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Airliner almost collided with the drone or how to prevent midair collision

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

The first part of the title refers to the incident that happened on 22nd of March, that hit the headlines last week.

American Airlines Group Bombardier CRJ 200, almost collided with a remote controlled aircraft near the Tallahassee Regional Airport. Pilot reported that he saw the drone so close to the aircraft, that he was sure he collided with it. Fortunately he didn’t, as the subsequent inspection of the passenger jet didn’t find any damage or sign of contact with a foreign object. The “drone” was a fixed wing model of a F-4 fighter aircraft, so it is suspected that it was piloted by a hobbyist, not a commercial drone operator. FAA investigated the case, but couldn’t identify the pilot of the UAV.

This puts the FAA in an awkward situation of explaining why commercial UAV use is illegal, and use of UAV by hobbyist isn’t. Any justification based on safety of the air traffic is pointless, since it can be compromised regardless of the classification of UAV users. Hopefully, the FAA will take the point and equalize, from the legal point of view, hobbyist and commercial drone operators. Dronologista hopes that equalizing won’t mean making all UAV use illegal.

An interesting update of this story can be found on Drone Girls great blog

Now to the second part of the title: how to prevent midair collision between drones and airliners. Couple of months ago, DJI introduced a new model, the Phantom Vision + featuring a unique solution to increase flight safety and prevent accidental flights into restricted areas. Firmware  for the new DJI product line includes No Fly Zones around airports worldwide (Tallahasee Regional Airport is not among them; maybe a software patch would be welcome). How it works, you can see in this video:

If the lawmakers are slow to figure out what can be done to ensure safe operation of UAS, they should apply efficient solutions, such as one DJI uses. Best practice will always be the best, until better appears.

 

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How to insure UAS business?

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

With new technology comes new risk. Public fear and skepticism towards UAS has been significant right from the start. However, such systems are being further developed, and are helping humans to accomplish numerous dull, dirty and dangerous tasks. But for general public acceptance, it is necessary to achieve adequate safety standards to mitigate new risks.

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN INSURANCE

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN INSURANCE. Courtesy of Lloyd’s

Insurance companies can play a vital role here. Their expertise in risk management can facilitate adoption of unmanned technology and development of related safety standards. And unlike lawmakers, they were not caught off guard by the emergence of commercial UAS/UAV. Where regulation and safety standards are yet to be developed, insurers can encourage prudent progress by making their own risk assessments and providing policies for responsible operators, the report says. For example, underwriters at Lloyd’s wrote one of the first motor insurance policies in 1904 and the first aviation cover in 1911, long before today’s liability regimes were put in place. Some of the Lloyd’s underwriters, e.g. Kiln Group Limited are already insuring UAS. Risks being insured include hull loss and third party liability.

Insurance is an important part of any enterprise, and companies that are offering UAS services are not exception. Understanding risks and having a proper mitigation, could be the key component that will make the difference between successful and unsuccessful UAS operators.

Lloyd’s has published recently an excellent report on this topic that you can find here.

Do you know other insurers that are offering products for UAS operators?

The city and the drones

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Skies of the cities in near future will be full of drones. They will be used for surveillance, mapping, infrastructure inspection, delivery, you name it. But how will UAV be incorporated in the existing fabric of urbanized areas? What kind of safety, legal, technical, liability, privacy etc. framework needs to be set up so that the potential of such vehicles can be fully utilized.

One of the first cities that will start experimenting with drone delivery system is Dubai. Officials of the United Arab Emirates want to introduce such system to deliver documents e.g. identification cards and driving licenses.

It will be interesting to see what will be the results of this experiment, because there are many questions to be answered:

  • What routes will drones take?
  • Will they fly over the existing street network, or above private property as well?
  • How will they be vertically and horizontally separated?
  • What kind of fail safe mechanism will be used?
  • How will the whole network be controlled etc.

Service provider that wants to use drones, will need to have some kind of “dronodrome” or station where UAV will land and take off, be serviced, recharged and loaded. Due to the limits of the operational range, several such stations need to exist throughout the city in order to cover required area. What kind of standards will be used to assess such station? Can it be privately owned?

City leaders need to start planning for the impact that drones will have on city services. New transport and delivery options may also open previously unknown opportunities in cities. But if those options are randomly embraced, without proper planning and preparation, they will create additional problems, and may harm a development of the city.

Because, no one will want to live in a city where drones are raining.

Spain bans drones

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On Monday, 7th of April, Spain’s State Agency for Aerial Safety (AESA), has banned commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles across the whole country.

photo credit: Matt From London via photopin cc

photo credit: Matt From London via photopin cc

AESA issued a document “with the aim of avoiding misunderstandings and possible incidents”that states: “The use of aircraft piloted by remote control with commercial or professional ends is not permitted, and never has been…”

Tasks that are mentioned in the document (aerial filming, surveillance, fire extinction etc.) require authorisation by AESA. But here is the catch-22: AESA cannot issue said authorizations because there is no legal basis to do so.

The decision directly undermines projects such is Atlas Experimental Flight Centre dedicated exclusively for experimental flights with unmanned aerial vehicles.

How long it will take for Spain’s authorities to develop new regulation for drones and their commercial uses, remains to be seen.

Legal Framework part 2

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Legal Framework part 2

United Kingdom

Civil Aviation Authority has published Information and guidance associated with the operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), stipulating that Operators of Small Unmanned Aircraft are required, to obtain permission from the CAA before commencing a flight in certain circumstances; these circumstances cover:

  • flights for aerial work purposes; and

  • flights within a congested area, or in proximity to people or property, by Small Unmanned Aircraft equipped for any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

Term ‘Small Unmanned Aircraft’ is used to describe unmanned aircraft with the mass 20kg or less. This type is exempt from the majority of the regulations that are normally applicable to manned aircraft e.g there is no airworthiness approval or registration requirements. However, Operating permission and pilot license are required and are considered on a case-by-case basis during application for an operating permission.

Further information can be found on UK CAA official web page.

Germany

Federal Ministry of Traffic and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur – BVMI has published on 1st of January 2014. a document called ‘Brief information about the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems’ (Kurzinformation über die Nutzung von unbemannten Luftfahrtsystemen) that states that the use of unmanned aerial systems is subject of authorization. Furthermore, the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems out of sight of the controller or with a mass exceeding 25 kg prohibited.

License for the commercial use of drones is issued on case-by-case basis, and is issued by aviation authorities of federal states. Aviation authorities are establishing if the intended use of unmanned aerial system is safe, an then the license is issued.

Also, this license can be issued for single task (Einzelerlaubnis – Single Permission) or general (Allgemeinerlaubnis – General Permission) that can be valid for up to 2 years.

Further information can be found on official BVMI web page.

Czech Republic

One of the first countries in Europe that has issued an official document that is tackling Unmanned Aerial Systems is Czech Republic.

On 21st of January 2013. a document called ‘Guidance procedures for issuing of permits to fly an unmanned aircraft’ (Směrnice postupy pro vydání povolení k létání letadla bez pilota) has been published, stating that pilots of UAS with the maximum take-off weight of more than 20 kg must be registered. Pilot registration requirements are theoretical (knowledge of applicable laws and regulations, flight physics etc) and practical (pilots are subjected to supervised check-out flight to prove their abilities). Also, pilots of UAS between 7kg and 20kg, can also be subjected to supervised check-out flight.

UAS are covered in this document as well, and the maximum take-off weight is more than 20kg, it is necessary to apply for register the UAS by Civil Aviation Authority of Czech Republic.

Further information can be found on official Civil Authority of Czech Republic web page.

Other countries

Beside UK, Germany and Czech Republic, other countries have published their document covering commercial use of drones. Links of corresponding authorities responsible for this topic are listed below:

France

Italy 

The Nederlands 

Now that the basics are covered, only if something changes from legal point of view will be published here. From now on, more interesting topics will be covered, starting with the next post.

Legal Framework part 1

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Legal Framework part 1

A couple of weeks ago, US federal judge dismissed the fine imposed by the FAA against a commercial drone operator. Although FAA will appeal to the ruling, the decision is a cornerstone event that will shape the future of commercial drone operations in the US and worldwide. It is a recognition that commercial drones are new reality, and that existing legal framework has to be adjusted to accommodate it.

But how does the legal framework look like at the moment?

United States

In 2012, US Congress ordered FAA to craft rules to safely integrate drones into U.S. skies by 2015. It is expected that some drone operations will be allowed by then, and the rest will be phased into the system over a longer period. Currently, FAA bans commercial drones, but the ban is not very effective, since they were used to film scenes in the Martin Scorsese-directed movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” for example. Agency is issuing permits for commercial drones on case-by-case basis, although, none was issued by now. In the ‘Roadmap for Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS)’ issued at the end of 2013, FAA presents a detailed, phased approach for drones integration by 2026. Also, there is a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS into the national airspace system.

More details you can find on FAA web page, here and here (both documents are PDF)

Next post will be about the legal framework that covers civilian application of UAV in European Union, and its member states.