Why do I have to be a pilot? -explained

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I do I have to be a pilot to fly my UAS/UAV/Drone?

For now hobbyist can fly their drones but the time is coming where this flying is going to be more regulated. Currently only commercial UAS operators need to be a pilot. The day might come where the hobbyist will be very restricted to their flying activities. Here’s a reason why.

First a little explanation on being a FAA pilot. A pilot has proven they understand all of the aircraft systems, FAA regulations and guidelines and can handle the aircraft in any configuration under any circumstance. It sound simple but you have to study and practice for hours. It is far more complex then driving cars high-speed on a congested highway while be distracted with your cellphone. One does not just choose to go out and get their pilot license like they can do with an automobile. They must prove they are capable and worthy to fly as a pilot by a written and practical tests. It’s defiantly not for the masses.

OK so why does this apply to drones. Under the Federal ruling a UAV is not a model aircraft but an actual aircraft and thus the rules of the aircraft apply. You can fly a UAV like a model aircraft but then you need to adhere to the rules for model aircrafts. Outside modeling you should think of it as an actual aircraft –not a cool toy.

The FAA has jurisdiction over the National Air Space (NAS) but not the airspace outside your back door? Or do they? The FAA regulate where aircraft fly and how close they can fly around us. In short 500’ from and person, place or thing. So you might think you have up to 400’ in your backyard to keep a 100’ separation from your UAS and the NAS. However the NAS includes the airspace where the aircraft lands and departs or what we know as airports.

So now you launch your drone/aircraft from your backyard. Technically the NAS is now in your backyard and you should not be in the NAS unless you meet the requirements of the FAA.

This is the area that is up for debate. I’d like to suggest anyone serious about flying drones to start studying pilot rules and regulation. If this is too much then consider yourself a UAV hobbyist and not a UAV pilot. There is a difference.

In 2015 400,000 consumer drones are being sold with no training required. Let’s think of these numbers in other scenarios.

  • 400,000 new gun owners with no age restriction or training or
  • 400,000 new auto drivers with no ages and training restrictions or
  • 400,000 new boat owners with no age or training restrictions
Any of these would be a huge problem to our society and so are the drones.

In order for us to enjoy the UAV hobby/flying long-term we all need to be students and take responsibility to educate ourselves and operate our equipment safe and responsibly.

Burke

Please let me know if I have improper information. I'm not a regulator but a PP, A&P and avid UAV owner.
 
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I'd be curious what makes up that 400,000 number when it comes to "drone" sales. Are there two "drones" in this photo? If so, that number, in the context of regulation, is clearly misleading - one could take down an airplane, the other probably couldn't take down a bumble bee.



I'm not criticizing or disagreeing with the need for regulation, until the proliferation of multirotors, the majority of RC aircraft in the sky were light balsa and tissue models, now the majority are probably solid, multi-pound chunks of plastic. I'm just leery of overly vague statistics being used to sensationalize the real or perceived risk driving the need for regulation.
 
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The 400k was an article I came across- sorry I don't have it to quote. However check out
Drone Sales Numbers: Nobody Knows, So We Venture A Guess - DRONELIFE

From this I would gather the 400k# is low for DJI and 3DR together for 2015. So lets just say 400K there about for micro AV - the one on the left weighing 4.4 lbs or less not the nano-drone on the right.

The need of regulation is proportional to ignorance. A fraction of a % of drone operators will ruin it for all of us. I believe a educated consumer is a good consumer - that's my main point. My personal views for regulations needed is so every numb nut doesn't have a right to jump into the airspace. People drive in the left lane without passing another vehicle because of the lack of understanding the basic rules for traffic flow efficiency and because they can. Airspace regulations typically have a logical meaning for the rules put in place. This is why we have the safest airspace in the world. We should be visualizing what the future airspace will be wither it is a amazon autonomous delivery drone or me taking off in my back yard riding a hover-bike to work.

The message should really be
"Know before you fly"
 
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The FAA currently requires you to be a licensed pilot to obtain a 333 exemption to fly commercially. Their reasoning is that pilots understand the rules for flight op's, like how close you can fly to an airport without contacting the tower, etc.
I think when they issue their regulation, this requirement will be eliminated but they might require some basic training in the "rules of the road".

I think they would like to regulate everybody- too difficult to regulate everybody, so they regulate those used commercially. Much easier to take enforcement action against a business owner who has something to lose.
Just my 2 cents...
 
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So if I am a pilot, and I understand all the rules and regs...I've proven my technical ability to fly a manned aircraft etc. Why then do I not get any other permissions other than commercial flight via a 333 exemption?

If the logic is that a uav is in fact an aircraft, why then are the regs so restrictive. And like you said, and we all know, its going to be that one dumb kid that screws it up for all of us. Odds are it won't be a licensed pilot with a 333 that is flying too close to an airport. So do these regs make us any safer? Maybe marginally.

I've considered pilot training, etc, but can't rationalize the cost considering the upcoming regs may change everything. My take is simple. Government sucks at virtually everything, and acts only when they absolutely have to. They are treading water and obviously don't know what to do. Just look at the delays in the regs.

Don't misinterpret. I'm all for safe flight, following regs etc. But the current situation does little but inhibit the people that could make a little money on the side from doing so. Hopefully the new regs aren't too restrictive, and allow a more practical avenue for those of us who wish to make money at this.
 
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I wish there was an emoji for rolling eyes. Flying a UAV that fits into the definition for section 333 is nothing like flying a manned aircraft. Aditionally, the gap between manned and unmannd flight grows every day with the advancement of UAV technology. The operational restrictions for commercial flight of a UAV are basically the same as the recreational use. A commercial operator doesn't need to know about half the things a pilot needs to know. My thought has always been that the faa made the rule about needing to be a pilot just to raise the barrier to entry.... They can get anything they want as long as its in the name of safety.
 
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Calling a drone operator a "drone pilot" is like calling me a firefighter because I put out a small fire with my piss.
Other than knowing how to operate your copter, everything you need to know to fly safely consists of a few bullet points. There are already laws in the books covering most of what people are worried about including peeping tom laws, personal injury, property damage, trespassing, rights to privacy, etc. The biggest danger is colliding with an aircraft or crashing into a crowd. So maybe the only law we need is something strict enough to discourage drone operators from colliding with aircraft and crowds.
 
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SloppyDingo...Thats exactly my point. They are treating uav's as aircraft thus requiring a pilots license. The fact that the restrictions are nearly identical is the point I was trying to illustrate. I'm willing to get "checked out" I'm just of the opinion that I shouldn't need to verify my skills in a manned aircraft to fly my solo uav for a few bucks here an the there. But unfortunately thats the world I live in until the faa makes up their mind. cheers
 
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SloppyDingo...Thats exactly my point. They are treating uav's as aircraft thus requiring a pilots license. The fact that the restrictions are nearly identical is the point I was trying to illustrate. I'm willing to get "checked out" I'm just of the opinion that I shouldn't need to verify my skills in a manned aircraft to fly my solo uav for a few bucks here an the there. But unfortunately thats the world I live in until the faa makes up their mind. cheers
From what I've read on the subject, the FAA is probably going to drop the licensed pilot requirement- but who knows when it will happen.:eek:
 
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I'm and engineer and former private pilot (with no current medical, nor license). Do not have a part 333 exemption either.

Question: If I take my UAS/drone out to shoot some videos, say of a business that want's aerial footage captured of their property, and I hand them a DVD that we agreed for 'donation only', am I within the regulations? I have a large truck sales dealer that wants me to bring Solo and video his lot.

I would assume if God forbid I have a fly-away and property damage occurs, then I'm really screwed without liability insurance.

"even Eisenstein could not keep an accurate personal bank balance..."

Cheers
 
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I'm and engineer and former private pilot (with no current medical, nor license). Do not have a part 333 exemption either.

Question: If I take my UAS/drone out to shoot some videos, say of a business that want's aerial footage captured of their property, and I hand them a DVD that we agreed for 'donation only', am I within the regulations? I have a large truck sales dealer that wants me to bring Solo and video his lot.

I would assume if God forbid I have a fly-away and property damage occurs, then I'm really screwed without liability insurance.

"even Eisenstein could not keep an accurate personal bank balance..."

Cheers
If you're not doing it for money and you have permission you should be fine. I would think with their permission, they would assume any liability if something were to happen.....

same here, former private pilot, out of date medical and noncurrent license.
The last entry in my log book was an incentive flight in an F-16D model when I was in the AF. The pilot let me log it as co-pilot, 1.5 hours
 
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If you're not doing it for money and you have permission you should be fine. I would think with their permission, they would assume any liability if something were to happen.....

same here, former private pilot, out of date medical and noncurrent license.
The last entry in my log book was an incentive flight in an F-16D model when I was in the AF. The pilot let me log it as co-pilot, 1.5 hours
First, thank you for your service. That is one hell of a fighter and my favorite. I designed and built military WST's, Full Flight, etc. starting out with a 'smokey joe' F-4 sim, then onto F/A-16's, F/A-18's etc. for 25 years. Although never actually flew the F/A-16 personally, it's my favorite after latest Block upgrades. F/A-18 had it beat for avionics for a while, but love my 16's. Still have flight manuals, DASH-1's and references, even enough cockpit panels, instruments, HOTAS throttle and stick assemblies, etc. in storage to build a F/A-16D flight sim for home use. Used to fly Falcon sim all the time at home, 4 hour CAP's, etc. Man, just to fly a real one would really be a bucket list item brother! Pleased to meet ya.

As far as the 'legals', I might go for it today - for 'free' and gas money.

Stay and fly safe.

Cheers
 
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Chip, here is a pull from the faa's website of faq on 333 exemptions.

Do I need a Section 333 grant of exemption if I'm not charging for my services?
A. Unless you are flying only for hobby or recreational purposes, you will need FAA authorization via a Section 333 grant of exemption to fly your unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for your business. This applies even if you are only flying to supplement or aide your business and not charging fees for doing so.

Pretty vague. I'm in the same boat and trying to figure out what to do. I think it ultimately boils down to what the business does with the footage you shot. If they use it for a tv spot, then it would seem that the FAA has a valid case to come after you. But its way more complex than that. What if they use it to play on a loop in say the dealership's show room. Or what about a youtube video that is not a sales pitch but could be deemed promotional in nature.

I agree with Raybro, if you are smart about what you do I would think you should be fine. However there doesn't seem to be a clear line on this.

At what point am I not flying ONLY for hobby or recreational purposes? I would think that the FAA would have to prove that the footage I shot directly benefited the client. That could be kind of hard to prove. The real problem I have is, that I think the fines start around 10k. That would likely bankrupt me.

Doesn't seem quite right that I can do it for "hobby or recreational purposes" but sharing my footage could result in serious penalties. That's why I downplay the its for everyone's safety argument.

If safety was the motivating factor behind these burdensome regulations, I think the process would look much different. Why not make the proper training more assessable for the masses. It seems to me that having more people educated and trained properly would be far more effective than ratcheting the process down so that only those who can really afford it get the training. Meanwhile alowing every Tom, Dick and Hairy to do essentially what ever they choose to do with their new "toy" from BB.

It just doesn't add up to me. Hopefully the fine folks at the FAA get their act together soon.
 
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Chip, here is a pull from the faa's website of faq on 333 exemptions.

Do I need a Section 333 grant of exemption if I'm not charging for my services?
A. Unless you are flying only for hobby or recreational purposes, you will need FAA authorization via a Section 333 grant of exemption to fly your unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for your business. This applies even if you are only flying to supplement or aide your business and not charging fees for doing so.

Pretty vague. I'm in the same boat and trying to figure out what to do. I think it ultimately boils down to what the business does with the footage you shot. If they use it for a tv spot, then it would seem that the FAA has a valid case to come after you. But its way more complex than that. What if they use it to play on a loop in say the dealership's show room. Or what about a youtube video that is not a sales pitch but could be deemed promotional in nature.

I agree with Raybro, if you are smart about what you do I would think you should be fine. However there doesn't seem to be a clear line on this.

At what point am I not flying ONLY for hobby or recreational purposes? I would think that the FAA would have to prove that the footage I shot directly benefited the client. That could be kind of hard to prove. The real problem I have is, that I think the fines start around 10k. That would likely bankrupt me.

Doesn't seem quite right that I can do it for "hobby or recreational purposes" but sharing my footage could result in serious penalties. That's why I downplay the its for everyone's safety argument.

If safety was the motivating factor behind these burdensome regulations, I think the process would look much different. Why not make the proper training more assessable for the masses. It seems to me that having more people educated and trained properly would be far more effective than ratcheting the process down so that only those who can really afford it get the training. Meanwhile alowing every Tom, Dick and Hairy to do essentially what ever they choose to do with their new "toy" from BB.

It just doesn't add up to me. Hopefully the fine folks at the FAA get their act together soon.
If you shoot the video, and somebody puts "cash-ola" in your pocket then you fall into the commercial use category.

But like you said, proving you got paid could be difficult. If you are operating a business that does drone photography, you probably should have the exemption. It's my understanding that enforcement, for now, is going to be driven by complaints from the public.

I really don't think an FAA "G-man" is going to be cruisin the net looking for businesses to check.
 
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Calling a drone operator a "drone pilot" is like calling me a firefighter because I put out a small fire with my piss.
Other than knowing how to operate your copter, everything you need to know to fly safely consists of a few bullet points. There are already laws in the books covering most of what people are worried about including peeping tom laws, personal injury, property damage, trespassing, rights to privacy, etc. The biggest danger is colliding with an aircraft or crashing into a crowd. So maybe the only law we need is something strict enough to discourage drone operators from colliding with aircraft and crowds.
RC pilots have been called "RC Pilots" since the hobby started.
We should all be pilots.
Last week on the PhantomPilots forum someone was complaining about how useless the AMA is (a somewhat common but erroneous belief among PhantomPilots). A member said he went ahead and joined the AMA, and then joined a local flying club. He showed up at the field and before he could fly they wanted him to demonstrate that he can control his aircraft (common at all flying fields) by flying a circle and a figure 8 with his drone. He couldn't do either pattern and became very upset because the flying club didn't buy his line that drones "are linear flyers" and not meant to perform arcing maneuvers...
I responded that we should ALL have the basic abilities to fly a circle and a figure 8, and if we can't demonstrate that control we should be grounded. I was shocked at the negative reaction to that statement, and the number of drone "operators" who said they couldn't fly a circle or a figure 8 either, and didn't see a need to do so...
Those are not pilots, and they probably never will be.
The skill to fly your aircraft under most any conditions and in any situation, and maintain control is what differentiates a "pilot" from an "operator."
When I pilot my aircraft, I am just that - a pilot.
And calling myself that has nothing to do with an over inflated ego, or the lack thereof.
 
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RC pilots have been called "RC Pilots" since the hobby started.
We should all be pilots.
Last week on the PhantomPilots forum someone was complaining about how useless the AMA is (a somewhat common but erroneous belief among PhantomPilots). A member said he went ahead and joined the AMA, and then joined a local flying club. He showed up at the field and before he could fly they wanted him to demonstrate that he can control his aircraft (common at all flying fields) by flying a circle and a figure 8 with his drone. He couldn't do either pattern and became very upset because the flying club didn't buy his line that drones "are linear flyers" and not meant to perform arcing maneuvers...
Hammer meets nail. Very well said. Being a former pilot, I can understand all the so called "hoopla" surrounding our craft. Would more than be willing to demonstrate flying skills and aircraft control, no matter the size. Been there, done that. Nothing against new guy's and wanting to get flying, but do join the AMA and go to a local flying field and meet some folks, it's good for the head... Just be ready for some 'anti-drone' old timers... however I'm an old timer too, and be polite and explain what Solo is, what it does, do a pre-flight checklist with them watching you, shown written in your log book - you do have a flight log book for your Solo? I hope so. Explain the software, do a auto RTH/demo of the Solo, etc.. Makes some more friends, real quick.

Cheers
 
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My mother-in-law is a certified pilot. The other day I offered to let her fly the Solo, she looked at me and said "I have no idea how to fly that thing" I'd wager the public is much safer with myself behind the controls than with her. .. even though I could technically apply for my 333 exemption and have her be my pilot.
 
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My mother-in-law is a certified pilot. The other day I offered to let her fly the Solo, she looked at me and said "I have no idea how to fly that thing" I'd wager the public is much safer with myself behind the controls than with her. .. even though I could technically apply for my 333 exemption and have her be my pilot.
Yep, I experienced something similar. A good friend of mine who is a commercial pilot wanted to learn how to fly rc. I offered to teach him so we went out to the field. No matter how I explained it to him, he just couldn't take himself out of the airplane. Not saying pilots can't fly RC or uavs but its deffinatly not a direct skill crossover.
 
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Yep, I experienced something similar. A good friend of mine who is a commercial pilot wanted to learn how to fly rc. I offered to teach him so we went out to the field. No matter how I explained it to him, he just couldn't take himself out of the airplane. Not saying pilots can't fly RC or uavs but its deffinatly not a direct skill crossover.
Very True. Back in the late 80s, I was teaching a friend to fly R/C helicopters that did 2 tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. It actually took him longer to learn than most. He said it was due to a lack of a 'seat of the pants feel' that they get when flying the real thing.
 
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Very True. Back in the late 80s, I was teaching a friend to fly R/C helicopters that did 2 tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. It actually took him longer to learn than most. He said it was due to a lack of a 'seat of the pants feel' that they get when flying the real thing.
Same experience here. I fly with a guy who was a heli pilot, but now works for the FAA. He flies 750 size RC Helis and says they are much harder to fly than the real thing, and that the "seat of the pants" feel not being there makes it a real challenge.
 
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