the NYTimes

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Daniel Gárate’s career came crashing to earth a few weeks ago. That’s when the Los Angeles Police Department warned local real estate agents not to hire photographers like Mr. Gárate, who was helping sell luxury property by using a drone to shoot sumptuous aerial movies. Flying drones for commercial purposes, the police said, violated federal aviation rules.

“I was paying the bills with this,” said Mr. Gárate, who recently gave an unpaid demonstration of his drone in this Southern California suburb.

His career will soon get back on track. A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones.

But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below — and what will be done with that information. Safety concerns like midair collisions and property damage on the ground are also an issue.

American courts have generally permitted surveillance of private property from public airspace. But scholars of privacy law expect that the likely proliferation of drones will force Americans to re-examine how much surveillance they are comfortable with.

“As privacy law stands today, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage,” said Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. “I don’t think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public.”

Under the new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for “the safe integration” of all kinds of drones into American airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015. And it must come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.

Read the whole story: Drones With an Eye on the Public Cleared to Fly – NYTimes.com.



What are your thoughts?

While the NYT article focuses a bit on the privacy issues – which I'm not concerned about – it does provide good news for those concerned about the legal issues around using a drone to make video without getting thrown in jail.

Are you planning to learn to fly one?

(cover photo credit: snap from the NYT story)

Comments

  1. Pingback: planet5D: Remote Controlled Helicopters Cleared to Fly by FAA? | Kelly On A Tangent

  2. I fly helicopters (RC) and drones for a hobby. My recent purchase of a 6 motor drone (DJI F550) can carry professional camera equipment for aerial photo/video – but I just have the GPS, auto pilot, compass gyro and mini computer that flies 2.5 miles with my radio controller. I have flown above 400′ and wondered if and how I would get in trouble. The police helicopters fly low and around me – but we play chase now as they seem to have fun when I fly high at their altitude. There must be regulations and security checks as these could be used for the wrong purpose very easily and would be impossible to detect or stop…

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