Great Info About US FAA Regulations for Multirotors

Discussion in 'Safety & Regulation' started by Long Range RC, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

    I just spoke with the guy I am working with to get my hexacopter approved with the FAA for police use. I am almost through the process but I asked him some good questions. The fact that there isn't anything that can be done to violators of the FAA rules is false. They check youtube video often and take complaints from actual pilots who report violators. You have to stay in line of site, no higher than 400 feet, not over crowds, no closer than 5 miles from an airport, no commercial use, and you should have a spotter. You might get away with it but if they want to and you are reported the fines are heavy. Even if you are an actual pilot you still can't fly one for hire unless you quadcopter or hexacopter has a flight approval stamp from the FAA. Mine will have all the required paperwork for air worthiness of my unit and I will have my proper private pilot ground certification before I put mine up. I want to be covered before I make my mistake. I don't like to role the dice on the chance I wont get caught. One thing that will be cool is that as long as I build my next hexacopter to the same specification it will be covered under my flight worthiness cert and I could provide them to people not wanting to go through the whole FAA regulation process as I am.

    Note from quadcopter forum moderation:

    This information is provided "as is" and may or may not be accurate at the time of it being read. As such it is not intended to be legal advice and is provided with no guarantee .

    Currently some of this info has become irrelevant due to revisions to section 333 and part 107.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2016
  2. Mike

    Mike =) Admin

    Did the FAA guy tell you about them watching youtube videos and going after people, or are there stories about that? I honestly wouldn't doubt that they do that, but I would assume that there would be a lot of people talking about it because there's a guy with a Phantom flying over just about every piece of decent scenery or event, it seems. The only time I've ever heard of anyone being "shut down", was some real estate agents who were advertising the service. It didn't mention any actual fines though. Also, there was that one time that someone was flying next to a commercial plane that was taking off or landing at a big airport. But I don't see anything being talked about in the news or on forums or blogs about people being tracked down and fined based on their youtube videos. Like I said - I don't doubt it, but I'm curious if they're actively doing that or not.

    Also - out of curiosity, when it comes to getting your quad certified for airworthiness, how is the actual inspection of the quad done? Do they do the inspection in person or based off of specs and photos? If it's in person, do you ship it to them or do you have to actually pay them a visit? I don't mind the regulation to keep things safe, but I hate red tape, so I hope they eventually streamline the process so it's not unnecessarily difficult to play by the rules.
  3. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

    I had to send photos and specs for every piece of my unit to include my ground station. They wanted weights on everything and the total weight of my helicopter. The wanted, max range, max height, max speed, turn speed, climb and descend rates, max wind, weather types it can fly in, and max heat and cold temps for the unit. Needless to say I had a few months just in test flights to get the figures they wanted.

    I will get a training COA first allowing me to train with my team to develop policies for use. Once I am comfortable they will send two men from the Washington FAA department to go over the helicopter for inspection and to check my ability to fly safe. That should answer part of the question you asked.

    The other part is about actively going after violators. My answer is yes, he said they are doing what they can and they will investigate complaints by people who make them. I know the guy I work with in manufacturing my hornets had two FAA guys visit a friend of his because he posted a video of him flying over 2000 feet in Columbus Ohio. He just received a strong warning. People are starting to get charged with flying over crowds and near manned aircraft. They are being charged with reckless endangerment but as of yet I haven't seen any dispositions on their cases.

    I think the main issue is that for the most part model aviation was for a long time only pro-sued by people who had a true love for flying just to see their craft in the air. Then cameras got attached and prices started dropping which brought them into the hands of people who don't really care about losing a few hundred dollars if their carelessness losses their craft.

    I think if someone was to buy one of my units at a price over $2,000.00 they would think twice before doing some of the crap I see people doing with the cheaper versions.

    Let be honest here. If the FAA has a rule that says don't fly over 400 feet and the bottom ceiling of class E air space is 700, why go over. They are clearly trying to separate us modelers from Manned aircraft by 300 feet. I see guys flying their quads up into the clouds and manned vfr flights aren't even allowed to fly into clouds without an instrument rating. You are not under any circumstances allowed to fly 5 miles from an airport but people are doing it as well. I know I have a had time seeing my unit sometimes while I fly so why should we think a real pilot in a manned aircraft is going to see our little bird size unit.

    I don't want more regulations because we don't need them. I just wish people would actually take it serious enough to educate themselves prior to sending their helicopters up and follow the rules already in place so we don't give the criers a reason to make us look bad in the media and push legislature to make more restrictions.

    I am pretty sure that most people flying their new units haven't tried to purchase insurance for them. I sure have because I know things go wrong. I have been doing this to long and I have had fly-a-ways and I have crashed many birds in my quest for finally producing a unit FAA worthy.

    Most new fliers have know idea to check the internet first for solar flare storms in their area prior to flying because they don't mention it in any manual I have seen but solar storms are a huge cause for fly-a-ways from the autonomous units and units controlled by GPS. If you watch some videos on youtube of unexplained crashes from their new unit and research the day of upload and their area you might be surprised what you find in their weather for that day.

    Now I am just ranting so I will stop for now. I just wish the new so called drone flyers would use their heads a little before we get un needed regulation placed on us. I totally understand me have to go through all the hoops because I want to use mine for Law Enforcement and I want the public to understand I wont be using mine for surveillance of law-biding people. If I have probable cause and an actual search warrant to look over a persons property then I will certainly have a look but not without a valid search warrant.
  4. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

    Here is an FAA airspace chart. We as hobbiests can fly in Clas G but only up to 400 feet

    Thomas in Niagara likes this.
  5. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

    This is the unit I am trying to get certified for Logan Police in Ohio.

    jasgad m6 full.jpg
  6. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

  7. Mike

    Mike =) Admin

    That is an intense process! Good job for sticking with it and seeing this whole thing through. Your experience is going to help a lot of people and I really appreciate you going into such detail here!

    At this point, I think that even at $2,000, people will do stupid stuff. For some people, money isn't an issue at all, so I think a lot of the stupidity comes from how easy people can get a multirotor in the air and start flying it. Not only are they a lot easier to buy now, if you buy most RTF's, you could be out flying decently the next day without any experience. This gives people a false sense of confidence and they think the control board is going to compensate for all their mistakes - and they also forget about all of the things that can go wrong with hardware and software.

    I think the other big thing is that people just plain don't know the rules. I have to be honest in that I learned a little bit from this conversation. I've always based my flying on general information I've heard here and there, like that you have to be three miles from an airport (which I am wrong about) and that you can't fly over 400 feet, and you must maintain line of site. I wasn't maintaining a knowledge of the exact details though - although I fly for the most part with line of site out int he country away from any airports. I typically won't go out of LOS because I don't want to have to hunt down my copter if it crashes.

    I also wasn't even aware of the issue with solar flare storms. You have a lot of knowledge! You should write a book on this stuff and sell it in the Kindle marketplace or something! It would likely be a hit with all of these new people trying to get into quads.

    This is some very, very good info. I'm going to sticky this thread so it gets more attention!

    That site showing every plane in the air is crazy! Kind of scary to think about how they have to coordinate all of that so none of them cross paths too closely.
  8. Mike

    Mike =) Admin

    I meant to ask about this too - what was your experience in trying to get insurance? This would actually be a great thing if it was offered, especially if they offered a discount for completing a safety course or something.
  9. Long Range RC

    Long Range RC Well-Known Member

    AMA has good insurance when you join. It is only around $50.00 for the whole year but you get 2,000,000.00 in coverage, 1,000.00 in damage or theft, and 28,000.00 in medical. State Farm doesn't offer it and neither does Nationwide. I am still looking but for now I am trying to see if I can get a rider on my home owners.
    Squirrel1138 likes this.
  10. Mike

    Mike =) Admin

    Squirrel1138 likes this.
  11. Sky Ryder

    Sky Ryder Member

    Well I look forward to the days when it's more like the wild west up in the skies and we don't have government telling us what we can and can't do all the time.

    My land in the Rocky States is high in the mountains but I've had a plane fly right over my land (I'm talking below 200 feet) from a local airport so I know in my neck of the woods it's a whole lot more Laissez-Faire when it comes to things like that. I know the FAA is federal but folks in some areas don't care about the red-tape, they just do their thing.

    I'm a city-dweller sometimes and I like to fly mine about there from the skyscrapers (this isn't in the USA). I like someone can get working for the police having a drove though, that is something of the entrepeneur somehow. :)
  12. What a great thread!! Great 411 LR! Living in Canada, we are headed down the same path to regulation albeit probably a little slower than the US. Transport Canada has guidelines for hobby crafts but under 35 kg (aprox 77 lbs) no official regs other than fly it low and safely. Here, we need to apply to Transport Canada [for commercial projects] for a Special Flight Operations Certificate, which takes about 20 days to process. I'm assuming that's for each job. Must make it a lot harder to book work assignments quickly. I am just getting into this as a hobby but I don't take on hobbies without an endgame. I would like to upgrade and at some point either tag onto an already working crew or do some realty work. The Niagara region is scenic, exciting and full of promise. But after dropping myX5C-1 into two trees already since September I'm not sure the world is ready for my career change just yet. :) I often wonder, while watching the Discovery Channel or History or even OLN, it seems that every other shot is a slow trolling follow along or view of a forest from directly above the treetops. The gold prospectors, the Alaskan boyos all those shows seem to have Quad shots. Do they all have to be approved or is there some kind of blanket option they can take advantage of? These shows would take forever to film if each shot needed to have a SFOC. As stated... Great thread!!! :)
  13. GJH105775

    GJH105775 Avid Linux User, and USAF 1C6 Moderator

    Like to mention that some of this info may now be incorrect due to revisions to section 333 and part 107.
  14. Mike

    Mike =) Admin

    Might be worth moving this caveat to the top or editing the first post to mention this at the top. I didn't want to move your post and confuse you though.
  15. Birdy

    Birdy Well-Known Member

    And just the usual reminder that the new FAA regs apply to commercial/business users and not Joe Doaks flying his Syma in the back yard.

    Lots of confusion out there.
  16. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    Another piece of airspace that is forbidden is over or near a military base. You can be absolutely certain, that the military unit, especially if WMD are stored there, have ALL KINDS of surveillance equipment that WILL track your drone. And you WILL be paid a visit by either the FAA, the FBI, or both.
  17. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member

    The problem comes when "Joe Doaks" flying his Syma in his backyard, exceeds the 400 foot vertical threshold, thinking he's safe because it's in airspace above his backyard. What gets him jammed up, is when he posts a video bragging about doing it, on Youtube, or other social media. That's an "in your face" dare to the FAA.
  18. Birdy

    Birdy Well-Known Member

    Well, yeah, definitely if one is out there posting vids.

    But I’d also contend that if somebody’s flying, say, an X5c-1 at over 400 feet they have bigger issues than the FAA. That’s probably a flyaway -- and -- adios quad!
  19. GJH105775

    GJH105775 Avid Linux User, and USAF 1C6 Moderator

    That and no plane is going to be taking damage to any critical system at 400 feet from a Syma X5c. I doubt that they are going too fast or that it would do near the damage of your average pigeon.
  20. GJH105775

    GJH105775 Avid Linux User, and USAF 1C6 Moderator

    The FBI have no place in base security, and it may be mistaken for a bird or object/reflection too small to wrooy with so it would probably only be reported by some hard nosed security forces guy glancing upward at the right time. Most bases would probably have restricted airspace due to security and even more importantly their landing strips and helipads, but perhaps not all. :p
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016

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