Citing close encounters of the drone kind, FAA bans UAVs near airports


#1

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#2

To be honest, I think that's pretty sensible. All it takes is one clumsy drone pilot unfamiliar with the surprisingly large range for inhalation that a passenger jet engine has going at full throttle to cause a potentially very deadly accident.

They'll suck in a small cargo container from 30 meters away, I don't think your ten pound drone hovering in mid-air is going to fare too well - and nor will said engine, if it slurps up a little bundle of aluminum and carbon fiber.


#3

To be honest I'm surprised that was legal until now.


#4

And Venice Beach is how far from LAX?


#5

Shouldn't the restricted airspace have a form of an inverted truncated cone (roughly) with increasing altitude limit depending on the distance from the airport?

Another option, for more into the future, is exploiting the aircraft transponders. The more modern ones squawk back the aircraft's GPS position and altitude. They can be fairly easily received by e.g. RTL-SDR dongles. It should not be a major issue to make a less power-hungry receiver and integrate it with existing autopilot solutions, so the drone can keep track of nearby aircraft, predict their direction (Kalman filtering from last n points?) and possible changes (an aircraft won't turn instantly, so it can go only so far off its current direction in the most extreme case), and steer way clear of those areas. Like if the aircraft has a large cone that "sweeps" the airspace clear of drones by telling them to go away. A drone knows its top speed and knows the other aircrafts' actual speed, so knows when it has to start getting away to comfortably make it on time. Together with airspace "blacklists" of the airport corridors, this could provide a pretty safe solution. (The airplanes' forward-facing radars can also serve as additional warning, as an emergency backup; if the drone hears the radar chirp louder than a limit, start quick descent, like a moth hearing the ultrasonic chirp of a bat.)


#6

I'm pretty sure you are not supposed to fly remote controlled anythings at an altitude more that 400' above AGL (above ground level). This new law must cover semi autonomous and autonomous aircraft only. At least I hope it does, I fly a small R/C airplane in a park that is just under five miles away from local airport. Not that my plane can get anywhere near enough altitude to be a hazard, at 50' I can hardly see it.


#7

I'm all for safety, but 5 miles seems a bit ridiculous.

My house is 2.2 miles from a major airport. If I were to fly a quadcopter in my backyard, or in the park a couple blocks closer to the airport, I don't see how that could possibly pose any danger whatsoever to aircraft.

If that's a danger (somehow, when trees, radio towers, and the weather station on the hill are not?) then the FAA better also ban baseballs and tennis balls within 5 miles of an airport.


#8

a black drone with a 10-to-15-foot wingspan about 5,500 feet above Lower Manhattan

Yeah, that's doesn't sound like the quadcopters the neighbor kids around here play with.

I think there's drones, and then there's drones - and that some people that live nowhere near a battlefield are dronophobes.


#9

Um… 21 miles. (Venice Beach to LAX)

Continuing on - LAX has some pretty standard flight paths for takeoff and landing. Anyone interested in putting something up there with planes should first learn what those are. Both LAX and Long Beach use an ocean loop take-off and landing for larger jets, so they can gain/lose required altitude when flying over property.

Smaller planes can take of inland directly.


#10

The engines of large airliners are the smallest part of the danger to UAVs or general aviation. The wingtip vortices of the bigger planes make a large, invisible portion of the sky unsurvivable to small aircraft for a minute or so after passing by. So that increases the danger to the UAVs at least, and out-of-control UAVs might or might not recover. One would hope that most small UAVs at least have a ballistic 'chute system so they don't make a hole too deep in whatever they end up hitting. Perhaps that should be part of the certification requirements, as well as robust "stay the hell out of controlled airspace" routines.


#11

Good point, but suffice it to say, I'm somewhat less worried about someone breaking their UAV thanks to a passenger aircraft, than the other way around.

I can't say I've ever seen a consumer-level UAV with any sort of parachute system though. Most people's damage mitigation systems tend to be of the "Fuck it, it's cheap to replace parts" variety.


#12

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