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Drones threatening commercial a/c?

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Drones threatening commercial a/c?

Old 28th Nov 2014, 20:29
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Do you worry about meteor strikes too?

To worry is satisfying when one feels they can do nothing.

The way forward is to address any enhancement to our life while at the same time keeping in balance with everyday risks.

Sticking to the aviation side of things, we do have some basis for measurements and that doesn't mean counting bodies as an end result. Instead we choose measurement standards typically in the minor consequence range working up to more severe.

Even in the realm of human error in our aviation lives we accept some risk and certainly react to any incidents of more severe nature. We haven't banned the human from the machine, yet, because of a few incidents.

So I am quite willing to let things develop towards measurements of this risk before I support any rulings against its expansion.

And I certainly won't react to a "I told you so" prediction not based on vetted data.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 00:08
  #82 (permalink)  
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Capot, you are late there have already been arrests for using 'model aircraft' to attack various targets:

Man, 26, charged in plot to bomb Pentagon using model airplane - CNN.com


Moroccan man 'planned to fly model planes packed with bombs into school' | Daily Mail Online

These of course are fixed targets and therefore far simpler than attempting to hit an airliner which is actually surprisingly difficult with a UAS that is probably capable of less than 25% of the speed of an aircraft on approach. I think that such collisions are more likely to be accidental.

There are RTCA and EASA working groups developing requirements for management of UAS and for DAA and the associated datalink requirements for BLOS and control operations. Research is also in hand on how to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. To some extent SESAR is a little more advanced as the individual countries within ECAC (European Civil Aviation Conference) that is the states that within EUROCONTROL - are all making independent approaches to UAS.

Generally the UAS seem to be falling into 3 groups:
* Large 'toys' being used for fun or low grade commercial purposes
* UAS under 55 pounds that are used for professional or 'state' purposes
* UAS above 55 pounds all the way up to full sized aircraft a UAS conversion of the F16, Global Hawk and many many others.

The problem area is the 'large toys'. Especially now the media have got involved publicizing them and the manufacturing of them is so cheap and easy. The last two groups will follow all the regulations, the first group will be flown by some who do not even know such regulations exist and wouldn't care even if they were told.
Anyone who thinks this is going to be an easy area to regulate just has not been involved with what is going on. Professionals in the small UAS group below 55 pounds are extremely concerned that they will be regulated out of the market due to the actions of the large-toy group of idiots.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 03:47
  #83 (permalink)  
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UAV as Weapon

The controllers and airframes are getting ever cheaper, more popular and easier to fly.

There's folks getting hit by Predators who would love to get one of their own in the air and hitting targets.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 07:38
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Realistically, I think it is very likely that at some point in the near future an airliner on approach or departure will hit a UAV.

There are two factors that will affect the damage this will cause.
1. Size
2. Where it hits.

The vast majority of the cheap toys that are now available are less massive than the larger birds that the aircraft already have to deal with day in day out. (to give you an idea, a goose can be 9Kg. The cheap small UAVs tend to be <1.5Kg) Yes a goose or Buzzard will make a dent in the metalwork or possibly even take out an engine, but the aircraft is specifically designed to survive such a strike. Bird strikes on military jets at high speed and low level are a bit more dramatic, but at approach speeds <250kts (not many baby UAVs getting above that) not a show stopper.
Birds do occasionally take down an airliner, but almost always through multiple ingestion into multiple engines.
I feel I should point out that the sky is literally teeming with birds, yet we don't hit that many.
I suspect we will see a few paint scrapes and the occasional trashed engine.
The bigger toys are a lot more complex and difficult to get hold of, and just like a Cessna should need a license to operate, but don't get carried away with the little toys.

The effort it takes to get hold of and operate a UAV capable of carrying a useful terrorist payload is vastly more than the effort to get hold of an SAM in the current climate.
Why would they bother? Yes to bomb a target, but not to hit an aircraft. Its just silly.

Last edited by Tourist; 29th Nov 2014 at 07:52.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 07:54
  #85 (permalink)  
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This interesting article from Slate addresses the "monkey with a quadcopter" issue pretty well.

Best drone gifts: DJI Phantom, Parrot AR, Rolling Spider reviewed.

I again followed the steps in the Quick Start Guide—calibrating, starting the propellers, nudging the drone into the air with the joystick. The events that followed are seared into my brain like freeze frames from a car accident. The drone zoomed to a height of 50 feet or so, far above the top of that tall chain-link fence I’d been counting on to limit potential damage. The airborne monster did not respond to my frantic jiggling of the joystick, or to my plaintive cries of “Come back!” Instead it rose and rose—and then suddenly rocketed sidewise at alarming velocity. I watched in terror as it flew across a busy street and crashed into the third story of a tall building. It tumbled to the sidewalk with a clatter of broken, scattering plastic.
“The most dangerous thing in that box is the Quick Start Guide,” says Peter Sachs, a drone advocate and the founder of the Drone Law Journal. “There should be no such thing..."
Interesting, too, is the reference above to the Drone Law Journal:

Drone Law Journal | Legal News & Info About Drones, UAVs and Remote-Controlled Model Aircraft by Peter Sachs, Esq.

If nothing else, it's good that this conversation is taking place and raising awareness of the issues.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 09:24
  #86 (permalink)  
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Assessing the potential damage to a jet engine is all good and well. But what about us pilots in the little Cessnas and Pipers? I would really not like to have a drone coming through the front, into the prop or for that matter anywhere on my fragile little bird. This is like "asymmetric warfare". For the "droneys", the risk is small, because the worst thing that can happen to them is that they will have to buy a new one. We may pay with our life. In the end, will we just have to accept the risk or stop flying?

I know this thread is about "commercial a/c", but nothing prevents a small aircraft from being flown commercially.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 13:05
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Yes, you have rather more to worry about, but it is still no different from hitting a bird, and rather less likely.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 20:57
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Birds are red herrings

Birds, even the adolescent, inbred, or perspectiveless ones, are not going to be as imbecile as to seek proximity to an airliner. Wish the same could be said about humans and their appendages.

Tourist, your mostly consistent and argument-based writing was about to gain you some air supremacy for what it's worth. Yet, there seems to be more than just playing devils advocate in the vigor of follow-up.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that life should remain somewhat dangerous, and that it's better to peg out on one's peak rather than being switched off after years of machine life. That's an individual choice.

Trouble is, in most cases one does not fly alone aboard a plane - if you (knowing) are one of 300 (unknowing), you can unfortunately not choose to confine the slightly higher risk that you are willing to take to yourself. If you make the call for all, accept higher risks for the whole load, are you not patronizing them (as oblivious as they might be)?

Knowing better for others is not what you want to promote?
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 04:22
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It's not about being deliberately dangerous, it's about the law of diminishing returns.

There are always those who say "you can't put a price on life" but thankfully they are rarely allowed to be in charge of anything.

Somebody has to make sensible decisions about risk.

For the NHS it is NICE.
They quite literally put a price on life. They decide whether a particular treatment is worth the price.

Aviation has a similar requirement.
Thankfully, they do not require the safest option, merely safe enough.
That is why all passengers do not have an ejection seat. It is technically possible, just as it is possible to ban all UAVs, it's just not sensible.

p.s. Birds might not seek proximity, but neither do they avoid! I know this from experience having hit somewhere over a hundred of the things! (Admittedly most were in one go!)
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 07:36
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Up to a year ago drug smugglers were buying all helicopters available to get cocaine and other drugs into south Spain trough the strait of gibraltar. Since one year ago the use big drones, Amazon got late into door to door delivery busniness.

So, how do you deal with That?
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 11:48
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Transilvana, it's not just Gibraltar:

Borderland Beat: Mexican Cartel Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Narco Drones)

Mexico’s drug cartels are reportedly commissioning custom-made drones to transport narcotics across the US border, illustrating the continual development of innovative new technologies and methods used to traffic drugs.

While cartels used to use foreign-made drones, the new reliance on home-grown technology and construction is more cost-effective -- the method is cheaper than the construction of cross-border tunnels or the use of semi-submersible vessels, according to El Universal's report.

Mexican criminal organizations have been using UAVs since at least 2010, but the relatively small amount of drugs transported per trip on the drones registered by the DEA helps explain why the cartels want to develop larger, specially tailored UAVs. As drone technology worldwide becomes increasingly accessible and cost effective, commissioning custom-made drones in Mexico is the next logical step for cartels.
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 14:45
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Being a "total airspace user" as a ret. airline cpt, occasional glider pilot, active GA pilot(instructor) and very active model airplane enthusiast (yes up to 55 lbs models like tugs and gliders) I know those worlds hands on. In fact my career started with model airplanes, as it did with hundreds of colleagues I met during my aviation career. I will hopefully be able to keep on model flying till my time has come.

All my aviation life I have benefited from it, the knowledge, the mental hardening recovering from setbacks (as You sat near the remains of a model that cost either a lot of money and/or years to build), the experience in awkward situations like what to do with a tail heavy plane....They were like simulators for my aviation career and did part of my personal mental build up. It brings me a large social network, in my country, throughout Europe and the world.

In terms of an "aviation ladder" the model pilots would be all the way down, not only in airspace usage, but from "high" cockpits like airliners and military jets some people think they have the only right to use airspace. Some GA pilots look down on gliders, gliders look down on paragliders etc and ALL look down on model aviation.

It is hobby, I and (worldwide) hundred thousands other users have the right to have some share of that VAST volume of airspace, which btw. is not "full" as sometimes is stated by people that mostly do NOT fly themselves. I regularly fly in a GA plane over one hour w/o seeing ANYTHING other like birds. And my eyes are still good! And over the years I DID see a few models flying, as I know many model flying sites and am looking for it to see if someone is flying. No danger involved, not even by a long shot.

I am dismayed about the fact that in this thread many pilots cry out for a complete ban, only because of the illegal/criminal use of it, which no legislation in the world will ever stop. Apart from the millions of drones that are already flying about worldwide (from small toy-like stuff to bigger ones), is a trend You cannot stop anymore.

And alas mostly the negative aspect is mentioned here.

By getting a complete ban You would:
  • Take away the hobby of those hundred thousands of hobbyists.
  • This hobby is a breeding ground for people that get into aviation as a mechanic or pilot. Or any other technically inclined profession. Tomorrow's engineers. Some governments (the military parts) have some form of supporting in this scene, as they do with gliding. THEY recognize the spin off.
  • Take away an industry which is still in its infancy, with all the many goodies and a few bad sides. The possibilities of this technology is just about endless, weekly I read about new developments. Like this one, in an artform:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YqU...ature=youtu.be

You would make Yourself ridiculous in trying to ban all those "models" ranging from a few grammes that can be flown indoors, to large 55 lbs models. Where to put the dividing line between toys and more serious stuff? Speed, impact energy, engine power, rotor diameter, weight, wingspan?

Model aviation, I would say the type of hobby which has started shortly before WW2, is no danger at all for other airspace users. Most model pilots are organised and know where and when NOT to fly. The last thing a model pilot will do is risk his model in ANY collision! No matter what. Even a near miss could be bad for him and his club.

I do NOT talk about professional "drone" pilots. It will take a few years, then regulators will have devised reasonable rules for them. At the moment many countries still have none, or are in the making, or have made them so draconian, it is easier to start a sight seeing company with a Cessna 172. The result is there is a lot of aerial work being done by drone pilots without any license.
Now who is stupid here?

Of course, there is a new group of "drone" pilots born over the last 2-3 years. Many have no roots in "classic" model aviation. Don't accept, abide or know about rules. Do not use any intelligence in deciding where and when not to fly. That group poses the biggest risk and believe me, we are worried about them maybe even more that You do, as some desk guy might decide stringent rules for all of us, that would take out our freedoms we have always been so careful with.

I do not want to criticize the reported "sightings" (of which only a few can be seen as a near miss), nor I do want to exonerate idiots that fly close to a descending or climbing airplane, but I have the feeling that suddenly anything is being reported. At the same time, today there must have been some XX birdstrikes worldwide, hundreds of bird near misses that don't even get reported, and millions of birds must have been "sighted".

I have during the course of 17 years of airline captaincy always thought my job was about risk management. You cannot live, and even less fly, without any form of risk.
The chance You will have a collision with a "drone" is just about non existent compared to the bird strike risk.

And remember, in the hands of one really sick guy, just about anything can be used as a murder weapon, how many people have already been killed by a hockey or baseball stick, way easier!
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 18:22
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Beautifully put.
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 20:26
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Excellent post Double Back
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 22:35
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analogy to weapons?

I wonder if this would help? A few years ago "airsoft" or plastic BB handguns, rifles and even machine guns started to become popular, which were so realistic that they were indistinguishable from the real thing.
The response was to legislate that those sold over the counter had to have 50% of their material made of fluorescent material, so that they could be seen as "toys". Other ones could be kept fully realistic, but they could only be bought if the purchaser could prove he belonged to a gun or skirmish club.
Would it be possible to legislate so that multi-rotors capable of carrying an external camera or FPV equipment could only be sold on production of proof of model club membership?
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Old 30th Nov 2014, 23:01
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Would it be possible to legislate so that multi-rotors capable of carrying an external camera or FPV equipment could only be sold on production of proof of model club membership?
Not in the US. Model clubs have no particular legal status, here, and setting up a regulatory framework for model clubs would be even harder than trying to regulate drones. Besides, just as you figure out how to regulate "multi-rotors", someone will start selling single-rotors. Or maybe ducted-fans. One thing that becomes clear with time is that the effort to classify banned items only generates new items outside the banned list.
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Old 1st Dec 2014, 11:56
  #97 (permalink)  
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some useful reading:
2015 The Year of the Drone | Best Quadcopters | Quadcopter Reviews | RC Quadcopters for Sale | Drones
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Old 1st Dec 2014, 16:49
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Double Back,
Thank you from another RC modeler, well said
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Old 1st Dec 2014, 17:06
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Double Back,
Very well said. I have a similar aviation background to you and have flown models for over 40 years. There has to be a sense of proportion in these discussions - not hysteria.
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 07:49
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Several interest links in this article:


Apparently, there is a Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College:

Center for the Study of the Drone | at Bard College

Also, this bit of info:

Reports of drones flying dangerously close to passenger aircraft are becoming a daily occurrence, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The incursions have been mostly at low altitudes as planes were on final approach to landing, but some have occurred at cruising altitudes as high as 10,000 feet.
It also seems that Martha Stewart is a big drone fan now:

Martha Stewart: Why I Love My Drone

Other interesting info as the world struggles to figure this all out.
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