With the FAA breathing down the necks of our American cousins and CASA trying hard to twist 12 year-old legislation for the same purpose, I have been reminded lately that when we strap on our goggles we do have some responsibility to those around us…

Once it’s out there, it’s out there!

Fat Shark AttitudeSDModern FPV cameras, transmitters, receivers and goggles have opened up a whole new world to a community of pilots who would otherwise never get to experience the feeling of being “up there”. HD recording equipment such as the GoPro and Mobius cameras have meant we are able to share these exploits with the world.

What we need to remember though is that once your video is out there on the web, it’s there forever and big brother IS watching.

qav250-carbin-fiber-editionI don’t want to name names or point fingers but the other day I saw a couple of videos on YouTube that scared me. Both were filmed using a miniquad and showed the pilot flying some proximity FPV in a park. The skill of the pilot was evident but the thing that scared me was the fact that all his flips and rolls were performed around and above members of the public.

A week later a new video was posted. This time the quad suffered an unknown fault and crashed. 30 seconds earlier he had made a low pass over the head of an unsuspecting child.

I immediately posed the question “What happens if that fault had happened 30 seconds earlier…?”

Propellers are dangerous

Blade-Nano-QX-RTF-Mode-1-Gas-rechts-von-E-flite-Horizon-BLH7600M1-HHBLH7600M1_b_1When I first got my Blade Nano QX I was in the habit of flying it around the house and over the top of my kids so they could chase it. It was a great game until I misjudged a pass and clipped my 18 month old son. Even the tiny prop on a Nano QX, with the prop guards, was strong enough to put a tiny cut in his cheek. He cried, I cried, I never flew the Nano QX near him again.

Do a search on “Multirotor Injuries” on Google and you will see a gallery of horrors that will turn your stomach. I’ll put a link below but PLEASE DO NOT CLICK IT IF YOU ARE EASILY UPSET OR DON’T LIKE THE SIGHT OF BLOOD!

Multirotor Injuries – WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT

I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun…

FPV is more than a hobby. For those of us that do it regularly it becomes something more than that. FPV is the transference of one’s consciousness to a fully articulate airborne vehicle and extending both our skills and our senses in a way never before possible.

If we want to continue to enjoy this freedom we need to remember that “with great power comes great responsibility”. (I just love using that quote as often as possible!)

So the bottom line here is “fly FPV, but do it in a way that isn’t going to get you into the newspapers”.

What are the rules?

The easiest answer to this one is that I really don’t know. It depends on who you talk to from one day to the next.

From my personal experience I have read rules/guidelines from two bodies – CASA and MAAA. All other websites, brochures, forums and “experts” seem to base their interpretation on these sources.

Model_Aeronautical_Associatio_of_Australia_LogoMAAA – The Model Aeronautical Association of Australia is the national governing body of the sport. Although not the only governing body in Australia, it is the one recognised by CASA.

The MAAA manual of procedures (MOP066) states that:

  • FPV aircraft must be flown by TWO pilots using a buddy cord system.
  • The Pilot in Command should be the master transmitter and flown line of sight.
  • As an alternative to the buddy box the model may be fitted with a “return to home system” – so a GPS enabled APM, Naza etc.

It is worth remembering that the MAAA policies are NOT laws. They are guidelines set out by the governing body to dictate what happens at MAAA affiliated clubs in order to validate their insurance policy.

CASA-logo-stackedCASA – The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is responsible for the legal governance of all non-military aviation in Australia.

The CASA regulation that governs our hobby is CASR 101, in particular AC 101-3(0).

There are a lot of guidelines here that you can read if you want to but the important one is part 7.2.1-(d) that states “[…] model aircraft should only be flown: […] within sight of the operator at all times

This statement is open to a lot of interpretation but if we search a little more we find the CASA Sport aviation page for model aircraft, and the “Flying with control” brochure. Once again, these make little sense and although they mention flying FPV they continue to state that aircraft must be flown only line of sight.

The big thing to remember here is that everything on the CASA website is based on rules that were written 12 years ago when FPV didn’t really exist like it does today. Maybe an update to the rules is in order…

So, what now?

DSCN2336-1920Okay, so here are my rules. They aren’t official rules so don’t go reaching for the soapbox. These are just the rules that I fly by and they seem to make a lot of sense to me:

  1. DO fly FPV with your goggles on. It’s fun and it’s addictive.
  2. DO take a friend to spot for you unless you know your flying area well and can be sure there will be few or no members of the public around.
  3. DO know your gear and what it, and you are capable of.
  4. DO check your gear before you fly to make sure there aren’t any obvious problems.
  5. DO NOT fly close to or over members of the public. If someone wanders into your flying area, land. If they are interested, hand them the goggles and take them for a fly.
  6. DO NOT post videos of you flying like a moron on YouTube. That’s the fastest way to get the whole thing banned for good.
  7. DO post videos of you flying FPV responsibly on YouTube. A good video is great publicity!

WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!