The FAA is seeking to pass legislation that will not only ban First Person View (FPV) flying in America but will effectively roadblock the development of the sport of aeromodelling and future commercial applications of remotely piloted aerial systems. How does the FAA ban on FPV affect us here in Australia?

So why should we care about it here in Australia?

Here in Australia we are actually at the forefront of FPV and RPAS/UAV technology. The frankly brave and forward thinking actions of CASA means that we already have legislation and regulations in place to govern not only hobbyists but also commercial “drone” operators. Not only this but CASA has gone even further by seeking to adopt even more open regulations to allow sub-2kg platforms with low kinetic energy to operate free from the prohibitively expensive certification applied to larger aircraft.

This responsible attitude towards remotely piloted aircraft is further supported by the Model Aeronautical Association of Australian (MAAA), who has it’s own reasonable guidelines for the operation of FPV aircraft.

Unfortunately, in all corners of the world, there are a number of pilots who seek to gain attention by flying FPV in unsafe locations or in a reckless manner. This includes (but is not limited to) flying over crowds of people, flying close to landmarks, or flying close to manned aircraft or airports.

It is incidents such as the much publicized FAA v Pirker (“Trappy” from Team Black-Sheep) case that have attracted media, and therefore public attention and added weight to the FAA’s decision to attempt to ban FPV flying.

Australia is regularly labelled as a “nanny state” and more than once have I heard referred to as the 51st State of America. We should all be fearful that if this legislation is allowed to proceed in America, it may only be a matter of time before our own politicians sit up and take notice.

What can we do about it?

This video from Flite Test sums it up nicely…

There are a couple of places where you, as an Australian pilot, can add your voice in support:

www.Change.org 

www.Regulations.gov

Please, if you do decide to comment, do it in a thoughtful, intelligent and respectful way. Don’t hand them the rope to hang us with!

Fly Safely

For the most part I am preaching to the converted. We all know how to fly FPV safely although we sometimes forget.

  • Don’t fly over populated areas or crowds
  • Stay away from airports and manned aircraft
  • Don’t fly long-range/out of a reasonable line of sight
  • Do keep it below 400ft AGL unless in uncontrolled airspace (where higher ceilings may apply)
  • Do learn how to fly first! (see below)
  • Do use a spotter
  • Know your gear and know its, and your limitations

A Final Word

dji-phantom-2-uk-stockPersonally, even though I think the people who promote themselves as the “Pirates” (or even dare I say “Black-Sheep”) of the hobby are idiots. That said, they are for the most part highly skilled and experienced individuals who just happen to use technology to draw attention to their thrill-seeking lifestyle. Would they try to ban surfing if there were hundreds of videos on YouTube of people surfing inside the flags?

The real problem is the fact that for a few hundred dollars anybody can go out and by a flight ready, FPV capable multirotor to do with what they like. Not only that but these incredible pieces of technology are able to stabilise and control their own performance envelope to the point where they can advertise “no piloting experience necessary”.

Now, I’m not going to go off on a “in my day” rant (I’m not THAT old). I do however despair that I, and other experienced pilots like me, are being tarnished with the same brush as the prats in the paper who fly their DJI Phantom straight out of the box and into the side of a building.

Come on Australia – help us to stop the FAA spoiling it for the rest of us…