Helicopter almost collides with drone

My DJI Spark (entry level) has some sort of altimeter, it stops climbing at 400’ but it does look like I can override it (never needed to).

All flights within controlled airspace must be submitted and approved through the FAA.

In an airplane the local barometric pressure must be dialed into the altimeter or the altimeter will not read correctly. I don’t do this with my drone, I’m guessing drones use a different technology to determine altitude??? Is it possible a drone can be 20ft off of actual altitude?

Both helicopters and drones can fly at 400 feet… Seems like this sort of thing is bound to happen? I’m guessing a helicopter travelling that fast might be going up and down a few feet rather than bullseyed at exactly 400? Alternatively, if the drone operator has similar software as the Spark, I don’t understand why the operator would take the steps to override the software for only 20-40 more feet???

(Just realized minimums for helicopters and planes is 500 feet)

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It might use GPS for that - and keep track of the altitude at which the flight started to get the altitude above ground level. That said, I’ve always found GPS altitude to be wonky and subject to variation.

May I ask what type of visual inspection? I mean flying a drone directly over a structure at more than 20 ft but no more than 50 ft would yield better visual inspections. How exactly would 400 ft yield better information for a structure? Using 400 ft would allow a wider range but if the rule is for an inspection, why would anyone need to be 400 feet above the structure?

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The payload carried by the chopper looks like some imaging/sensing device I’ve already seen on (or rather under) military helicopters. To me it looks they were conducting some survey above the coast line. Had the drone damaged it, the drone owner would probably be in very big trouble by now.

Yup… did some reading and DJI drones report altitude in relation to the point of launch height. So if a drone launched from a position 40 feet higher than the base of the building it would report an altitude of 400ft at the top of the 440 ft building.

Similarly, launching from a 30 ft pier would make the drone’s max altitude 430ft above sea level.

I’m probably missing something, all this seems like it is relying on the rarity of events to be “safe”.

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Video link for the BBS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBRI0Q1fq7s

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The FAA works in mysterious ways! I can’t give you a exact answer to their rationale, but imagine a large tower block or arena. Getting a shot of the entire property could require you to be more than 50’ above. Take an overview shot at peak+400’ before dropping down to get specific detail shots as needed. My reference to visual inspection is more relevant to the extended height around a building. A pilot can inspect the entire height of a building, not just the bottom 400’.

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Drones never have right of way.

What if the chopper pilot was not cleared to fly below 500ft but was under?

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I’m pretty sure that’s a local news chopper. The thing mounted on the front is a camera and gyro on a gimbal. We have a few here in LA like this with no local news branding on them.

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Ah. I can see using a drone to get a wide view of a property, but your post I was responding to specifically said 400’ for a (my assumption) structural examination. I assumed this meant that they were trying to examine something in particular in the structure, not looking for a wide view.

I live in SoCal near enough to beaches that I’ve seen numerous helicopters fly by low over the ocean. It’s surprising that the FAA would get this wrong.

(Actually stayed at this hotel on points, right tower about second floor from the top and there were a few helicopters buzzing by so, FL pilots do the same thing.)

Assuming it’s operating under VFR rules, there is a 500’ limit over populated areas (1000’ over cities/towns), but not over water. Additionally, per Wikipedia (I don’t have the US FAR handy and I don’t feel like looking them up), ‘Other aircraft, such as helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft, are not required to meet the FAR 91 minimums, so long as their operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface.’ Which, given it’s flying out over the ocean, I think the helicopter is meeting.

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What if the chopper pilot was a wizard with a nuke? Did you think of that?

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Yeah, I see a lot of CG choppers screaming up and down the coast when I’m there. Seems like the drone pilot was taking unnecessary risks. Did they have a visual observer to warn them before the chopper got that close? Did they have good eyes on their bird at that altitude that far out?

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Then I would set the oven to broil and let the cat inside.

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Here’s a question for someone better educated re: drone technology than I am: what, if anything, prevents someone from spending a couple thousand dollars on a set of off the shelf drones, then swarming the takeoff/landing airspace at a commercial airport?

laziness

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It does not take a swarm of drones, just one.

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Without good cause. Royal Park in Melbourne looks like a good place to fly drones until you look at the helipads on the hospitals at the south side of the park. There could be good reasons to fly a helicopter at low altitude along a beach.

This is something that has always concerned me about drones, especially since I have one myself (DJI Mavic AIR & 3 custom built 250 quad racers). I usually bring my laptop with me and have it up on a site that tracks airplanes in the US skies, but I live in Alaska and there are a lot of smaller bush planes and helicopters that don’t show up on the app. So I picked up a $30 software defined radio (SDR) kit and am in the process of getting it set up to track ADS-B communications between planes the trick is finding a piece of software so that when anything approaches within a certain radius of my location I’d get an alarm on the laptop to know I’ve got someone else entering the airspace. I’ve never had any close calls, but that might be that most of the use of my Mavic Air so far has been to for photogrammetry of historical buildings and their surroundings and historic buildings in Alaska are rarely over about 60 feet in height although some of the old mines had some pretty big buildings for ore sorting.

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