Tag Archives | FAA

Board says FAA has power over drones, can impose $10K fine

FAA-Logovia Gigaom:

In a setback for consumer drone advocates, the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday supported the FAA’s authority to impose a $10,000 fine on Raphael Pirker, a photographer who had taken pictures from the air over the University of Virginia.

In its ruling, which reverses an administrative judge’s decision in March to throw out the fine, the Board said the FAA has authority over any “aircraft,” even model aircraft or unmanned devices, and can impose fines accordingly.

The board’s decision comes at a time of ongoing controversy over what many perceive as a heavy-handed approach to drones on the part of the FAA, which has declared no one may use the devices for business purposes — including for activities like news photography and search-and-rescue — without a special waiver. But the agency has been slow to grant such waivers, even as drone-based businesses are taking off in Canada and elsewhere.

Several media outlets, including the New York Times, had filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Pirker and challenging the FAA’s blanket ban as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

FAA Documents On Domestic Drone Use Obtained

In response to a Freedom of Information request submitted in April 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has accessed thousands of pages from the FAA detailing the use of drones within U.S. borders. It turns out that police departments and universities have quietly been using drones since 2004. Via Blacklisted News, EFF staff attorney Jennifer Lynch’s on what they found:

The 18 entities represented in the files include police departments from Seattle, Washington to North Little Rock, Arkansas; about 10 public colleges and universities; a few federal agencies, including the USDA and the Department of Energy — Idaho National Labs. The files go back several years and include COAs for every year that the entity has had drones. For some entities this is as early as 2004.

As readers will discover for themselves, often the police department’s description of their intended use for the drones does not match the scope of the permitted flight plans as indicated on maps included in the files.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Laser Attacks On Planes Rising

Warning for laser beam, symbol D-W010 according to DIN 4844-2

Warning for laser beam, symbol D-W010 according to DIN 4844-2

Years ago pilots were developing the symptoms that indicated laser attack (retina damage, seizures etc, vision loss) and were dismissed as unrelated medical issues. Now there is too much evidence to ignore, and too many incidents to brush them aside. Marnie Hunter for CNN:

A spike in the incidence of people pointing lasers into the cockpits of planes has the Federal Aviation Administration worried and encouraging public vigilance.

“It sounds silly, but this is a serious problem,” wrote FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt on Wednesday in a Department of Transportation blog post highlighting the agency’s concerns.

“Why is this dangerous? Lasers can distract pilots or temporarily blind a pilot while he or she is taking off or landing an aircraft,” Babbitt said.

This year, 2,200 instances have been reported nationwide. In 2005, there were 283 reports of people pointing lasers at planes…

[continues at CNN]

Read the rest

Continue Reading

FAA Has Lost Track Of 119,000 Airplanes

Airplanes are not small, and although it might be easy to hide one or two, 119,000? AP reports:
The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.
Continue Reading

Attack of the Drones! Number of Amateur Drone Pilots Set To ‘Explode’

Homemade Camera DroneUsually I favor allowing hobbyists and amateurs more freedom for technological development but having more of these in the skies does creep me out. Like most things in life, these drones can be used for positive or more nefarous means. Sarah Ryley writes in the NY Post:

In New York City, someone’s always looking down on you. Low-tech, miniature versions of battlefield drones have come to the boroughs. Only here, they are controlled mostly by hobbyists and photographers, not soldiers shooting insurgents from the sky.

There are only 282 official permits to fly drones nationwide, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. They range from $4.5 million jets that can fly for two days without landing, to hand-launched helicopters that fit in a book bag. The FAA would not say if any of these permits have been issued in New York City.

But the number of drones patrolling the nation’s skies is expected to “explode” if the agency, as expected in December, relaxes restrictions on law enforcement for aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

FAA Under Pressure to Open U.S. Skies to Unmanned Spyplanes

Drones Over America

Photo: Ross D. Franklin

Joan Lowy writes on the AP via Yahoo News:

Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the pressure’s on to allow them in the skies over the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to issue flying rights for a range of pilotless planes to carry out civilian and law-enforcement functions but has been hesitant to act.

Officials are worried that they might plow into airliners, cargo planes and corporate jets that zoom around at high altitudes, or helicopters and hot air balloons that fly as low as a few hundred feet off the ground.

On top of that, these pilotless aircraft come in a variety of sizes. Some are as big as a small airliner, others the size of a backpack. The tiniest are small enough to fly through a house window.

The obvious risks have not deterred the civilian demand for pilotless planes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading