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Drone Threat

Old 19th Jan 2018, 20:23
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Drone Threat

I hesitate because I don't want to give "people" ideas but the increasing sophistication of do-it-yourself model aircraft, complete with autopilot and GPS, must be giving airlines the heeby jeebies. They don't have to carry an explosive payload to be dangerous either.

I keep wondering why all those "spotters' vantage points at/near airports aren't closed.
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Old 19th Jan 2018, 20:49
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I hesitate because I don't want to give "people" ideas but the increasing sophistication of home built aircraft, complete with autopilot and GPS, must be giving airlines the heeby jeebies. They don't have to carry an explosive payload to be dangerous either.

I keep wondering why all these general aviation airports aren't closed and home built aircraft banned.

Sunfish, seriously if you ban the spotters you lose the passive community surveillance that stops the bad guys from launching a drone from that vantage point.
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Old 20th Jan 2018, 00:22
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There are electronic means of guarding airports and other installations from unwanted drones. Punishing those who like to look at aircraft is not the answer. As stated they can be eyes and ears vs. problems and are generally supporters of the airport and aviation which is what we need...
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Old 20th Jan 2018, 00:36
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Bit of an oxymoron to mention GPS, autopilot and spotters car parks... you could launch a drone from anywhere First Person View. Anywhere is dangerous in theory... you can launch from 5kms or more away.
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Old 20th Jan 2018, 04:42
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Sorry Sunny, that horse bolted ages ago.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 05:36
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Airports are not the only place where drones can be an issue. Having said this, I am not 100% sure in this case the drone operator would have been at fault.

Wife and I were recently camped on the edge of the Menindee Lakes. Young fella camped next to us (about 100 metres away) wanders over, introduces himself and lets us know he has a drone and will be filming the lake, but will not fly over our camp, but might fly passed, and he will not film us. Quite a decent thing to do I thought. Got talking to him.... he shows me the drone...bl00dy small thing, weighs less than 2kg but has a heap of computing power by the sound of it. He tells me that he has some pre-set parameters for the drone flight... not above 300 feet and no further than 1km from the controller (I told him he must have good eye sight to see 1km) and he must see the drone at all times. But the pre-sets could be set to 6km in any direction...up or out. He had done some form if a 1/2 day training course in Canberra as part of the deal when he brought it.

Next morning sitting there watching him fly it over the Lake an next thing out of nowhere at scary feet above ground and just over the tree line zips a PA28 .... low enough that I could clearly see the drone ABOVE the A/C and see the PA28 pilot!!! The PA28 does a shallow bank and flies on along the foreshore blissfully unaware of how close he had been to a strike. I watched him follow the Lake for a bit. Not aware of any landing strips private or otherwise... mind you it is flat enough that anywhere could be considered a landing strip.... not saying there arent... but didnt see any attitude changes, I could see the flaps were up he was that low nor could I hear any power setting changes to suggest he was landing.... about 15 minutes later the PA28 flew the reverse course over our camp again at scary feet above ground back over trees and gone. He may well have landed near by..if he did his final was l o n g and low over a lot of water birds on one side.

The drone operator came over with drone in hand and footage of the PA28 under the drone. Best estimate is about 40 to 50 feet separation.

You would think out there, middle of nowhere you would be safe. Clearly not. Thinking about it has made me think about any areas I might fly that are scenic... look out for drones. Responsiblity rests primarily with the drone operators to maintain a visual of their equipment and follow the requirements of their flight envelope.... and the rest of us to try to see and avoid. With both parties also maintaining appropriate legal flight requirements.

There may have been a valid reason for such a low flight of the PA28, I dont know, my point is.... Drones are becoming something we must factor into our flying as far as situational awareness goes. They are gunna be hard to see and are gunna hurt when they hit.

All we can hope us that when there is a strike that no one is injured.

Last edited by Walking Ballast; 21st Jan 2018 at 06:41.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 09:26
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So if the PA28 hit the drone who is at fault?

Not the drone operator.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:17
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What if the pa28 was on final to a local field that doesn't appear on any of the VNC's or otherwise, or simply to land on the owners property or a property for which the pilot has written permission to land on?
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:18
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ZZZzzz .... birds? Eagles? Zzzzzzz, drones are old news. Take your chances below 500' around scenic spots if you like, your decision, your risk.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:27
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Originally Posted by Sunfish View Post
I keep wondering why all those "spotters' vantage points at/near airports aren't closed.
Aircraft have always attracted people and I expect they always will.

It would be a grossly ineffective use of police / security manpower to try to move on all and sundry from the perimeter of airports and beyond.

Approved viewing locations are a positive step towards bringing this this task within managable proportions through concentrating the spectators within limited areas. As "No One" points out the "rubber neck" brigade (of which I am one) are a good source for reporting any out of place activity. This is recognised by several police authorities within the UK who maintain formal programmes with the "spotter / photographer etc" communities to this end.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:30
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Originally Posted by The Banjo View Post
So if the PA28 hit the drone who is at fault?

Not the drone operator.
Yeah, not sure who would be at fault. Would have to be sorted out by people a lot smarter and paid a lot more money then me I guess.

I ask the room.... opinions?

From what I have saw at the time the young bloke was complying with the rules according to CASA. He was not above 400ft (I saw his iPad height restriction set at 90 metres vertical and 1000 metres horizontal) and in my opinion was flying the drone in a manner that did not create a hazard to other aircraft (as in did not expect an aircraft to be flying that low over trees/water/campsites/waterbirds on the lake, hence would not assume to be flying the drone in a manner hazardous to other aircraft) and I dont believe he had enough warning to take appropriate action after becoming aware of the other aircraft entering the drones air space and area of operation - it happened that fast he had little time to do anything, the PA28 was over us with little warning... the engine noise masked behind the trees. He did land immediately after the event and came straight over.... he was visibly shaken up. He told me he would pack the thing away and not fly it again there.... I cant comment any further if he did or did not, we moved on that afternoon.

I have no idea on who would be at fault if there was a collision and the PA28 was taken out of the air.

Is this something we should now expect as the norm over siteseeing areas.... hard to see, slow to react drones.

Should not be a problem for most of us. Where we will run into issues would be those that are low level endorsed (and I would assume the PA28 driver would be out there) and drone operators that exceed their 400ft limit with little or no regard to others.

Sadly, I think we will find out sooner rather than later.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:31
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As a matter of interest the closest thing to approved viewing locations at Melbourne's Tullamarine are littered with used syringes. You wouldn't want to take your young kids there despite the Mr. Whippy van being enticing :-(
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:36
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Originally Posted by StickWithTheTruth View Post
What if the pa28 was on final to a local field that doesn't appear on any of the VNC's or otherwise, or simply to land on the owners property or a property for which the pilot has written permission to land on?
I would imagine it's just like any other traffic that's not on the radio (whether they be full-size aircraft, drones, birds, tall trees, free helium balloons, etc). Keep a good lookout and try not to hit anything.

If you do have a collision, and both parties were obeying all relevant rules then it's simply a no-fault accident.


TBM-Legend - with regards to electronic means of keeping unwanted drones away, my understanding is that this is largely limited to preventing inadvertent airspace incursions. If someone actually wants to fly their drone over an airport, then they can just set it up to be fully GPS-guided. No way to prevent that without jamming GPS around the airport, which is obvious impractical.

I'm much more concerned about full-size aircraft than drones - I've had or seen more close encounters with those than I'm comfortable with, and a collision with even the lightest RA plane is definitely going to be bad news.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 10:41
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I ask the room.... opinions?
Opinions are like ....... everyone has one.

Trust me, drone pilots don't want their toys taken out by errant aircraft, they take some care. We are at the beginning of a new era, soon it will be drone drivers complaining about aircraft. Like I said previously, the horse has already bolted. Drones are in, manned aircraft are old history.

So sorry .... Sad too.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 13:11
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G'day Bob,

How much an hour do ya reckon for a drone 'pilot' to do the work (aerial photos etc etc) of a real GA machine + pilot.. ??

Like yergoodself, I fear its already happening...

No cheers....
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 18:43
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With drones, it's not just a cost saving on pilot or machine, it's also no airways fees or landing fees. No transit times (flying to or from job site). Initial outlay for equipment probably only a single digit percentage cost of a full size aircraft. Pilot training/legal stuff probably a similar percentage and maintenance costs near zero. Bit of electricity for your batteries and off you go.
Saw a promo about drones in Dubai a while back. Apparently drones were being looked at for solar panel and high rise building exterior inspections because it was cheaper then having crews manually climb and physically inspect the panels and buildings.

Real estate agents love em. Lots aerial photos in the local paper.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 18:56
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Drones are already destroying the helicopter filming industry. A $1500 drone can arguably do a better job that a $1,000 an hour Jetranger with $500,000 camera fitted.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 20:28
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My opinion? The closed shop protection racket of "Fee and Reward" is going to cop a beating.

If the parliamentarians ever sniff a vote in this, Iron ring or not, CASA is on a losing hand. CASA will have a hard time of it trying to convince parliamentarians a drone operator that is uploading drone derived video to Youtube is a threat to safety.
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Old 21st Jan 2018, 21:07
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A few have been "spoken to" by the FAA in the USA as they have "monetized" (videos with adverts) YouTube channels and they use drones for some of their footage, thus they become a commercial operator.

Therefore in theory anyone with homemade videos from a GoPro or similar in their cockpit are theoretically at risk in Australia. The tricky part is that you don't start getting paid until some 4,000 hours of video viewing under the new terms and conditions on YouTube, however youtube gets the advertising credit.... so, long story short, you're a private pilot who made a video for fun and posted it to YouTube and YouTube makes asvertising coin from it.... are you commercially operating by default???
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Old 22nd Jan 2018, 00:06
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Jeezus..here we go again.!!

'a private pilot who made a video for fun...makes advertising coin from it...are you operating commercially'. Is that a problem ????

Pray tell, WTF has making money from pix, video, whatever, using a drone ( or an aircraft ) got to do with ' Safety'.
As long as any operation is conforming with flight rules. licencing and maintenance then that should be the end of it .
Your business and income for any imagery is the business of no-one else including CAsA

Wasnt that long ago P Gibson, CAsA spin doctor and bs master, was slagging off estate agents and threatening prosecution if they didnt 'cease and desist' using drones for images to enhance a property's sales potential. Not for sale FFS, but to use in their business of selling houses.! But thats bureaurats for ya.!
Illegal Control Freaks.
Now of course, everyone is doing it so that has all fallen off the CAsA table.

On another note,,THINK before you fly...
Young guy just busted ($600, no conviction) for flying drone video of the local calaboose. Nothing bad intended, just curious...but not the place to be 'curious' about
No restricted area ?? No height busts...just the 'authorities' very sensitive about it, not surprisingly.
Cop that, and play with yr new toy elsewhere ..!

As for 'photographers', whether the camera is on a 3' tripod, a 100' ladder or 300' AGL in a drone, they have a right to take a pic from a public space...and earn a living .
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