Wednesday, August 12, 2015

UAS (drone) danger near airports as well as wildfires (and more)




I have written a few times recently about the danger the danger caused by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drone incursions over wildfires, see for example my article of July 20th

I don’t know about your area, but I know that airline crews have reported seeing UAS on approach to Newark-Liberty International Airport (NJ), and crews have spotted UAS near JFK airport (Queens). I was inspired to write this article because of what I thought is a great editorial ("Crackdowns needed on drones airports - editorial") written by the Star Ledger Editorial board On August 10, 2015. I saw the editorial in the August 10th edition of The Star Ledger that arrives in my driveway each morning. I'd like to thank them for making me aware of the CBS News interview with Captain Sullenburger that I embedded above.

I hope that you take a few moments to read this editorial. While the editorial board was speaking about UAS (drone) incursions at NY-NJ airports, I think that they are speaking to drone incursions at other airports, including perhaps yours. The Star Ledger Editorial Board urge that lawmakers and the FAA take action:
We're not sure anyone's listening, but the reckless behavior of a few drone operators should have made lawmakers and the FAA shake a leg by now.
The Star Ledger Editorial Board end their editorial by saying that
But until the guys with their tech toys are brought under control, we can expect more close calls and near misses. Until Washington acts, the technology is outpacing the rules that should govern its use.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post wrote an article on the August 10th Washington Post called Rogue drones a browning nuisance across the U.S. He reports on problems caused by several rogue drone (UAS) operators, including but not limited to drone (UAS) incursions over wildfires in California and drones flying “dangerously close to airports.” This article is worth reading, it isn’t long and includes a short video on rogue drone (UAS) operations. Whitlock provides a little background on the lack of UAS (drone) regulations for recreational users:
In general, drone misadventures are happening in a regulatory vacuum. The FAA has banned most commercial drone flights until it can finalize new safety rules — a step that will take at least another year.
But people who fly drones for fun aren’t regulated. Under a law passed in 2012 that was designed in part to protect model-airplane enthusiasts, the FAA cannot impose new restrictions on recreational drone owners. As a result, they are not required to obtain licenses, register their aircraft or undergo training. . . . 
To protect regular air traffic, the FAA has issued guidelines requiring that consumer drones stay at least five miles away from airports and below an altitude of 400 feet. 
Those standards are widely flouted, however; in the past month alone, airline pilots have reported close calls with drones near airports in New York, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Phoenix.
Please, if you have a hobby UAS (drone), stay away from wildfires, stay away from airports, and fly under 400 ft AGL. Fly your UAS safely, you may read more the FAA standards for unmanned aircraft systems here.

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