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(Aero-News Newwork)   ♪ If a model finds a body while it's on the fly, The FAA says that's no hobby, you must let them die ♫   (aero-news.net ) divider line
    More: Asinine, Federal Aviation Administration, model aircraft, Texas EquuSearch, petitioners, National Airspace System  
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12246 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Apr 2014 at 9:57 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-23 10:01:18 AM  
Feds have the POWER and they will never relinquish it.
 
2014-04-23 10:02:46 AM  
it's not a body until they're dead. shiatty headline is shiatty.
 
2014-04-23 10:03:11 AM  
This could be too distressing for Fark. On the one hand, 1,400 searches and 300 missing persons.

On the other hand, it's the Federal government coming after Texas.
 
2014-04-23 10:03:18 AM  
Maybe this will be the last straw and Texas will finally follow through on their threat to leave the Union.
 
2014-04-23 10:05:24 AM  

olapbill: it's not a body until they're dead.


I'm fairly certain I'm alive, and I have a body that could be spotted by a UAV. The headline works.

The word you're thinking of is "corpse".
 
2014-04-23 10:12:15 AM  

Gonz: olapbill: it's not a body until they're dead.

I'm fairly certain I'm alive, and I have a body that could be spotted by a UAV. The headline works.

The word you're thinking of is "corpse".


no, I'm thinking of body, but used in the context of corpse.  I think perhaps I just hate the headline though. In other words,  I agree with you.
 
2014-04-23 10:13:37 AM  
As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.
 
2014-04-23 10:15:20 AM  
I don't have much sympathy for the company. When you enter into business, it's your responsibility to understand the rules.

Calling themselves hobbyists is like my neighbor opening a thrift shop in his house, and calling it a yard sale.

/If people are held to the rules, regulations and contracts of life, why not businesses?
 
GBB
2014-04-23 10:16:03 AM  
I think we need to start by properly defining a drone as an autonomously controlled, unmanned vehicle (ground or air), and not just a remotely controlled, unmanned vehicle.
 
2014-04-23 10:17:23 AM  

MelGoesOnTour: As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.


True, but is a cease-and-desist really appropriate? Why not make them fill out the appropriate paperwork and fine them if they fail to comply?

Also, this is relevant if true:

the FAA has been banning businesses from using UAS, but that humanitarian use "falls outside of that ban."
 
2014-04-23 10:18:22 AM  
Yes, this is one of the worst headlines i've ever seen. Stupid forced rhyme, derpy context, a story that's simply infantile - blatant clickbait. This one has it all.

1/10, will not click
 
2014-04-23 10:19:51 AM  

olapbill: In other words, I agree with you.


Oh, wow. I was hoping for a much bigger pedantic argument on this fine Wednesday morning.

//Back to the Geek tab with me.
 
2014-04-23 10:26:59 AM  

Gonz: olapbill: In other words, I agree with you.

Oh, wow. I was hoping for a much bigger pedantic argument on this fine Wednesday morning.

//Back to the Geek tab with me.


not normally how I roll, but if you need one let me know what thread to hit up.

/something something good ole days of Fark, something something lawn.
 
2014-04-23 10:27:20 AM  

Stephen_Falken: Yes, this is one of the worst headlines i've ever seen. Stupid forced rhyme, derpy context, a story that's simply infantile - blatant clickbait. This one has it all.

1/10, will not click


Yeah, TFA is clickbait, but it's not infantile. On the contrary, Gene Robinson and his fellow volunteers at Texas EquuSearch are at the heart of the current FAA - UAV legal battle (along with Trappy, of course). This case, or one like it, may end up at SCOTUS and help form the heart of how civilian UAVs are used in this country.
 
2014-04-23 10:28:10 AM  
I read that to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance
 
2014-04-23 10:31:52 AM  

MelGoesOnTour: As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.


They are a non profit. I don't think they charge to search. In which case their use is not commercial. The ban is on commercial use.
 
2014-04-23 10:32:07 AM  
MelGoesOnTour        2014-04-23 10:13:37 AM  
As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.

Private_Citizen          2014-04-23 10:15:20 AM  
I don't have much sympathy for the company. When you enter into business, it's your responsibility to understand the rules.


It's not a company:

Originally named Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, TES was founded in August, 2000 by Director Tim Miller after the abduction and murder of his daughter, Laura. It is a 501(c)(3) non profit, all-volunteer organization originally conceived as a volunteer mounted search and rescue group to assist local law enforcement personnel in searching the vast areas outside the city of Houston for missing individuals.

They aren't a company, and they don't engage in business, any more than the local SAR team in my area is a "business".

Nonprofits often do things that businesses aren't allowed to do.  For example, businesses aren't allowed to use ham radios.  The FCC can and does shut that kind of thing down.  But search and rescue groups can use them without any problems whatsoever if the individuals using the radios are licensed hams, even if they are using them solely to conduct their "business" of finding lost hikers.
 
2014-04-23 10:32:12 AM  

Private_Citizen: I don't have much sympathy for the company. When you enter into business, it's your responsibility to understand the rules.

Calling themselves hobbyists is like my neighbor opening a thrift shop in his house, and calling it a yard sale.

/If people are held to the rules, regulations and contracts of life, why not businesses?


Because it would interfere with their job creating bootstrappiness? (Joking)

Although I don't have any qualms about using UAVs if it's for a humanitarian purpose. (And I know it doesn't matter what I think.) I don't know all the ins and outs of the law, obviously. I'll have to go read up on the issue more.
 
2014-04-23 10:33:30 AM  

MelGoesOnTour: As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.


Really?

What is the difference between using something like this

a57.foxnews.com

and something like this


encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com

other than the presence of a camera?

The answer is not one damned thing.

The FAA has already been biatchslapped in court over this very issue and that case involved commercial use of images and video taken by a camera mounted on a RC aircraft.  They must like getting slapped around, because I strongly suspect it is going to happen again.
 
2014-04-23 10:35:18 AM  
That headline ranks right up there with some of Ewan McTeagle's greatest poetry, like "Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed? I'm right on my uppers. I can pay you back when this postal order comes from Australia. Honestly. Hope the bladder trouble's getting better. Love, Ewan."

i104.photobucket.com
 
2014-04-23 10:41:59 AM  

Private_Citizen: I don't have much sympathy for the company. When you enter into business, it's your responsibility to understand the rules.



It is a 501(c)(3) non profit, all-volunteer organization.
 
2014-04-23 10:44:18 AM  

JustGetItRight: The FAA has already been biatchslapped in court over this very issue and that case involved commercial use of images and video taken by a camera mounted on a RC aircraft. They must like getting slapped around, because I strongly suspect it is going to happen again


There are legit concerns about them becoming more common, but I agree their current rules are draconian, and the way they are enforcing them are illegal imho.
 
2014-04-23 10:48:54 AM  

mschwenk: They are a non profit. I don't think they charge to search. In which case their use is not commercial. The ban is on commercial use.


The FAA argues than any non-hobby flight activity falls under their jurisdiction including, using their example, a "paper airplane" (I shiat you not.) Texas EquuSearch doesn't "charge" for their services, but they do solicit and accept donations per their non-profit charter.
 
2014-04-23 10:51:11 AM  
I see several people have pointed out that EquuSearch is a non-profit.

I'll ignore that "non profit" status is currently the go to choice to avoid both taxes and regulation, while paying your board of directors six and seven figure salaries.

Let's assume these guys are the real deal, and genuinely trying to help and never charge for their services. A gold standard example of such an organization is the Shriners hospital network. They provide life saving/changing services to children, completely free of charge.

But they follow all the regulations of a regular hospital. It's not a hobby, it's a charity. It's not that much to ask EquuSearch to do the same.
 
2014-04-23 10:51:12 AM  

Stone Meadow: mschwenk: They are a non profit. I don't think they charge to search. In which case their use is not commercial. The ban is on commercial use.

The FAA argues than any non-hobby flight activity falls under their jurisdiction including, using their example, a "paper airplane" (I shiat you not.) Texas EquuSearch doesn't "charge" for their services, but they do solicit and accept donations per their non-profit charter.


So could a model airplane flying club.
 
2014-04-23 10:53:47 AM  

Private_Citizen: I don't have much sympathy for the company. When you enter into business, it's your responsibility to understand the rules.

Calling themselves hobbyists is like my neighbor opening a thrift shop in his house, and calling it a yard sale.

/If people are held to the rules, regulations and contracts of life, why not businesses?


In this particular case, it's the FAA that doesn't understand the rules, even though they've already been told:

Judge Patrick Geraghty of the National Transportation Safety Board, who heard the appeal of the $10,000 FAA fine against Raphael Pirker, ruled Thursday that there was "no enforceable FAA rule" or regulation that applied to a model aircraft such as the one Pirker was flying.
 
2014-04-23 10:54:25 AM  

Private_Citizen: I see several people have pointed out that EquuSearch is a non-profit.

I'll ignore that "non profit" status is currently the go to choice to avoid both taxes and regulation, while paying your board of directors six and seven figure salaries.

Let's assume these guys are the real deal, and genuinely trying to help and never charge for their services. A gold standard example of such an organization is the Shriners hospital network. They provide life saving/changing services to children, completely free of charge.

But they follow all the regulations of a regular hospital. It's not a hobby, it's a charity. It's not that much to ask EquuSearch to do the same.


Wrong.

This is more akin to something like the local Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) organizations.

Volunteers using their own equipment, and perhaps some donated resources (including donated cash) to perform a public service for *ZERO* remuneration.
 
2014-04-23 10:54:58 AM  

Private_Citizen: But they follow all the regulations of a regular hospital. It's not a hobby, it's a charity. It's not that much to ask EquuSearch to do the same.


But the FAA does not have to follow their own regulations, right?
 
2014-04-23 10:55:19 AM  

MelGoesOnTour: As noble as the search/rescue issue is, the company isn't fooling anyone by saying their aircraft are hobby-toys.


The ban is on commercial use... they aren't making money, and I can buy the exact same planes they use in a high-end hobby store...  the FAA is trying to broaden its own restrictions without legislative authority to do so. They say they're killing people in the name of safety, but they're just doing it so they can have a little more power... it's pretty f'd up.
 
2014-04-23 10:56:25 AM  
AeroNewsNetwork is only slightly more reliable than the Onion
 
2014-04-23 11:00:32 AM  

Private_Citizen: Let's assume these guys are the real deal, and genuinely trying to help and never charge for their services.


Why assume when you could do a little basic research.
 
2014-04-23 11:02:36 AM  

Private_Citizen: Calling themselves hobbyists is like my neighbor opening a thrift shop in his house, and calling it a yard sale.


Happens all the time in the South
 
2014-04-23 11:04:45 AM  

dittybopper: Private_Citizen: I see several people have pointed out that EquuSearch is a non-profit.

I'll ignore that "non profit" status is currently the go to choice to avoid both taxes and regulation, while paying your board of directors six and seven figure salaries.

Let's assume these guys are the real deal, and genuinely trying to help and never charge for their services. A gold standard example of such an organization is the Shriners hospital network. They provide life saving/changing services to children, completely free of charge.

But they follow all the regulations of a regular hospital. It's not a hobby, it's a charity. It's not that much to ask EquuSearch to do the same.

Wrong.

This is more akin to something like the local Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) organizations.

Volunteers using their own equipment, and perhaps some donated resources (including donated cash) to perform a public service for *ZERO* remuneration.


Amateur radio operators All have federally issued licences and are very diligent to not step on commercial and emergency frequencies.

What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.
 
2014-04-23 11:06:13 AM  

Tom_Slick: Private_Citizen: Calling themselves hobbyists is like my neighbor opening a thrift shop in his house, and calling it a yard sale.

Happens all the time in the South


I used to live in the south and experienced that one first hand. It blew.
 
2014-04-23 11:08:02 AM  

Gonz: This could be too distressing for Fark. On the one hand, 1,400 searches and 300 missing persons.

On the other hand, it's the Federal government coming after Texas.


Nope Feds going after a non profit org in Texas. So its a double whammy on the feds.
 
2014-04-23 11:08:07 AM  

Private_Citizen: Amateur radio operators All have federally issued licences and are very diligent to not step on commercial and emergency frequencies.

What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.


Those HAM operators are following very specific federal regulations.  The FAA does not have those regulations in place, they are simply making them up.

/just because the FAA is trying to help doesn't mean they don't have to follow the rules.
 
2014-04-23 11:12:06 AM  

Private_Citizen: dittybopper: Private_Citizen:

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.


Pretty much this, right here. Yes, it sucks that government red tape is getting in the way of a non-profit search and rescue organization, but mislabeling their search drones as toys isn't really going to help in the long run.

And if the FAA lets it fly, how long is it going to be before some dick using unmanned aircraft to spy on his neighbors or whatever also tries to classify it as just a toy model not subject to regulation?
 
2014-04-23 11:15:02 AM  

midigod: Private_Citizen: Amateur radio operators All have federally issued licences and are very diligent to not step on commercial and emergency frequencies.

What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.

Those HAM operators are following very specific federal regulations.  The FAA does not have those regulations in place, they are simply making them up.

/just because the FAA is trying to help doesn't mean they don't have to follow the rules.


The regulations are being written now. And there is plenty of push back on what form those regulations will take.

I think the FAA would like clear, careful regulations like those that govern HAM radio. Business would like zero regulation. Considering the potential for abuse, I hope drones are carefully regulated, while allowing people who follow the rules to help out in humanitarian situations (like ARES or RACES).

We'll have to see how it all shakes out.
 
2014-04-23 11:17:03 AM  

Need_MindBleach: Private_Citizen: dittybopper: Private_Citizen:

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.

Pretty much this, right here. Yes, it sucks that government red tape is getting in the way of a non-profit search and rescue organization, but mislabeling their search drones as toys isn't really going to help in the long run.

And if the FAA lets it fly, how long is it going to be before some dick using unmanned aircraft to spy on his neighbors or whatever also tries to classify it as just a toy model not subject to regulation?



How many times did you miss the part about the FAA not bothering to implement a real legally binding rule regarding drones (in whatever capacity they're used)?

If the FAA takes the issue seriously, they should do more than issue a non-binding memorandum and then try to act as if it has the force of law. There's a legal process for the FAA to do so, but evidently they can't be bothered.
 
2014-04-23 11:26:56 AM  

Private_Citizen: midigod: Private_Citizen: Amateur radio operators All have federally issued licences and are very diligent to not step on commercial and emergency frequencies.

What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.

Those HAM operators are following very specific federal regulations.  The FAA does not have those regulations in place, they are simply making them up.

/just because the FAA is trying to help doesn't mean they don't have to follow the rules.

The regulations are being written now. And there is plenty of push back on what form those regulations will take.

I think the FAA would like clear, careful regulations like those that govern HAM radio. Business would like zero regulation. Considering the potential for abuse, I hope drones are carefully regulated, while allowing people who follow the rules to help out in humanitarian situations (like ARES or RACES).

We'll have to see how it all shakes out.


In the meantime, maybe the FAA shouldn't be issuing C&Ds or levying fines without any legal basis against organizations that are doing humanitarian work and not causing any problems.
 
2014-04-23 11:31:24 AM  

Need_MindBleach: Private_Citizen: dittybopper: Private_Citizen:

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.

Pretty much this, right here. Yes, it sucks that government red tape is getting in the way of a non-profit search and rescue organization, but mislabeling their search drones as toys isn't really going to help in the long run.

And if the FAA lets it fly, how long is it going to be before some dick using unmanned aircraft to spy on his neighbors or whatever also tries to classify it as just a toy model not subject to regulation?


Lets just stop using the word drones. These are not drones. Drones are autonomous and run on a pre-written program with no human intervention. These are remote controlled vehicles and until it reaches a certain size I would venture to say they really are the same as toys.. really expensive toys, but toys none the less. Hell even our military drones aren't really drones of course they don't call them drones either.
 
2014-04-23 11:34:19 AM  

Private_Citizen: I see several people have pointed out that EquuSearch is a non-profit.

I'll ignore that "non profit" status is currently the go to choice to avoid both taxes and regulation, while paying your board of directors six and seven figure salaries.

Let's assume these guys are the real deal, and genuinely trying to help and never charge for their services. A gold standard example of such an organization is the Shriners hospital network. They provide life saving/changing services to children, completely free of charge.

But they follow all the regulations of a regular hospital. It's not a hobby, it's a charity. It's not that much to ask EquuSearch to do the same.


Except, as numerous people have told you and will continue to tell you, the only REMOTELY applicable regulation applies explicitly to commercial "for profit" use, and even then the NTSB ruled that a remote control model aircraft which has a camera on it is not a "UAV" and isn't covered by those regulations.

Now, where the line is between model aircraft and UAV, that's going to be hard to define and will definitely require more regulation to sort out.  However, the "business purposes" aspect of the FAA regs is completely unambiguous.  For the rule to apply to a private individual or organization it must be for "business purposes", exact words.  A volunteer non-profit is not a business as far as the law is concerned.  Again, this is wholly unambiguous.

The only case the FAA has here is if they claim that their original language about "business purposes" was somehow meant to be more ambiguous and cover non-profits, in which case a judge is most likely going to say "and you didn't just say that, why?"  This is, as others have and will continue to say, the FAA attempting to expand their reach without legislative or regulatory authority to do so, and furthermore is a blatant attempt to retcon their own previous decision.  They made a decision, people abided by it, and now the FAA is having buyer's remorse over the decision.
 
2014-04-23 11:34:48 AM  

Private_Citizen: Amateur radio operators All have federally issued licences and are very diligent to not step on commercial and emergency frequencies.


Actually, in an emergency (ie., protection of life and limb), all regulations go out the window:

§97.403   Safety of life and protection of property.
No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.

§97.405   Station in distress.
(a) No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station in distress of any means at its disposal to attract attention, make known its condition and location, and obtain assistance.
(b) No provision of these rules prevents the use by a station, in the exceptional circumstances described in paragraph (a) of this section, of any means of radiocommunications at its disposal to assist a station in distress.

 
Basically, that says that if it's necessary to get help to save a life that is in immediate danger, you can basically do whatever is necessary, including transmitting on police, fire, or business frequencies, if there is no other choice.

What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.

/just because you're trying to help doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.


Depending on the circumstances, the rules can be broken, as I pointed out above.

Also, we're talking about *RURAL* search and rescue here, not flying over heavily populated areas.  Oh, and this is the type of model airplane the organization uses as a drone:

si.wsj.net

I doubt it weighs more than 10 lbs fully fueled.
 
2014-04-23 11:37:15 AM  

liam76: There are legit concerns about them becoming more common, but I agree their current rules are draconian, and the way they are enforcing them are illegal imho.


Oh I completely agree.  There's already a pretty good framework for safe operation with the AMA safety guidelines.  It shouldn't take much to develop a good set of rules.

The privacy issue's going to be a lot harder. A privacy fence doesn't do much for you any more.
 
2014-04-23 11:37:29 AM  
Brilliant headline, submitter.
 
2014-04-23 11:41:15 AM  
So am I the only one that sees a lot of potential for abuse in allowing a nonprofit to just operate an unmanned camera drone as a "model aircraft" with no oversight or regulation? Maybe these guys have pure intentions, but maybe not. And even if these specific guys do, why is it a good thing to allow unnrestricted use of camera drones by private nonprofits? There's a lot of problems I would have if some nonprofits I could mention started flying "model aircraft" with cameras around.
 
2014-04-23 11:41:22 AM  

Private_Citizen: What's to prevent a person from flying a 55lb drone over a heavily populated area like a ball game or festival? Or flying one into commercial airspace? The FAA, that's who.


Except that's not their issue with this group.  Their issue is with ONLY the fact that their RC aircraft has a camera on it (just like tens of thousands of RC aircraft flown every day in the US and all over the world) and they had the gall to fly it for a purpose other than recreation.
 
2014-04-23 11:42:24 AM  

JustGetItRight: liam76: There are legit concerns about them becoming more common, but I agree their current rules are draconian, and the way they are enforcing them are illegal imho.

Oh I completely agree.  There's already a pretty good framework for safe operation with the AMA safety guidelines.  It shouldn't take much to develop a good set of rules.

The privacy issue's going to be a lot harder. A privacy fence doesn't do much for you any more.


Actually, it's not going to be harder.

Unless I'm mistaken, flying a camera equipped model aircraft into your neighbor's yard is a trespass.

Bet I could come up with a weapon of some kind that would be safe to use even in an very urban area and that would be capable of bringing down a drone that was too close.

/Uncooked rice in a potato gun sort of arrangement comes to mind...
 
2014-04-23 11:43:01 AM  
The FAA isn't bothering with nuance with unlicensened civilians because airspace control is of paramount concern. Especially the class B cakes around major airports. So, until they figure out how to do an 8 hour class on airspaces with a little licensing for people who will know about airspace concerns, expect them to get their knickers in a twist. Especially if you're using your device beyond your own visual range.

/Former ATC
 
2014-04-23 11:45:02 AM  

yukichigai: A volunteer non-profit is not a business as far as the law is concerned.


That's not correct. It's a business; they're regulated differently and some of the requirements to operate are different, but they're not unregulated.
 
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