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FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Old 04-19-2007, 08:32 PM
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BB_DF
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Default FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

The FAA gave us a really nice Valentine's Day present with this one. As mentioned earlier by laceycopter and others, the Colorado incident was not the action of a rogue FSDO, but unfortunately a nation-wide clamp-down. Here in Boise there is an outfit that has been doing AP with large RC blimps and helicopters for years, so I thought I'd contact them - sure enough they were completely shut down. The main issue that makes Advisory Circular 91-57 (1981), regarding RC aircraft, not applicable - is the notion of "for compensation or hire" (even though our models don't fit the true description of a UAS).

The only way out of this that I can see is to organize as some sort of business entity and apply for a Certificate Of Authorization or Waiver (COA). It's one of those things where there appears to be no middle ground; either you do it for fun, or you go all out and jump through their hoops. I have met a gentleman who has his own company and connections for consulting to local law enforcement entities. He is very interested in the TCU or X-Pro for surveillance, evidence gathering, HAZMAT, SWAT and other applications, which might give him a shot at getting a COA. Also we would be acting as trainers, rather than directly flying the aircraft "for compensation or hire". This could be a good test case.

I'm sure there are other ways to approach the problem, but I think we have to accept the fact that the rules have shifted significantly and permanently. This will make the "Commercial" and "Industrial" RC fields more problematic in this country.

Cheers,
Bruce

Old 04-19-2007, 09:57 PM
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laceycopter
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

I tried to tell them....but they didn't believe me....they'll find out...
Federal Register: February 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 29)] Rules and Regulations.
Old 04-20-2007, 07:52 AM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

What is the CO incident? and what is a rogue FSDO? Also exactly how are they going to enforce this?
Old 04-20-2007, 10:07 AM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Hi l8braker,
Sorry about all the acronyms. The story of the Colorado RC AP business that was shut down by the FAA was listed by laceycopter [link=http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_5151083/anchors_5480639/mpage_5/key_faa/anchor/tm.htm#5480639]here[/link].

A FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) is a local branch of the FAA, located in every major city. The enforcement of FAA regulations varies significantly between FSDOs, so the hope was that the Denver office was over-reaching their authority. However, it appears that this is not the case and that the FAA has genuinely decided to crack down on "for hire or compensation" activities.

I think one reason for this is the increased activities of military UAVs such as the Predator, inside the United States. There are increasing occurrances of Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) around military bases and organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assocation (AOPA) have been lobbying Congress to restrict their activities. The fear is that one day a Cessna and a Predator will have a mid-air collision, due to the difficulty of each to see each other. The government's response is to ban all civilian aircraft from the area! This focus on UAVs has probably contributed to the increased scrutiny of unmanned vehicles in general, and has lead to this new ruling.

How will they enforce it? Well, I have a helicopter, airplane, glider and instrument ratings issued by the FAA, and I believe I'm pretty familiar with the way they operate. Every FSDO has some complement of government employees that are trying to justify their paychecks and want to be a hero to their boss. So let's say you make the difficult decision to shut down your lucrative real estate AP business and follow the rules, while I throw caution to the wind and continue my business in bandito mode (and a lot less competition). Pretty soon the reports from you and similar shut-down operations start to trickle into the local FSDO about my illegal activities. Bingo - some desk-jockey busts me and becomes a hero! Get the picture?

Hope this helps to clarify the picture. We need to look for solutions or loopholes and keep each other informed.

Ciao,
Bruce
Old 04-20-2007, 12:05 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Wow, that's a drag. I wonder if the Canadian government will follow suit. I kind of doubt it, we're not quite so secure airspace conscious up here. Hell, the authorities haven't even figured out how to classify motor scooters yet.
Old 04-20-2007, 02:43 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP


ORIGINAL: techrtr

Wow, that's a drag. I wonder if the Canadian government will follow suit. I kind of doubt it, we're not quite so secure airspace conscious up here. Hell, the authorities haven't even figured out how to classify motor scooters yet.
I think all governments will follow suit...Just something my Dad taught me, and I quote: "Lacey if you learn nothing else in this life, Learn this....It's Always the money!...It's always all about the money."

If they charge us licensing fees, insurance, local business fees...They make a lot of $$$.
If you don't think that this is some how going to cost us, well I think your wrong.
Canada may not be so consious about there airspace, but if they see it can make them money...my guess is they will follow suit.
Good Luck & Happy Flyin,
Lacey
Old 04-20-2007, 05:03 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

How about if you work for a company as an employee, say a land development or real estate company, and you do RCAP for your employer and receive a paycheck for being an employee....and the AP stuff is just one of your many duties? Is that still covered? Or is it aimed more at folks just doing AP work for others for a fee? Probably states it clearly somewhere but thought I would ask.
Thanks
Old 04-20-2007, 06:19 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

AeroRecon,
You said it probably states the rules clearly somewhere...That is the problem, nothing is clear.

FAA Policy Statement :
The current FAA policy for UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) operations is that no person may operate a UAS in the National Airspace System without specific authority. For UAS operating as public aircraft the authority is the COA (Certificate(s) of Authorization) , for UAS operating as civil aircraft the authority is special airworthiness certificates, and for model aircraft the authority is AC 91-57. The FAA recognizes that people, companies and AP modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes.
A UAS is defined as:
UAS range in size from wingspans of 6 inches to 246 feet; and can weigh from approximately 4 ounces to over 25,600 pounds. . These devices may be as simple as a remotely controlled model aircraft used for recreational purposes or as complex as surveillance aircraft flying over hostile areas in warfare. They may be controlled either manually or through an autopilot using a data link to connect the pilot to their aircraft. They may perform a variety of public services: Surveillance, collection of air samples to determine levels of pollution, or rescue and recovery missions in crisis situations.

So I would say no you can't use it for work... says.... excludes it's use by person or companies for business purposes...think they got you to...

P.S. We were using ours mostly for a family owned land development and real estate company...We're not flying them now if that helps. [&o]
Old 04-20-2007, 07:02 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Lacey,
It seems it would be difficult for the FAA to draw the distinction between "modeling" and "for hire or compensation" in your case, because there would be no easy way to assess the degree to which your AP activities had affected the bottom line. What about taking "before" and "after" pictures of a development for your own reference? That is surely not "for compensation or hire".

Private pilots can use their own aircraft to enhance profits of their own businesses, so long as they do not directly charge a fee to their passengers. Still, isn't the end result pretty much the same? But it's legal. I knew a guy who was a real estate developer and flew prospective customers to sites in his own Bell 47 helicopter. You know darn well that helped close a lot of deals, even though he was operating as a Private Pilot. Is repaying a favor by closing a deal "for compensation or hire"? Who could prove the quid pro quo? One obvious difference, however, is that even as a Private Pilot, the aircraft has to be certificated.

-BB
Old 04-20-2007, 07:23 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Hi BB ..... For most land development around here you need AP's before you can start...So if you are not doing them yourself you need to hire someone. They are used for business purposes.
The Federal Register: February 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 29) Rules and Regulations says, "excludes it's use by person or companies for business purposes"...doesn't just say ""for compensation or hire" anymore.
Think they reworded it to eliminate the "for compension or hire" loop hole that was in the Advisory Circular 91-57 for back in 1981.
Old 04-20-2007, 07:34 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

I see. The words "for compensation or hire" are used to differentiate the Commercial from the Private license. Looks like they're taking the UAS issue in a whole new direction. "For business purposes" is about as broad a brush as they could find to tar us with!
Old 04-20-2007, 07:52 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Yep...The way it is worded seem like even if you Give a picture to a company and they use it "For business purposes" you could be in trouble....Does that make any sense????
I think I found a loop hole... UAS specs say anything from 6 inches to 246 foot wingspan falls under the regulations....I'm going to build a Rc Heli with a 247 foot rotor diameter... Boy I'm going to need LOTS of batteries!!!
Happy Flyin,
Lacey
Old 04-20-2007, 08:11 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

Or if you used 31 motors swinging 8" rotors.... Is wingspan cumulative? What if you don't have a wing? Is a plastic rotor (or 4 of them) considered a 'wing'?? Hmm.... I think you are on to something Lacey....
As always, thanks for the input...and to all of you. Good luck Denny!

Allen
Old 04-20-2007, 10:14 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

[link=http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-2402.pdf]Here[/link] is the actual PDF file of the Federal Register. There is actually something quite promising in it, which pertains directly to our interests. I've pulled out the text here:

/ --- /

The FAA has undertaken a safety review that will examine the
feasibility of creating a different category of unmanned ``vehicles''
that may be defined by the operator's visual line of sight and are also
small and slow enough to adequately mitigate hazards to other aircraft
and persons on the ground. The end product of this analysis may be a
new flight authorization instrument similar to AC 91-57, but focused on
operations which do not qualify as sport and recreation, but also may
not require a certificate of airworthiness. They will, however, require
compliance with applicable FAA regulations and guidance developed for
this category.

/ --- /

This is exactly what we need - a stricter and more specific variation of AC 91-57. Now the question is - how long will this take them to come up with the new rules?

- BB
Old 04-22-2007, 04:08 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

I have no idea how long it will take, but I am fairly confident that the FAA will come up with something reasonable. In general, they're in the business of allowing people to fly, not finding ways to disallow it.

The new "Sport Pilot" license category is a good example of that...It's actually not all that hard to become a full-blown Private Pilot, but it did require learning more about navigation and cross country procedures than the average weekend around-the-airport flier needed to know. The FAA recognized that there was a class of pilot who was interested in nothing more than flying around their local area for fun, so they figured out a way to accomodate it. Sport Pilots don't even need to have an FAA medical certificate, which was another "barrier" Private Pilots faced, they just need a valid Driver's License and a willingness to assert, "Yes, I'm fit to fly!" So in this case, the FAA did safety studies to ensure that lowering the barriers for people to get into the air wouldn't compromise safety, and then they determined it wouldn't, they figured out a way to facilitate it. Hopefully, the same will be true with the style of RC AP people mostly want to do.

(Yeah, I'm being just slightly Polly Anna-ish there...the other major reason the Sport Pilot category and its associated Light Sport Airplane type certificate got invented was due to pressure from the industry: They want to sell more airplanes, and getting more people into the sky is the best way to do it!)

Will
Old 04-23-2007, 09:13 AM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

I will go back to my first comment on this issue, "If you can not keep the boarders closed how are you going to staff something this large and much less important?"...Denny

ORIGINAL: AeroRecon

Or if you used 31 motors swinging 8" rotors.... Is wingspan cumulative? What if you don't have a wing? Is a plastic rotor (or 4 of them) considered a 'wing'?? Hmm.... I think you are on to something Lacey....
As always, thanks for the input...and to all of you. Good luck Denny!

Allen
Old 05-22-2007, 10:03 PM
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Default RE: FAA puts the kaibash on RC AP

[link=http://aplanding.com/smf/index.php/board,136.0.html]HERE[/link] is a link to two important pieces of documentation: an opinion by a 25-year veteran aviation attorney, and a letter from an insurer stating they will continue to do business with RC AP businesses.

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