New FAA rules class toy UAVs as illegal drones


I suspect a large part of this is that only ‘the authorities’ are to be permitted to control aerial camera platforms.


As much as I agree that the FAA rules are inconsistent, it must be said that the some regulations are needed. Over the last few months, I’ve seen a quad copter flown need an endangered California Condor in a national park and a quad copter flown over a crowd in Central Park in high winds. Both exceeded what I would have thought were reasonable boundaries by the operators.

So, here we have a technology that has advanced enough that everyone can afford one, but the ethics around usage (noise, safety, privacy, environmental) haven’t caught up. Shame on the users and manufacturers for not starting the discussion. I guess folks just want to make money.


Pretty much, they don’t give a shit what’s buzzing around our heads but as soon as someone puts a camera on it it’s a PRIVACY ISSUE. They just aren’t willing to come out and say that directly.

I’m not sure why the FAA is concerned with privacy, is it in their mission statement or something? They should just regulate for safety and if someone acts like a creep use the volumes of existing laws to punish it.

I’m more concerned that condos are being built in national parks.


Anything that cuts down on noise is good with me…

Well, perhaps they should control the hobbyist RC planes too. Really any commercial use of the air is within the FAA’s purview to regulate, as well as any aviation whatsoever that might impinge on the public safety.

Of course, outlawing even the lightest and most inoffensive toy is silly. They should come up with some weight and/or power limit that defines what it means to be an unregulated toy, because both RC planes and quadcopters can be quite dangerous if abused, especially in populated environments like cities or towns.

Anyone can do aerial photography from an ordinary airplane.


I’m not convinced this is about privacy like some people are saying so much as a way for the FAA or related bodies to make some extra revenue on the side selling permits or making toy drone manufacturers pay a premium to make a toy that requires extra policing


Perhaps from the government’s standpoint a drone is a tool of control (and a weapon) and therefor in your hands can be used to neutralize or defeat that control.


I wonder how many laws would actually cover it? There have been a lot of problems over the years with landlords, etc. installing hidden cameras in other people’s homes precisely because there were no laws that covered the issue. The anti-peeping laws hadn’t been written with technology in mind, so existing laws literally just covered someone standing outside a window, peering in. New laws were written, and I’m assuming that the new laws are now in place in every state (though that may be an assumption too far), but were the new laws written broadly enough to consistently cover cameras on drones? I’d be willing to bet not. Also, there’s the difficulty catching drone operators - a guy standing outside your window with a camera, or coming into your home to install a camera, etc. is a lot easier to catch in the act than someone sending over a drone while not even being within line-of-sight.
Plus a decent-sized drone could easily be turned into a weapon, and no one is ready for that.

How’s that? Sure, they’re potentially weapons and tools of control, but I don’t see how having a tool of control/weapon neutralizes the effect of other such devices. I can see how it complicates their effect, but that’s something else.

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Annoying a protected species is a felony, I believe, no matter how you are doing it.


Just mount some type of firearm on a quadcopter. Bam! Unregulatable.


I wrote that comment in the spirit of TPTB thinking that anything which can potentially be considered a threat to their control as needing to be made either illegal or at least under their ability to take away.

Drones, as one example of neutralizing, can be used by peaceful law-abiding protesters to watch the police who are watching them, to avoid being kettled. And also to record evidence of illegal police activity.


So before quadcoptors, cities had designated areas (usually in parks) hobbyists could fly remote control airplanes and helicoptors, and as far as I could see it was illegal anywhere else.

Then quadcoptors come along and why were people “allowed” to fly them where previous technology couldn’t fly? Why can’t the quadcoptors be designated to the same areas the planes and helis are?

Also, what makes a quadcoptor a drone or a UAV, but not RC airplanes?


Here is what is so maddening about the FAA rules; there are none. No one is against the regulation of drones. This isn’t a regulation vs no regulation argument. What the FAA is doning isn’t regulation, it is a blanket ban. We have had commercially available drones forever, and cheap ones for over half a decade. What has the FAA done to regulate this? Not a god damn thing. They have just banned it.

The FAA is asleep at the wheel. Yes, regulation of drones is going to be tricky, but it isn’t so tricky that it takes over half of a fucking decade to write out some overly conservative rules and back off from them slowly. Write some god damn rules, make them conservative if you want to be paranoid, but writes some fucking rules. The head of the FAA should have his ass kicked to the curb for such negligence. One of the most interesting technological revolutions as at play here, and the FAA has essentially thrown up its hands, declared the regulation too hard, and declared a blanket ban.

A blanket ban does nothing other than support bad actors and punish enthusiast and entrepreneurs . All of the “scary” scenarios with drones would be illegal anyways under any sane set of rules. This is just ensuring that only the bad uses of drones will be advanced. The head of the FAA should be kicked out so hard his ass doesn’t touch the ground until it meets the street, and should be replaced by someone willing to do their actual god damn job.


I don’t think that’s true. The “guideline” from the FAA was stay under 400 feet and at least 3 miles from an airport or flightpath, although that was decades ago.

The FPV quadcopter trend is completely different from the traditional model airplane hobbyist. Anyone can plunk down a few grand (or less) and fly something far out of sight with no regulation. This is an accident waiting to happen IMHO. I applaud the FAA for using line of sight as a metric. You can’t fly an RC plane or copter very far from you without losing sight. Also, these things have Lithium batteries which can catch fire if they crash.


Tough to research, I’ve never really been sure where to go anytime I need to find city/state laws.

I did find some notes regarding that it can be a question for the property owner. So perhaps I can fly an RC object in my yard, but I cannot overfly my neighbors without permission. And I know for a fact I cannot fly in my local parks unless I’m registered and within the designated area only.

it democratizes it. it gives a potential power to the people that is currently vested in the state (the government has seen how effective their drone program has been abroad and fear greatly that it may be used against them. if any nutter with a remote control plane, a phone, and a gun can assassinate a politician from half way across the country…i imagine that freaks them the fuck out)