Small UAS Registration

Hello Everyone,faa3
The Federal Aviation Administration announced
earlier this week that it is assembling a task force which will be proposing new registration regulations for the small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry, or more commonly (and
inaccurately) known as the “drone” industry.  However, there is not a single grass-roots UAS organization such as the Small UAVCoalition (smallUAVcoalition.org) that is part of the task force that can voice their concerns on behalf of UAS users.

However, YOU can make a difference by submitting your feedback to the FAA by November 6, 2015 on the proposed registration regulations to:

Docket number FAA-2015-4378 at www.regulations.gov.

You can direct any questions you may have about this topic to the FAA Director Earl Lawrence at UASRegulation@faa.gov.

This will help protect your hobbyist or professional use of small UAVs or UAS from excessive government interference.  Every single opinion counts!  The FAA has demonstrated over the last year that it is responsive to public feedback of it’s proposed regulations which is encouraging.  Because of the feedback by the UAS industry and operators earlier this year, the FAA has backed away from some of the heavy-handed proposed regulations that were in the original 197-page proposed regulations (of which I read EVERY page).  There are some frightening proposals in that document (including up to $6,800 in knowledge certification and testing for operators), and I suggest that every UAS operator read them.  The reason being so that as these proposed regulations are slowly ironed out, you will be informed and aware so that you can provide strong counter-arguments against these unwarranted regulations.

Full version of the proposed regulations of small UAS by the FAA:

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ60_NPRM_2-15-2015_joint_signature.pdf

This is not only an issue for UAS operators, but for every American.  The federal government is consistently passing regulations without the consent of the American people, and this is just another violation of our constitutional right to a representative form of government.

Here is the FAA press release:

https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=19594

For more information on the proposed registration regulation as well as alternative ways of submitting your comments to the FAA:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/10/22/2015-26874/clarification-of-the-applicability-of-aircraft-registration-requirements-for-unmanned-aircraft

Here is my submission to the FAA on this matter.  Feel free to use it as a model, or even just copy and paste it with your name and send it to the FAA:

To whom it may concern,

I read the press release from Secretary Foxx with great concern. As a small UAS operator, I worry that the FAA will make it unfeasible for young and responsible small UAS users like myself to pursue all the possibilities that small UAS allow in the realms of cinematography and photography. Operators of small UAS and especially micro UAS (weighing less than 4.4 pounds) should not be required to register with the FAA or any government organization.

It is painfully obvious that the scope of such registration will beget a regulatory arms race by the FAA, and impose an undue burden on small UAS hobbyists as well as commercial operators. The benefits to public safety of such invasive and vehement regulatory efforts are lacking and do not justify the proposed regulations. Proposed mandatory registrations will not guarantee the safety of small UAS operation from reckless operators, just as car registrations does not guarantee public safety from drunk drivers. However, required registration of small UAS will certainly impose a burden on operators like myself that have to jump through yet another regulatory hoop imposed by the government.

There are many questions that remain unanswered until the task force presents their recommendations, but I also worry about the selection process of such task force. A cursory research of the UAS industry’s representation indicates that they have a penchant for regulations and may actually benefit from such regulation given that they have the resources to cover the cost required by such regulation and that inevitably such regulation will limit free enterprise. This in turn will have the potential of inhibiting future competition. Why didn’t the FAA invite grass-roots small UAS organizations such as the Small UAV Coalition that may articulate the concerns of small UAS operators without the agenda of industry giants?

I have no doubt that the FAA is acting in good faith. It is my hope that the FAA takes a sober approach toward regulation, and abandons the idea of mandatory registration of small UAS. Also, the FAA needs to explain to the public why it feels that it can pass regulations on the UAS industry without a vote by the American people.

If the FAA does succumb to the compulsion of imposing such a regulation, the FAA must make it financially and logistically possible for responsible small UAS operators like myself to comply to such registration. These are my recommendations for the small UAS registry:

1. Free registration
2. Easy online registration
3. That the registration entails a simple license number that can be printed and posted on the small UAS.

Respectfully,

Lance Childers

You’re the Sky

This is a short video about the bond between parents and their children.  The song actually inspired me to make the video.  My niece was turning a year old and we had a trip planned to Colorado as a sort of family reunion.  I was there for 3 days, and the weather was horrible almost the entire time.  The first time we hiked up a mountain, it was raining and I couldn’t film.  The second time, it didn’t rain and I was able to get some footage, but when I tried to fly my quadcopter up on the mountain I got an error message and couldn’t fly.  It was as if the universe didn’t want me to make this video.  The third time we took a hike (a few hours before my flight back home), I brought my laptop in addition to all my camera gear up the mountain again.  Ironically, since I brought my laptop with me in case the quadcopter needed calibrating, it didn’t need calibrating…go figure.  The sun came out, and I filmed about half of the video from there and made a few scenic stops on the way to the airport.  Enjoy!

FAA Proposed Regulations Will Ground Your Small UAV If You Don’t Get Involved!

Issue: The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is proposing burdensome regulations that will make is very difficult for young entrepreneurs to operate small UAVs.smaller

What To Do: The FAA is requesting the public to comment on the regulations.

How:   1.  Get informed and submit your feedback to the FAA by APRIL 24, 2015.

2. Read this post for more information.

The FAA has recently released proposed regulations of small UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems that weigh less than 55 pounds) which refers to the remote-controlled systems more commonly known as quadcopters, UAVs, or “drones.”

If passed, these regulations will severely restrict your ability to fly your craft or profit from your investment in anyway. There are at least three major issues with the regulations:

  1. Small UAS regulation will squash the ability of young entrepreneurs to operate a small UAS commercially:

A.  Requires an operator license and registration of UAS.

B.  Requires a knowledge-based test that cost upwards of $2,500

C.  Requires clearance from TSA for operation

D.  Costs of all tests and certifications could be up to $6,800

E.  Severely restrict small UAS operations

2.  The FAA is considering creating a micro UAS designation for UAS weighting less than 4.4 pounds.  This subcategory will be a lifeline for young entrepreneurs that cannot financially afford the cost of operation imposed by the small UAS regulations. I strongly support the creation of this subcategory with the least amount of regulations.

3. The FAA has not made it clear whether all or only some of these regulations will also apply to recreational users of small UAS.

However, there is something that YOU can do to help determine which regulations are passed and which are thrown out.  The FAA opened a public forum on February 15, 2015 to give the public a chance to voice their opinions on the proposed regulations, but the submission deadline is April 24, 2015.  The FAA has already proven that it is receptive to our feedback, and has already backed away from its earlier proposed regulations which were even worse than these.  The point is, you can make a difference if you take a few minutes to write the FAA.  If you own a small UAS, you’re thinking about buying one, or you are just tired of excessive government regulation, this is a great opportunity.

I have already done most of the heavy lifting for you.  I’ve read through the 195-page proposed regulations, researched, consulted with the Small UAV Coalition, and condensed my critiques of the proposed regulations down to a template which you can easily modify to apply to your needs.  The Small UAV Coalition advised me that I should not get bogged down with providing complicated statistics to make my arguments while writing my submission to the FAA, because the manufacturers will be taking care of that aspect.  Instead, I was advised to emphasize how it affects me as a user and a consumer of small UAS.  In addition, they advised that I should provide the FAA with feedback on the proposed regulations that will affect me the most if passed.

The FAA has proposed that operators of small UAS will not be allowed to pilot their craft without passing expensive knowledge testing, airman certification, TSA screening, aircraft registration, and license plate marking of your small UAS.

The FAA also wants to restrict operations of small UAS to daytime-only and also make it illegal to fly over or near persons not directly involved in the operation.  You should obviously fly with courtesy and caution.  However, the FAA doesn’t specify the extent to which these rules will apply.  In Canada, it’s illegal to fly within 100 feet laterally of any person, building, vehicle, or animal.  I’m hoping that the FAA doesn’t adopt rules that are this strict, because it would be almost impossible to fly ANYWHERE.  If passed, both of these proposals could greatly restrict the creative options for cinematography, photography, surveying, and many other operations that these aircraft are used for.

The FAA asks for public opinion as to whether a subcategory of small UAS should be created, known as micro UAS (UAS weighing less than 4.4 pounds).  I strongly suggest that you argue in favor of this, since the regulations of a micro UAS are likely to be more relaxed.

SUBMITTING YOUR COMMENTS

You can write or upload your comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-0150 to:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FAA-2015-0150-0017

Or you can mail your comments to: Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Overview of Proposed Regulations:

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/media/021515_suas_summary.pdf

FAA Press Release:

http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=18295

Full Version of Proposed Regulations (I strongly recommend reading this):

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ60_NPRM_2-15-2015_joint_signature.pdf

HERE IS MY SUBMISSION TO THE FAA.  FEEL FREE TO MODIFY IT OR SHARE IT:

To whom it may concern:

My name is Lance Childers.  I’m a recent graduate from the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.  I aspire to be a film maker, and as a stepping stone toward my goal, I hope to establish a small videography and photography business that utilizes a small UAS as an integral part of that business. I am very concerned about the impact that the proposed regulations of small UAS will have on young entrepreneurs and hobbyists like myself. The financial and regulatory burdens imposed by these regulations will make it impossible to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor using small UAS for young people with limited financial resources.

The proposed regulations open the door to the creation of a subcategory of small UAS that weigh less than 4.4 pounds.  This micro UAS category would help balance the FAA’s responsibility to safeguard public safety against the negative effects that regulations have on free enterprise. This micro UAS category should be exempted of FAA regulation. Given their small size, very light weight, and frangible construction, micro UAS don’t present a hazard to the general population. Moreover, any unlikely risk to the general population can be further mitigated by including a micro UAS addendum to the current guidelines for remote-controlled or model aircraft on the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) website.  The UAS America Fund LCC submitted a number of suggestions for regulating micro UAS. These suggestions are overly burdensome to operators and are not recommendable. A simple set of guidelines for micro UAS will ensure public safety and compliance with guidelines. In this way, the FAA can address general safety concerns of micro UAS operations while not imposing a burden on operators that will hamper creativity, entrepreneurship, and economic growth.

The regulations of micro UAS will have the greatest impact on young people with entrepreneurial dreams, because they would cover the majority of financially affordable small UAS for people with limited economic resources. If regulations are too burdensome, they will depress the interest of young people.  More importantly, if the FAA does not exempt micro UAS from small UAS regulations, it will adversely impact their ability to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor using a micro UAS.  For example, the proposed regulations for small UAS impose an unbearable financial burden by requiring: knowledge-based testing, TSA screening, and registration fees for operators of small UAS.  Pages 12 and 13 of the proposed regulations state that a knowledge-based test is required to acquire a license to operate a small UAS.  The intent of the regulation is to ensure a proper understanding of UAS operations and guidelines, but it is unreasonable to require operators of micro UAS (those weighing less than 4.4 pounds) to undergo this examination.  Micro UAS don’t present the same level of potential hazards as a small UAS weighing close to 55 pounds.  Micro UAS are best compared with remote-controlled model aircraft which are exempt from such tests.  Moreover, page 110 of the proposed regulations state that such tests must be taken in-person. This requirement will unintentionally discriminate against people who live far from an approved testing facility (i.e. rural areas) by imposing an extra financial cost and time-consuming burden of travel.

The regulations of small UAS also require that the TSA issue a security clearance (Security Threat Assessment) for applicants on page 118. This is an unreasonable regulatory burden, especially for micro UAS weighing less than 4.4 pounds, because they do not represent a clear and substantial threat to public safety.  Such regulations of small UAS will open the door to mandating operators of remote control model aircraft to undergo the same screening process.  If the concern is public safety due to nefarious ideological motivations, then why doesn’t the TSA make Security Threat Assessments a requirement for states to issue drivers licenses?  A car has far greater potential to cause public harm than a UAS weighing less than 4.4 pounds.  This regulation will also impose additional financial burdens to operators.  The cost of the Security Threat Assessment (STA) is subject to change by the TSA to mitigate operational cost.  This will add unforeseen costs to operators.  Also, regulations such as daytime-only operation restrictions will severely limit creative use of small UAS for videography and photography.

Recent advances in UAS technology have made aerial filming equipment affordable, and opened new creative and business opportunities for people like myself that would not be possible otherwise. It is my hope that the FAA carefully considers the impact of such regulations on this emerging and exciting industry, and allows the greatest space for innovation and creativity while safeguarding public safety.

Objections to Micro UAS Regulations

Daylight-Only Operation Restrictions for Small & Micro UAS

“Further, in order to enable maximum visibility for small UAS operation, the proposed rule would restrict small UAS to daylight-only operations (sunrise to sunset), and impose a minimum weather-visibility of 3 statute miles (5 kilometers) from the small UAS control station.” (p.14)

Some of the most beautiful photos and videos of urban landscapes are taken at night, and restricting flights to daytime-only hours would severely limit artistic potential in the UAS industry as well as place even more burdens upon the operators. The operator should simply inspect the operating area before launch to ensure that proper lighting will allow for safe take-off and landing, and verify that the UAS lights are working properly before take-off.  Nighttime operations would not pose a significant threat to people on the ground if the operators follow these simple procedures.

“The FAA has decided to propose limiting small UAS use to daylight-only operations due to the relatively small size of the small unmanned aircraft and the difficulty in being able to see it in darker environments to avoid other airspace users. The FAA also notes that most small unmanned aircraft flights under this proposed rule would take place at low altitudes, and flying at night would limit the small UAS operator’s ability to see people on the ground and take precautions to ensure that the small unmanned aircraft does not pose a hazard to those people.” (p.70)

The FAA mentions their concern that nighttime operations would make it difficult for small UAS operators to see and avoid other airspace users. This concern is based on a misguided assumption that UAS operators are flying in restricted areas/airspace and at restricted elevations where manned aircraft operate.  Existing regulations already prohibit flying outside of class G airspace without permission.  The FAA also acknowledges that “most small unmanned aircraft flights…would take place at low altitudes,” (p.70) which is true, so this further illustrates the unnecessary restrictions that this proposed daytime-only regulation would impose.  Therefore, the FAA should not place additional and redundant regulations upon small UAS operators.

“Moreover, allowing small UAS operations outside of daylight hours would require equipage specifications (such as a lighting system emitting a certain minimum amount of light) and airworthiness certification requirements that are contrary to the FAA’s goal of a minimally burdensome rule for small unmanned aircraft.” (p.70-71)

Manufacturers of small and micro UAS build the lighting systems into their UAS units.  UAS are outfitted with several lights which are used to communicate information to the operator, and they are always on while the UAS is operating.  Small UAS are even easier to see at night than during the day since the bright lights contrast against the dark sky, thus rendering this proposed regulation unnecessary.

“The FAA also notes that, for manned aircraft operations, the regulations provide for very specific lighting systems necessary to safely operate in the NAS. Those regulations require, among other things: (1) lighting system angles; (2) lighting system intensity; (3) lighting system color and position; (4) lighting system installation; and (5) lighting system configuration.” (p.71)

“The FAA welcomes public comments with suggestions on how to effectively mitigate the risk of operations of small unmanned aircraft during low-light or nighttime operations.” (p.71)

Suggestions:

  1. The operator should inspect the operating area before launch to ensure that proper lighting will allow for safe take-off and landing.
  1. Verify that the UAS lights are working properly before take-off.
  2. To minimize risk to the NAS, the operator should fly within class G airspace just as during daytime operations.
  1. Operations outside of class G airspace should only take place with prior permission granted from ATC just as is the procedure during daytime operations.

Nighttime operations would not pose a significant threat to people on the ground or the NAS if the operators follow these simple procedures.

“Because the above provisions would limit the security risk that could be posed by small UAS operations subject to this proposed rule, the Secretary proposes to find that these small UAS operations would not pose a threat to national security. We invite comments on this proposed finding.” (p.136)

The secretary is correct that small UAS would not pose a threat to national security.  However, nighttime operations of small UAS would not pose a significant security risk if the operators fly according to the same daytime operating restrictions, check the take-off and operation area to ensure for proper lighting, and verify that UAS lights are working properly.

“§ 107.29 Daylight operation.  No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft system except between the hours of official sunrise and sunset.” (p.180)

Page 159 of the proposed regulations states “the FAA calculated the probability of an accident by dividing the accident rate for general aviation pilots by the total number of hours and estimated that an accident would occur .001% of the time. Applying .001% to the small UAS in the analysis interval shows that the probability of an accident where property damage, injury, or death occurs is negligible.”

The FAA openly admits that there are no additional costs associated with administering an accident reporting system.  This makes it clear that there is no need to regulate micro UAS, and there should be minimal regulation of small UAS.

Furthermore, the .001% chance of incident is based on operations of manned aircraft.  When incidents occur with a manned aircraft, it is far more likely to cause harm to the pilots on board, passengers, and people on the ground.  A small UAS does not pose a comparable risk even when incidents DO occur.  I worry that these proposed regulations will become more complex and confusing which will further discourage entrepreneurs from participating.  These financial costs may seem reasonable for the authors of the regulations, however they are very burdensome for a recent college graduate or student with scarce financial resources with entrepreneurial goals.

Frangible Material

“The FAA is also considering whether to require, as part of the micro UAS approach, that the micro UAS be made out of frangible material…The FAA invites comments on whether it should eliminate frangibility from the micro UAS framework.” (p.58)

The FAA should eliminate the frangibility requirement for micro UAS. Micro UAS are, by design, lightweight vehicles that present minimal risks to public safety. The risk associated with flying directly over persons not involved in the operation is negligible.  The operator should carefully analyze the surrounding area before flying over people, and fly courteously and with common sense.

If such regulation is ratified, the FAA should clearly define the metrics used to qualify micro UAS construction as frangible.  The current description in the regulations are not clear and could lead to confusion. For example, most micro UAS are made of plastic, and therefore considered to be made of frangible material.  However NASCAR vehicles are designed so that they break apart on impact to disperse the force of collision.  Is the material that makes up a NASCAR vehicle to be considered frangible?  Greater clarification on the part of the FAA is necessary.

This requirement will further expand regulatory demands on the industry.  Additionally, such regulation will inevitably lead the FAA to issue frangibility certificates to sellers of micro UAS.

Operation over People

Table: “COMPARISON OF CANADIAN RULES GOVERNING MICRO UAS CLASS WITH PROVISIONS OF PROPOSED PART 107 AND MICRO UAS SUB-CLASSIFICATION” (p.55).

The table shows that the FAA “simply prohibits [small] UAS operations over any person not involved in the operations (unless under a covered structure).”

The FAA is not specific with regards to § 107.39 which states that small UAS may not fly over people not associated with the operation.  More clarification is needed to avoid potential excessive regulation in this aspect.  If rules are too strict, it will make operations in urban areas VERY difficult since there are people almost everywhere.  As referenced in the table on page 55, Canada’s current limitations on small UAS operations near people, buildings, vessels, and animals should not be adopted by the FAA.

Prohibition of First-Person Viewing

Table: “COMPARISON OF CANADIAN RULES GOVERNING MICRO UAS CLASS WITH PROVISIONS OF PROPOSED PART 107 AND MICRO UAS SUB-CLASSIFICATION” (p.55).

The table states that micro UAS should not be allowed to operate with first-person viewing systems.   It is not clear how this restriction will enhance public safety since it is already required that operators keep the UAS in their line-of-sight and do not use first-person view as the only navigational tool.  First-person viewing systems can be utilized as a navigational tool that provides accurate visual information about surroundings and real-time telemetry.  Most micro UAS equipped with first-person viewing systems are used for photography, videography, and surveying.  The main purpose of the first-person view is to ensure accurate, high-quality photography and videography. Thus, first person-view is an indispensable tool for artists who are operating micro UAS.  This regulation will directly  and detrimentally affect the operator’s ability to ensure the quality of their work.

The regulation should be no different from small UAS operations: “Yes, provided operator is visually capable of seeing the small UAS” (p.55).

Prohibition of Autonomous Flight

Table: “COMPARISON OF CANADIAN RULES GOVERNING MICRO UAS CLASS WITH PROVISIONS OF PROPOSED PART 107 AND MICRO UAS SUB-CLASSIFICATION” (p.55).

Micro UAS should also be allowed to extend their areas of operation and carry out autonomous flight. Micro UAS operations would not create a significantly increased risk to the public or the NAS, and would also remove burdensome restrictions from their operators.

Requirement of Obtaining an Operator Certificate

“No knowledge test would be required in order to obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a micro UAS rating; instead, the applicant would simply submit a signed statement to the FAA stating that he or she has familiarized him or herself with all of the areas of knowledge that are tested on the initial aeronautical knowledge test that is proposed under part 107.” (p.58)

The regulation imposed a biased regulatory burden to operators of micro UAS that is not required of comparable remote controlled aircrafts. Moreover, a signed statement does not guarantee familiarity with safety guidelines.

A compromise can be achieved by stating that mere operational use of micro UAS presupposes familiarity with the areas of knowledge tested on the aeronautical knowledge test. In addition, viewing of web-based tutorials should be strongly encouraged.  The avoidance of costly repairs to small UAS is enough motivation for operators to become familiar with operating procedures before flying, as well as incremental learning while flying.

Airspace Restriction

Table: “COMPARISON OF CANADIAN RULES GOVERNING MICRO UAS CLASS WITH PROVISIONS OF PROPOSED PART 107 AND MICRO UAS SUB-CLASSIFICATION” (p.55).

Micro UAS should be allowed to operate up to the same altitude limits as small UAS.  The operator of a micro UAS should be mindful of battery life when operating at these heights to ensure that there is more than enough time to descend and land safely.  In addition, manufacturers of micro UAS have failsafe mechanisms installed that trigger the craft to land over the launch area when battery life reaches a certain threshold, or transmission between the operator and craft is interfered with or lost.

Miscellaneous 

Micro UAS should be exempted from registration and the requirement for displaying the respective markings.

Objections to Knowledge Testing Requirements and Startup/Recurrent Costs

Maintenance and Inspection Regulation

“The FAA invites comments on the issues discussed in this section. The FAA also invites comments as to the costs and benefits of requiring small UAS operators to perform maintenance and inspections pursuant to existing regulations.” (p.91)

Small UAS operators should not have to obtain a PTO, register the aircraft, or obtain an airman certificate.  Requiring the operator to self-inspect the UAS and perform systems checks before launch is enough.  Any other regulations would result in a time-consuming and expensive processes for the operator.

Airman Certification Requirement

“The FAA believes that the training, testing, proficiency and experience requirements for obtaining a commercial pilot license have limited relevance to the nature of small UAS operations. The FAA invites public comment on its proposal to create a new category of airman certificate for small UAS operators.” (p.97)

The FAA is correct that the nature of small UAS operations have limited relevance to those of manned aircraft.  Small UAS require far less skill and knowledge to fly than a manned aircraft, and pose far less risk to the NAS, the operator, and people on the ground.  Requiring operators of small UAS to obtain an airman certificate of any kind will place unnecessary burdens on the operators, and will not yield significant benefits to the operators or the NAS.  A self-certification procedure would be enough to ensure that the operator is aware of all safety and operational protocols.

Flight Proficiency or Aeronautical Experience Demonstration Requirement

“The FAA invites comments on whether these applicants should be required to demonstrate flight proficiency and/or aeronautical experience. If so, what flight proficiency and/or aeronautical experience requirements should the FAA impose? The FAA also invites comments as to the costs and benefits of imposing these requirements.” (p.103)

UAS operators should not have to pass an expensive and time-consuming experience demonstration. Many small UAS manufacturers deliver instruction manuals with their units, and many tutorials are available online.  Moreover, the cost of repair of small UAS due to operator error are significantly high, and thus create an incentive for flight proficiency.  This on its own will strongly facilitate self-regulation.

The FAA does not factor into account that the profits made from commercial use of a manned aircraft is far greater than that of a small UAS.  Therefore, applying testing and certification standards to small UAS operators is not only burdensome, but disproportionately expensive.  Imposing these requirements will dampen small UAS industry growth.

Knowledge Testing Requirement

“Passage of a knowledge test would ensure that the applicant has demonstrated the aeronautical knowledge necessary to safely operate a small UAS regardless of how the applicant happened to acquire that knowledge. The FAA invites comments as to whether other requirements, such as passage of an FAA-approved training course, should be imposed either instead of or in addition to the proposed knowledge test.” (p.104) 

There should not be a knowledge test requirement or a required FAA-approved training course.  Reading the safety regulations proposed by the FAA such as altitude and airspace restrictions, as well as free online flying tutorials are sufficient for learning to fly a small UAS.  The idea of requiring a knowledge test for commercial operations, and not requiring them for hobbyist operations brings into question the necessity of the testing to begin with.  A hobbyist who is filming a recreational video, or a commercial operator who is doing the same thing (except for pay) will conduct the operation according to existing safety regulations.  Therefore, there is no significant safety benefit to penalizing the commercial operator.

“The FAA also invites comment on different UAS testing location options that might provide the lowest cost option for individuals, while protecting the integrity of the test and the information provided as part of the test-taking process.” (p.110)

An online test would be the lowest cost option for operators of small UAS.  The FAA stated that it cannot allow for this method since there is the chance that someone could cheat on the test.  However, many cities allow drivers to take defensive driving courses online.  If this method is sufficient for defensive driving courses, they are more than sufficient for small UAS testing.

“Based on the FAA’s experience with the existing 24-month flight review cycle, a recurrent knowledge test that is given every 24 months would ensure that the small UAS operator properly maintains the pertinent aeronautical knowledge. The FAA invites comments on this proposed requirement.” (p.111)

The knowledge test for small UAS operators should not be required to be taken every 24 months.  The FAA refers to requirements that pilots have to fulfill, however the FAA has also acknowledged that flying a small UAS is less complicated than flying a manned aircraft, and poses a minimal threat to public safety compared to manned aircraft.  Therefore, the FAA should not impose similar requirements on UAS operators as pilots of manned aircraft.

“Accordingly, the FAA proposes to require that the operator pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months. The FAA proposes 24 months as the appropriate recurrent testing frequency because that is the frequency of the recurrent flight review that pilots currently complete under 14 CFR 61.56.” (p. 111)

The FAA proposes that the operator of a small UAS must pass a knowledge test every 24 months just as a pilot of a manned aircraft.  This presents a disproportional comparison by the FAA between the potential hazard posed by a small UAS versus a manned aircraft.  A small UAS weighing less than 55 pounds does not present the same level of risk to the general public as a manned aircraft weighing thousands of pounds.  Operating procedures of small UAS are much less complicated than those of manned aircraft.  A more lax time interval should be strongly considered by the FAA to minimize the economic impact on small entities.

“The FAA invites comments as to whether this [airman] certificate should expire after a certain period of time. If so, when should the certificate expire?” (p.114)

Airman certificates should not be required, nor should they ever expire once they are acquired.

Table  “TOTAL AND PRESENT VALUE COST SUMMARY BY PROVISION”  (Pages 17 and 146) and Table Small UAS Operator Startup and Recurrent Costs (Page 152).

The cost summary in these tables is confusing. Are the cost summaries from the tables on pages 17 and 146 applicable to small UAS operators that are required to obtain an operator license?  Is the cost summary stated on page 152 applicable to micro UAS?  These cost summaries are not clear.

An Emerging Industry

Minimizing Burdensome Regulations

“In time, the FAA anticipates that the proposed rule would provide an opportunity to substitute small UAS operations for some higher risk manned flights, such as inspecting towers, bridges, or other structures. The use of small unmanned aircraft would avert potential fatalities and injuries to those in the aircraft and on the ground. It would also lead to more efficient methods of performing certain commercial tasks that are currently performed by other methods. The FAA has not quantified the benefits for this proposed rulemaking because we lack sufficient data. The FAA invites commenters to provide data that could be used to quantify the benefits of this proposed rule.” (p.15)

The FAA is correct in acknowledging that small UAS operations will save lives, minimize the risks associated with inspections of structures, and reduce the need for dangerous manned aircraft flights.  However, small UAS also allow for search and rescue missions, low-cost crop inspections, and low-cost aerial videography and photography.  If this industry is allowed to grow while being free of excessive FAA regulation, it will become a massive industry which will revolutionize many day-to-day operations.  Regulating the industry through daytime-only operations, micro UAS regulation, knowledge testing, registration requirements, and excessive operational area restrictions will severely dampen the growth and sustainability of this industry.

“Therefore this proposed rule would have a significant positive economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The FAA solicits comments regarding this determination.” (p.154)

While the proposed rule may require costs that seem reasonable to the FAA and the authors of these proposed regulations, they are unreasonable for someone with scarce financial resources.  The main reason why videographers and photographers buy small/micro UAS is because they cannot afford to operate, rent, or buy a manned aircraft.  These small UAS are a conduit for these people to acquire tools that were previously reserved for the wealthy.

Objections to “See and Avoid” Regulations

“The first safety concern is whether the person operating the small unmanned aircraft, who would be physically separated from that aircraft during flight, would have the ability to see manned aircraft in the air in time to prevent a mid-air collision between the small unmanned aircraft and another aircraft.” (p.20)

First-person viewing systems are used in many small and micro UAS operations, and these systems are very effective.  This gives the operator the same visual perspective as a pilot who is operating the craft from the inside.  This should satisfy the FAA requirement § 91.113(b).  The field of vision is wide, and unlike a manned aircraft, the craft can quickly turn to check the airspace in all directions.  The FAA mentions “the ability to see manned aircraft in the air” in order to prevent collisions.  However, this concern operates under the assumption that small UAS are operating in restricted airspace where manned aircraft operate.  Small UAS are already restricted to class G airspace (unless permission from ATC is granted prior to operation) and to an altitude of 500 feet.  Therefore, the situation is very unlikely to arise in the first place given the current regulations on airspace operations.  With that said, operators should always be aware of their surrounds and the operating airspace.  If a manned aircraft did approach the operating area, the small UAS would give way to the manned aircraft immediately.

“Because a loss of positive control can happen at any moment, the FAA’s proposed prohibition on operating small unmanned aircraft over most persons will minimize the risk that a person is standing under a small unmanned aircraft if that aircraft terminates flight and returns to the surface.” (p.81)

Most small UAS come with a failsafe mechanism.  With failsafe mode, the UAS can still be safely landed even after signal or positive control has been lost, by using the GPS module which is built into the UAS to navigate back to the launch site.  This failsafe mechanism helps protect the public from an uncontrolled landing in case positive control is lost, and protects the operator’s investments in the UAS.

“The FAA, however, does invite public comment as to whether an FAA medical certificate should be required. The FAA also invites comments as to the costs and benefits of requiring an airman medical certificate for an operator or visual observer.” (p.116)

There is no demonstrable catastrophic medical condition that could not be mitigated by standard, pre-installed failsafe mechanisms by manufactures. These mechanisms can automatically respond to loss of signal, loss of positive control, or low battery life by returning to the launch site.

They Aren’t Really Drones

There’s been a lot of uneasiness in the air lately regarding remote-controlled (RC) aerial vehicles.  The media has dubbed them “drones,” but this is a misleading term.  According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), drones are quad square“computer-controlled for nearly their entire flight.”  This means that drones have automated flight patterns, and the only human involvement MIGHT be during takeoff and landing.  The term “drone” classically refers to weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used in airstrikes.  I believe the media has used the term “drone” while referring to RC vehicles to scare the public into thinking that they are the same thing. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) wants to regulate the industry and the media hype is helping their case.  RC planes, helicopters, and cars are NOT new, yet all of a sudden there’s tons of exposure on the subject.  If the media isn’t manufacturing fear, there’s no reason to watch their shows or read their newspapers.

I believe that every law that needs to be in place regarding RC copter operation is already in place, and there is NO need to further restrict the industry.  There have been laws governing model aircraft since 1981 when advisory circular 91-57 was passed which set up model aircraft operating standards.  Some laws were also updated after the September 11 attacks.  This set of laws prohibits RC vehicles from flying over 400 feet in altitude.  It’s also illegal to fly within 5 miles of an airport unless permission is granted to the RC operator beforehand from the airport operator and the control tower.  It’s illegal to interfere with or to fly near aircraft, and flying within 3 miles of a stadium is also illegal starting an hour before a game starts until an hour after the game ends.  Violating this rule can land an RC operator in prison.  Certifications are also required for vehicles weighing 55 pounds or more.  I have heard that RC copters have flown near planes, most notably at JFK Airport in New York, and I think doing something like that is horribly reckless and deserves punishment.  However, I DON’T believe that the entire industry should be stripped of it’s entrepreneurial potential because of a few idiots.  Answer me this…how is ANOTHER government regulation which requires commercial operators to have a license going to keep idiots from flying near airports?!  THAT’S ALREADY ILLEGAL!  In fact, DJI, the largest manufacturer of RC quadcopters in the world, has a “No Waypoint Zones” feature that disables automated flights on their products within a 5 mile radius of a major airport.

There is also the concern of privacy.  Some people feel that this technology will allow others to spy on them in their homes or backyards.  Luckily, there are already “Peeping Tom” laws in place which prohibit this type of activity.  I honestly think this is just a laughable attempt by the FAA to justify their desire to regulate the industry.  Any attempt at spying with an RC copter would not only be ineffective but idiotic as well.  First of all, the small copter sounds like a small swarm of bees when it is close by.  If I tried to spy on a couple in their backyard or home (which is of no interest to me anyways), they would quickly be alerted by the whirring sound of the propellers and green, yellow, and red lights on the bottom of the machine.  Also, the only camera that these foot-by-foot toys can get into the air is a small action camera, or GoPro.  These cameras have wide-angle lenses.  So if a pervert wanted to spy on a couple in their bedroom, they would literally have to be about 5-10 feet away from the window to see ANYTHING.  I’m thinking this wouldn’t pan out too well for the pervert, as the cops would be on their way very quickly.  If I wanted to spy on someone, a far cheaper, quieter, effective, and inconspicuous method would include buying a telephoto lens for a handheld camera.  This technology doesn’t create a greater threat to privacy anymore than a smart phone which EVERYONE in the modern world already owns.

I would argue that RC quadcopters are easier and safer to fly than RC planes and other model aircraft predecessors.  Quadcopters don’t need a landing strip or expertise to take off.  They can hover in place rather than having to always be flying quickly through the air, and are generally smaller than most RC planes.  My quadcopter weighs a grand total of about 4.5 pounds.  It also has a GPS system inside that marks where I take off from.  In case I lose signal with the copter from of radio interference, excessive distance, or low battery power, it enters into “failsafe” mode.  When signal is lost, it ascends about 50 feet to clear trees and low-lying objects and then takes a straight horizontal trajectory to the exact spot from which I launched, and then slowly descends until it lands on the ground.  There are many other safety features that are included in these products.  No doubt they are much safer to fly than RC planes from the 1980s.

If the FAA keeps on it’s current course, I will be required to fly an AIRPLANE in order to get my PILOT’S LICENSE to fly my quadcopter commercially.  Recently, a Hollywood film crew was required to hire a licensed pilot to fly a quadcopter.  This is completely ridiculous since the two skills aren’t the least bit similar.  What I do is closer to playing video games…it’s not even remotely similar to flying a massive airplane!  I can’t even imagine how much a “pilot’s” license like this would cost (not to mention the time commitment).  It would certainly destroy the industry, and would destroy it for me too.  I saw some toy RC helicopters for sale at Home Depot last weekend, and I’m betting that nobody will ever need a license to fly one of those EVER.  What I fly is just a more expensive and complex piece of plastic with a GoPro on the bottom.

I believe that the FAA is wrong to attempt to further regulate the RC aerial vehicle industry, and the regulations they are proposing will choke many entrepreneurs.  In fact, a young entrepreneur was developing the use of a quadcopter for search and rescue missions, but the FAA grounded his business!  In addition to making it illegal to fly commercially without a pilot’s license, the FAA also wants to restrict flights to daytime hours which makes NO sense.  My copter has lights on it and I’d argue that it’s EASIER to keep track of it’s location at night.  Farmers need RC copters to cut the cost of crop surveillance, engineers need them to survey land and monitor pipelines, and realtors would benefit from using them to showcase properties.  Up-and-coming film makers without million dollar budgets for helicopters will also be hurt.  The only reason the FAA is interested in passing these new regulations in the first place is to suck more money away from the non-elite (non-government) people of America.  Even CANADA is not going to require a license to fly commercially, and it’s a socialist country!  Excessive government regulation will not make you safer, healthier, or happier.  It just makes it harder for the 99.9% of the population that isn’t mal-intended to make a living.  I can’t think of a single industry that is better off because of excessive government regulation.

The new rules will likely be announced by the end of the year.  The announcement will be followed by a public comment period.  I suggest that those of you who are against these proposed regulations should voice your concerns to the FAA and your representatives.  Also, “The Small UAV Coalition” (smalluavcoalition.org) is a UAV advocacy group trying to minimize government regulation of the industry through lobbying efforts.  I would definitely visit their website as well.

Once again, the difference between a “drone” and an RC vehicle is that a “drone” is almost entirely automated during it’s flight, while an RC aircraft is piloted by a person the entire flight.  If the government gets their hands on this industry, it will just make it harder on people like me who are aspiring film makers, and who don’t have a million-dollar budget to buy or rent a helicopter for aerial video clips.  There are already laws in place against “Peeping Toms” in addition to regulations passed since the circular advisory in 1981 on model aircraft operations.  These already-existing laws cover every reasonable safety rule that is relevant to RC quadcopters.  Further government regulation of this technology will only make it harder for entrepreneurs to make a living.  It will also limit me as an aspiring film-maker by limiting my tools since I don’t have the budget to buy or rent a helicopter.  More regulations will also damage the new realm of creativity that these incredible machines have spawned.  In fact, the creative options available with an RC copter are far more numerous than with a real helicopter.  If you haven’t seen the video that these great toys can create, you are missing out.  It’s a new way to see nature, landscapes, sports, and the world in general.  Here’s an example of one of my past works:

The Age of Victims

There seems to be a growing misconception in this country that we are not responsible for ourselves, but instead we are owed something…from somebody…anybody.  I will discuss the prevalence of this logical flaw, the effects this behavior has on society as a whole, the ultimate consequences, and a solution that will help prevent the further spread of this infection.

From government health care to frivolous lawsuits, sky-high unemployment to welfare, and political correctness to unions.  ObamaCare is perhaps the biggest leap this country has ever taken to becoming a socialist nation, and hopefully it isn’t topped.  Government sponsored health care (we were told) was supposed to make it affordable to everyone.  First of all, this is a fallacy.  The idea of government sponsored health care was developed with the intent of creating a platform based on a false premise that many Americans are incapable of acquiring it.  This platform was meant to pull at the heart-strings of the American people, as well as appeal to their desire for cheaper health care.  In reality, this was just a big lie, and anyone with any concept of economics would know the eventual outcome before it ever had a chance to play out.  The comical line by Obama “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan” always comes to mind when I think about ObamaCare.  What ObamaCare will eventually do (and is in the process of doing) is raising the costs of hospitals to provide services to the people, and this will obviously skyrocket the prices of medical care and lower the quality of it as well.  Not to mention, there’s no such thing as free stuff.  Somebody is going to have to pay for this new health care system, and it’s YOU the taxpayer.  By the way, I don’t think our veterans are on this administration’s radar either.  Instead of having medical care available to people in varying levels as they can afford, now EVERYONE will have crappy, expensive care!  When a product or service is taken away from the private sector and turned over to government, the competitive nature is taken out of the industry.  Competition drives innovation and lower prices.  Government does the opposite of this.  There are plenty of charities that help people who can’t afford proper medical care, and county hospitals as well.

Frivolous lawsuits are another example of people not taking responsibility for their actions.  Instead, they’d like a nice, rich company or another person pay for THEIR mistakes.  Somebody spilled a really hot cup of McDonald’s coffee on themselves, and sued McDonald’s for burns.  Really?  Just because a fast food chain serves their coffee really hot doesn’t make them responsible for somebody who had a clumsy moment.  If I spilled a cup of hot coffee on myself or tripped on the sidewalk in front of a store, literally the last thought going through my mind would be that I should SUE somebody.  I can’t even wrap my head around the mental gymnastics that some people are capable of doing.  It may be possible that these troubled individuals know they are wrong, but don’t have the conscience to care.

The media reports moderate unemployment rates, however it neglects to mention that after a period of unemployment, these people drop from the statistics.  Many people in this country are collecting welfare not because they are injured or disabled, but because our system has become so broken that they can get away with not working!  Sorry, but planet earth doesn’t work that way.  An animal doesn’t sit around and wait for its food unless it lives in a zoo.  While humans are much more sophisticated and compassionate than your average cheetah, giving a homeless person a dollar doesn’t mean that you care.  It just means that you are enabling that person’s drug or alcohol addiction, but you want to feel good about yourself for having done a skin-deep “good” deed.  Want to do something nice for the homeless?  Donate to your local charity.  There are programs for the homeless to help them get back on their feet.  However, these places require that you stay DRUG-FREE while you are acquiring their free services.  You can help somebody, but you can’t change them.  You also can’t expect another person to change your life for you without putting in some amount of effort.

Political correctness…I don’t even know where to start.  It’s a complete media circus event.  It’s a way to sling mud at politicians, public figures, and has even descended upon schools.  Worst of all, it has changed the way people think, see themselves, and see others.  It seems that literally every walk of life sees itself as stigmatized.  I guess this will be known as the “Age of Victims”.  Bikers think they are being kept down when the city doesn’t build them a terrain park, people of different races think they deserve special treatment, and if your favorite movie series is Harry Potter instead of Lord of the Rings, you’re an idiot.  This illogical diarrhea we call political correctness is nothing more than an inflated sense of entitlement, and it’s a way to guilt others into giving you free stuff or giving you special treatment.  Many universities have started to accept certain percentages of students of each race.  I don’t care if your skin is the color of the rainbow; you are not better than me, and I’m not better than you.  The student with the best qualifications should get into the university.  If a university didn’t let me in, I could say “you just hate people of Irish decent!  You must be an Englishman!”  This wouldn’t make the university prejudiced, but I would sure look like a lazy idiot wanting an easy handout.  The size of my sophomore class at the University of Houston was about two-thirds the size of my freshman class if not less.  Diversity for the sake of diversity is stupid and pointless.  It also doesn’t help anyone.  You’ll just have a ton of freshman drop-outs.  The real solution is to prepare students for college with a proper high school education.  Teachers unions need to go.  They just keep schools uncompetitive, and teachers unmotivated to do their jobs well.

There’s this theory that competition is harsh and brutal.  Nope.  Competition brings the best out of individuals.  It causes them to push themselves and those around them, and elevates society as a whole.  In America, you have the right to succeed, but you also have the right to fail.  Even if you fail, I’ll bet that somebody helps you get back on your feet because there are a lot of great people and charity organizations out there.  Giving should not be mandatory because then it wouldn’t be “giving” in the first place; those are called taxes.

Many people think that a larger government is the way to ensure that we stay “safe” and “healthy.”  The truth is, you are basically giving your big, mean, stupid older brother a bigger club to beat you with.  By the way, those “evil” corporations are generally not evil; they consist of people just trying to make a living, and a few power-hungry goofballs.  If I had to pick between a society that’s regulated by bumbling government bureaucrats or a free society, I think I will choose freedom.  Take the pomp out of government, and you will see corruption drop like a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee.

The solution to all these problems is really simple.  Realize that nobody owes you anything, and also realize that you’re not a victim.  Everyone has challenges in life.  You can choose to either work toward overcoming the challenges, or sit around complaining.  Also, take the pomp out of government, and you will see corruption drop like a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee.  My dad “jokes” that Topeka sounds like a great place for the nation’s capital.  Well, who in the right mind would want to serve a term in Topeka?!  Maybe somebody interested in doing their job, and not so much concerned with the awesome Washington DC after-parties and bacon-wrapped shrimp with their fellow elite Congressmen.  Sorry…congress-people.

Poster Prints for Sale!

Hello everyone!  I’m selling lustre-finish posters of some of my aerial photos I’ve taken recently.  You can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LanceChilders?ref=search_shop_redirect or through PayPal by paying to goskate2live@yahoo.com.  They are $30 each, and if you need them shipped (outside of Houston, TX), it’s $5 per shipment.DCIM999GOPRO

18″x24″ lustre-finish poster of the Lee & Joe Jamail Skatepark at night

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18″x24″ lustre-finish poster of the Lone Star Pyramid at the Spring Skatepark, the largest public skatepark in the USA

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20″x20″ lustre-finish poster of the Texas Bowl at the Spring Skatepark, the largest public skatepark in the USA

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Poster loot!

Mother Nature Apologizes

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Mother Nature said “I’m sorry” for all the crappy weather, and gave Houston a nice display to end the day.  The only things missing were the shooting stars and unicorns.  I even saw a plane flying through it, but didn’t get to the scene in time.  That guy from Yosemite would have been freaking out over this.  DOUBLE RAINBOW!  MOON!

A Matter of Faith

Here is a message that I sent to the makers of “A Matter of Faith” which is about…well…guess from the picture:

Unknown

“It seems that this film unnecessarily pits science against Christianity. I’ve never understood what exactly about evolution is contradictory to what is written in the Bible. I come from a very scientific family: my grandfather was a chemist with over 20 patents, my father is a geologist, and my mother practices internal medicine. All are/were strong Christians.

I feel that this film at least in part, inaccurately depicts the Christian faith as a whole. God gave us intellect and reason so that we might gain more knowledge about the specifics of our creation. I am NOT questioning the source of all creation which is God, but I am simply pointing out that evolution is not the answer as to who created humans, it is simply a detailed answer as to HOW we were created.

You have to remember the genre, intended audience, and context of Bible passages. When Christians ignore these vital details, they can distort the meaning of the passage itself. I believe that this film is a troubling misinterpretation of Genesis. I also believe that it is not only a misinterpretation, but an example of man imposing their vision of how God created the universe upon others, rather than acknowledging the ample evidence that has been supplied to us. I don’t see why evolution has caused such an uproar since it’s such a small detail. However, what is VERY troubling is how some Christians have been so vocal about their rejection of anything scientific. It’s ironic, however, since the very definition is science is “the pursuit of truth.” In short, this film portrays Christians as irrational and superstitious. Those two words are the exact opposite of what Christianity is.”

Here is a great video with regards to HOW we should interpret Bible passages, and the problems that Christians create for themselves when they spread these misinterpretations.  Some would say that we shouldn’t care what others think of us.  I disagree on a certain level.  I agree that the world should not and cannot change Christianity in any way.  Period.  However, I believe that we should care how we are portrayed to the world:

Freedom is not Free

My thoughts on freedom in the United States and how I believe it is at risk

Lance Childers

I used to work with a Vietnamese man who was a civil engineer when the communists took over in Vietnam.  He and his family were held captive on a beach, but he was able to escape and make his way over to America with his family.  He had taped a small note to the window by his work station that read: “Freedom is not free”.

People like this KNOW what it means to be free because they know what it means to have it taken away.  I have never had my freedom taken from me, but I will not make the mistake of forgetting that I have it.  While most people are decent, there will always be those few who have the desire, ability, and means of gaining enough power to oppress others.  When left to their own devices, governments tend to take away the freedom of its citizens.  Many…

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