Changes in FAA Regulations For Commercial Drone Pilots

Federal Aviation Rule Part 107 became effective yesterday. Until then, commercial operators needed a 333 exemption from the FAA. Although approximately 5,000 exemptions were granted, they were time consuming and expensive to obtain and contained a multitude of restrictions. The most important restriction was the requirement that operators hold a manned pilot license. For the first time ever, drone operators can now conduct commercial operations without specific pre-approval, provided that they operate within the confines of the rule. The most important restriction of the new rule is that commercial operators obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA, however, this is much easier and less expensive than getting a manned pilot certificate. The FAA estimates that the release of Part 107 will result in a 30-fold increase in commercial drone flights.

According to the new rule, hobby pilots (model aircraft pilots) are not required to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. To qualify as a hobby pilot, however, the operator must meet a variety of requirements, including compliance with “community based standards.” This generally means membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Hobby pilots must also refrain from any activity that could possibly result in financial gain.

The release of the new rule means that there will be a lot more drones in skies about Tennessee. I expect that our legislature will respond to this increase with its own increase in legislation. The mounting state laws will eventually conflict with federal laws resulting in criminal prosecutions, lawsuits, and other legal actions. We are also likely to see operators flying without a Remote Pilot Certificate with the mistaken belief that they qualify as hobbyists when, for whatever reason, they do not meet the regulatory definition.

The new rule will make it much easier to operate drone schools. It allows students to share controls with licensed operators, and instructors need only obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate – there is no need for a flight instructor rating or manned aircraft certificate.

Whether you want to fly for fun or hobby, I strongly recommend you spend some time on the FAA’s website or speak with an expert to better understand the legal requirements.

~Information provided by James Mackler, an attorney with Frost Brown Todd, LLC. Mackler holds a commercial helicopter pilot certificate, is a former military aviator, and advises government, business entities and individuals across the nation on the complex issues surrounding unmanned aerial systems.

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Giving Drones Human Emotions??

Right now in New Zealand, a conference is being held for the field of HRI (Human-Robot Interaction).  This field of research mostly focuses on the interactions between humans and social robots such as ones you’d see in a home vacuuming a floor or educational toys for children. However, for a growing number of adventure seeking adults, this also includes interactions with RC aircraft commonly referred to as Drones.

For that group, there has been an exciting paper released at the HRI conference on “Emotion Encoding in Human-Drone Interaction”. Essentially, this means how you could program a drone to have a recognizable personality.

You might be asking yourself, “why do I care if my drone can express emotions or not?” Think about how much communicating you do with your body langauge every day. Think about how much you are able to communicate to others without ever saying a word. Now imagine that your aircraft could be programmed with personality that could communicate to you without ever taking your eyes off your aircraft.

Your drone could communicate tiredness by moving sluggishly when it needs a charge, confused when you give it a command it doesn’t recognize or even fear if you were to try to fly it outside of the range of its controller. Each of these scenarios could be expressed to the pilot through movements, or “emotional” interactions.

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Image: Stanford University
Example of how three emotional states could be reflected by flight paths.

Although the test that was conducted for the paper released at HRI 2016 has promising benefits for the future of RC pilots and their pet-like aircraft, the real life deployment may not be quite ready for mainstream release.

However, becoming an RC aircraft pilot is both mainstream AND affordable!

Ways to get becoming an RC pilot today: 

All Levels: Learn to fly and save money on every crash by
    –    -    -   ->   Get Your Simulator

Buy & Fly: Get a plane with everything you need to take to fly
    –    -    -   ->  Get Your Ready To Fly (RTF) Aircraft

Beginning Builders: Work your way up to becoming a master builder
    –    -    -   ->   Get Your Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) Aircraft

Masters Builders: You already know what you want and how to assemble it.
    –    -    -   ->  Pick Your Kit

 

Source: You can learn more about the types of personalities tested and greater detail of the study at the full length article released by HRI 2016 sponsor, IEEE.org.

This study that was presented by Jessica R. Cauchard, Kevin Y. Zhai, Marco Spadafora & James A Landay at HRI 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Guinness Book World Record: 100 Drone Orchestra

The amazing footage shown above was shot November of 2015 in Flugplatz Ahrenlohe, Tornesch, Germany. The Intel Corporation (USA) sent a fleet of 100 drones into the air to perform with an orchestra to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The drones were controlled by a ground crew using PC’s during the performance and choreographically changed in both color and formation as the music played.

This demonstration of art combined with music and technology is a cultural landmark in the advancement of drone sophistication. However, becoming a drone pilot yourself can be both simple and affordable and is often described as so fun that it is borderline addictive.

See our selection of Multi Rotor Copters / Drones and pick out the UAV that’s right for you.

You can also learn all the details of this performance by visiting the original article HERE.

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300K Register Drones in The First 30 Days

It was announced today by the US Department of Transportation that in the first 30 days since the opening of registration nearly 300,000 people registered themselves as drone pilots with the FAA. That’s nearly 10K each day!

Drone pilots who took the first step into this new process were able to take advantage of the getting the $5 application fee refunded. However, it is the entire drone pilot community that will benefit from this new registration process as drones become more popular and the airspace becomes more crowded.

“Registration gives us an excellent opportunity to educate new airspace users, who may have little or no experience with aviation, how to fly safely. It also helps instill in them the safety culture traditional aviation has relied on for more than a century, while still allowing for the innovation that is a staple of American aviation.” - Cited from the official article from DOT.

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Multi-Rotor Camera Drones

If you missed the first 30 day window when registration fees were refunded, all is not lost. The low fee still stands at only $5 and the process is simple. Feel free to join the drone pilot community and Register Today >

Want to fly a drone without needing to register?? Take a look at our selection of RC aircraft that fall below the minimum weight that would require the pilot to be registered.

Shop “No Registration Required” RC’s >

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No Registration Required

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FAA UAS Registration Is Easy!

I just became a registered UAS operator. No big deal.

I went to the FAA UAS Registration link and found their friendly page where a button at the bottom was available to get the job done.  Selecting the “Register My Drone” button, I was off through a simple and intuitive interface.

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First it asked for my email and a starting password so it could create my account. This site requires a complex password so be sure to choose one that is complex enough to fulfill the security requirements, but also something you can recall later. That is important because as your name, address, phone, or email changes, you will need to update your registration too. It looked like this:

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It told me to check my email inbox for a confirmation email and link. So I went to my email and found it. Clicking the link I was ready to log in and proceed.

I put in my name, phone number, address, and email and off to “Next” screen with a click of the little blue button. To my, not surprise, a rules or the game page is presented to the registrant . Reading it carefully I was very comfortable with the rules and guiding principals presented to me as they make sense and promote safety.

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Check the box on the left and hit the “Next” because I understand and intend to follow these guidelines as a safe and responsible pilot. After that, we pay!

 

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This is the standard dance on a secure website for sending credit card money where you want it to go. Pick a card and you click and go. It is a very simple set of information with nothing “extra” to put in to distract from the purpose at hand.

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It was done! It is official now. I have my FAXXXXXXX number to inscribe on all my aircraft. I am now an aviator. I am not a licensed pilot but I can consider myself a government approved aviator.

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Now, with my certificate in hand, I can be challenged to produce this credential of compliance at a moments notice. I am still not sure who would be asking me to produce it, but if it ever happens, for the next three years, I am ready!

You can be too in about 15 minutes.

Kurt Cleveland,
President of Hobby Express

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New FAA Regulations on Registering Your Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

We see full scale aircraft aviators become radio control pilots all the time.  We hear from our military pilots how much they love flying the small, scale version of what they flew — for real.   Today, for the first time we can see and hear about the RC hobbyist — who has never sat in a cockpit to gently pull back the stick and edge an airplane off the runway — can now be legitimately called an “Aviator”.

Yesterday, December 14th, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued a statement that has fundamentally merged the space between small scale, micro aircraft and full scale aviation,  “Make no mistake,” Foxx said, “unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.”

This shift in perspective set the tone for the FAA’s Small UAS Regulation Rule, effectively classifying hobbyists as “pilots” of their aircraft.  What does this mean for everyday RC enthusiasts?

Not much.  A vast majority of Hobby Express customers are already very safety concious and most are members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) http://www.modelaircraft.org/ where the hobby industry set safety standards and local RC air fields get certified.  The AMA provides us flight accident insurance too!   In fact, for many years, all RC aircraft over 55 lbs and any functioning scale jet models have been subject to extensive regulation and licensing, so that element of the regulation nothing new for serious hobbyists.

Rest assured, the FAA did not set unreasonably high standards that would regulate regular citizens out of the joy of small craft, remote control flight.

The FAA clearly understands the excitement for unmanned aircraft in this country (and the world) with technology advancing so fast and given the flight experience is now so easy, there really is a wave of enthusiasm.   With markets expanding so fast, it did not take long for a few really stupid people to fly their aircraft in an unsafe and dangerous way, which lead to registration as a logical, necessary step to address that risk.

“Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.” Said Foxx in his statement.  Registration of the pilot and marking of the aircraft will now be a statutory requirement for all aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms).

The process of registration itself will not be difficult, nor will it be expensive (just a $5 fee for a valid 3 year registration).  The FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016). Register within this period and you will be refunded payment for your first 3 year registration. The FAA says “The credit card transaction helps authenticate the user. You will see a credit for the $5 shortly after the charge appears.” Our FAA is required by law to charge a fee for registration and the nominal fee will go towards the cost of developing, implementing and maintaining a convenient online registration system.

Visit the simple online registration page at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.  The registration process is not live prior to December 21st except for the referenced paper process which will remain available.

We checked in with Hobby Express CEO Mark A. Cleveland who has had extensive experience in the hobby industry for insight on how this might affect long-time hobbyists and friends of the business, “It will not bother Hobbyist at all, we’ve just been waiting to see what the FAA would require,” Cleveland said. “A long delay and discussion about regulation caused confusion, so we are excited about the clarity this FAA announcement represents.  It’s a basic registration of the pilot for safety purposes.”

Brief Summary of Regulation

The online registration requirement after December, 21 applies to any craft ever flown outdoors in US airspace as a tethered or untethered craft weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) at takeoff. The craft must be visibly, viewable without the use of tools, marked with the unique registration number of a registered person who is 13 years old or older and who is a US citizen or permanent resident.

A paper registration process is in operation now, serving non-citizens and public, private, or corporate entities, as well as individuals who wishes not to use the online process.  The Registration Task Force of industry experts and interested associations, including the AMA, submitted recommendations that also contain a statement providing for the FAA to take “…all possible steps to shield the information of privately owned aircraft from unauthorized disclosure, including issuing an advance statement that the information collected will be considered to be exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.”  This means your registration is private or (read with a cynical smile) at least as confidential as our government is capable of managing.

The bottom line, registration serves the mandate that all UAS must be traceable in the event of incident.  “A registration certificate that contains the unique FAA registration number, the issue and expiration dates, and the name of the certificate holder will be sent to your email address immediately.”  According to the FAQ located at http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/faqs certificates must be presentable in printed or electronic form any time you fly your UAS in case you are asked to produce proof of registration.

Registration of a pilot makes it possible to give that pilot a number they would inscribe on all their aircraft, which would help trace any crashed or lost aircraft back to their registered owner.  This will benefit ethical aircraft owners and commercial operators while serving to protect the safety and privacy of the public.

The FAA is serious about the rules as it is clearly provided that the penalty for failing to register an aircraft exposes a pilot to regulatory and criminal sanctions. These include possible civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties that include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

“Well, it’s finally the devil we know instead of the devil we don’t,” said Mark A Cleveland, CEO of Hobby Express.  “Millions of smiles at Christmas will still be delivered by drone.”

See the official FAA press release of  HERE

 

Posted in Drones & Multi Rotors, Heli Haven (R/C Helicopters), R/C Models, Wing World (R/C Model Airplanes) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone, UAV FAA Pilot Registration: What You Need To Know

There is a family of frequently asked questions at Hobby Express that center around information on current and future regulations of radio controlled aircraft.  Because we can trace our legacy back more than 50 years in this hobby, we have witnessed a lot of change.  As a manufacturer and developer of hobby aircraft, our subject matter expertise is substantial, but we also have friends like James Mackler, a Nashville based attorney at Frost Brown Todd LLC.  James focuses his practice on advising businesses on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly known as “drones”. He works with clients on various regulatory and compliance elements of drone usage across a spectrum of industries including agriculture, real estate, construction, video production, entertainment, surveying, and the military and government agencies.  He provided this most current insight into the status of FAA regulations:

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“On November 21, 2015, the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) released its much anticipated Task Force Recommendations and Final Report.  Having read the report, I have created a hypothetical example of how the registration process might appear to UAS operators along with an example of a Registration Certificate.  This is all purely hypothetical but is based on the task force recommendations.”  

 

 

The process is expected to be simple.  Safety is always a shared concern. Hobby Express is excited about the technical progress, ease of flight and less expensive aircraft that a hobbyist, student or educational institution has access to today.  There is an explosion of new capabilities, including sensor systems and safety applications that Hobby Express wants to help put into practice. We think it is important for the development of commercial applications that the FAA to take a leadership role.  In that light, these appear to be some prudent steps.

 

Obviously, the .55 lb definition of a micro aircraft will not impact the little drones and airplanes you’ll see as great gifts around the Christmas tree.

 

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Youth Leadership Brentwood Meets Barrier-Breaking Businesses #WarehouseTour

The promise of tomorrow is bottled up and pounding through the veins of a diverse and creative group of young men and women participating in Brentwood’s Youth Leadership program.  All that energy and creative power is hard to contain, and it was exciting to have the entire group tour our warehouse and distribution center yesterday morning.

This Drone Was Used To Capture Footage in Video Above

This Drone Was Used To Capture Footage in Video Above

The highlighted theme for the day is “Non-Traditional Businesses” and the educational focus was on entrepreneurship.   Nashville’s 2014 NEXT Award Winner as the Entrepreneur of the Year and our CEO at Hobby Express, Mark A Cleveland was the morning’s host.  Topics ranged from challenges in global supply chain management and opportunities related to drones and emerging technologies, to brand management.  “Both my daughters graduated from Youth Leadership Brentwood,“ Cleveland said as he introduced the day’s speakers and demonstration plan.  He fielded questions about the giant Twelve Foot Telemaster, a radio controlled airplane hanging from the ceiling that is manufactured by Hobby Express in Tennessee.  The drone demonstration went perfectly!  We pulled out a Zugo™ 2MP HD Camera Drone RTF straight out of the box and started flying the $79 multi rotor with integrated camera capturing video of the warehouse tour.  “That’s the most popular christmas gift we’ve ever seen in fifty years,” Cleveland said.

The next featured business was Batch Nashville, where CEO Sam Davidson talked about their vision to be the worlds largest source for premium gifts and creative corporate gifting.  “Statistics show that as many as half of you will start your own business,” he said as he encouraged them to imagine the flexibility of entrepreneurship and the opportunities to do something you enjoy.  “Anyone can have a job, but being in business is fun because it is always challenging you.”   Batch started in Nashville and provides local cottage brands creating specialty products manufactured in Tennessee with an opportunity to be included in gift packages and made available on the BatchUSA.com.  Mark and Sam will both be honored tonight at the Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO Awards held at the Omni Hotel downtown where Ron Samuels, CEO of Avenue Bank will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Giving-Catalogs

The group left to visit the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in downtown Nashville.  The EC  is an amazing resource for supporting and generating new companies and helping entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.  “It was awesome,” said Rob Bellenfant, CEO of Technology Advice who, as a graduate of Youth Leadership Brentwood, is one of the organizers of the program.  “The kids were impressed with both Hobby Express and Batch!”

 

Flock-of-RCBirds

 

Cleveland is a board member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Williamson, Inc.. the organizer and sponsor of Leadership Brentwood and the Youth Leadership Brentwood programs.  Each year, accomplished students from all Williamson County High Schools submit applications to become part of the next class.  “It’s a competitive process,” said Lynn Tucker, the Director of the Williamson County Chamber Foundation, “the best of the best are part of our Youth Leadership program. The only complaint is that they really wanted to interact more with the drones!”

 

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What You Should Know: Transporting Lithium Batteries

It’s been a while since the hobby industry tackled the topic of transportation of lithium ion batteries. It’s helpful to remind our customers about the precautions Hobby Express takes, and why we take them, when we produce, ship and distribute our POWERWING Lithium Polymer battery packs.

Media reports of airline incidents only scratch the surface of the topic. The most recently published, authoritative report is from the FAA’s Batter Incident Chart dated June 30, 2015 and it summarizes critical events since 1991.

With the attention that the media is paying to “Drones” or “Quad Copters” used by enthusiasts, it’s important to note two of the more recent incidents, involving “drones” excerpted here:

 

Battery Incident Excerpt

Hobby Express provides convenient links to the FAA guidelines on passenger travel with “Lipo Batteries” in our publications and promotions.  It’s part of our commitment to safety and the integrity of our hobby.

At the same time, we comply with all shipping regulations for manufacturing and transporting these products in bulk internationally and in domestic transport, which qualifies as a hazardous material, we go the extra mile with inspections of each unit received.  Upon receipt of every battery here in the USA, we quality check 100% of our batteries — by hand.  Yes, not only are each and every unit serial numbered individually and tracked back to batch production records, and tested at the factory prior to shipment, but we do it again here in the USA.  This inspection includes a confirmation that the battery is balanced.  We inspect every battery prior to outbound shipment to our customer, looking for “puff” or any visual indication of failure.  We will not ship more than two batteries in a single shipping box.

The benefits of these multiple QC inspections are obvious to our customer, but also help insure safety in shipment for cargo and passenger travel.

Some of our batteries that fail the cell balance QC are offered to customers as “scratch and dent” product and deeply discounted.  Customers can often draw the power down in the battery under controlled circumstance, then slowly re-charge the battery in a cycle and generate a balanced condition.  At times, they just have a shorter life.  Most of the product is offered to Middle Tennessee State University where students study the conditions, disassemble the units and offer production improvement insights or gain important experience with power systems from the forensic exam.

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Arch Hoxsey: The First Pilot of Air Force One

Our mission at Hobby Express is to “Share the Fun” so it makes sense for us to share some of our family history that we’ve had so much fun stumbling upon in recent years.Portrait_of_pilot_Arch_Hoxsey_at_the_Dominguez_Air_Meet,_ca.1910_(CHS-43570)Mark Cleveland, our CEO and brother Kurt, the company President are directly related to a pioneer pilot, Archibald “Arch” Hoxsey.  After the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina they started a flight school and Arch was one of their first four graduates.  He was considered in his time to be the most daring of professional aviators.​”Arch was grandmother’s 2nd cousin several times removed,” our Aunt Marjorie would tell us when reflecting on our great grandmother and the family tree.  ”He was one of the Wright brothers’ first 5 students.  Incidentally,” she adds, “Teddy R. was the first American President to fly in an airplane. His pilot was Archie!”Pic - Archie & Teddy RooseveltHoxey set the American record for sustained flight across country, making the non-stop 190 mile flight from Springfield Illinois to Clayton, Missouri on October 6th 1910.  From Clayton, he took former U.S. President Roosevelt for a flight in nearby St. Louis. The event is recorded in a silent movie - thanks to the Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.    Imagine the technology 100 years ago when you watch this barnstorming video – I wonder if Roosevelt blew chunks?   We like to think of Arch Hoxey as the first pilot of Air Force One.


Within ninety days of this historic flight, Hoxsey’s adventurous life ended.  In that time, he also set the world’s altitude record, flying his airplane to 11,474 feet.  He died 3 days later on December 31, 1910 “… when returning to earth in a series of perilous glides.” As you see in the video, every flight must have been a “perilous glide”.  His crash site is documented in this photo that was published a month after that sad event.

hoxsey_crash_600x426Immediately after we first published this blog Brad Adams contacted us.  Brad lives in Hawaii; he is an aviation researcher and an antique collector.  He is also the owner of the only known trophies Arch Hoxey is known to have earned.  One is the world altitude record trophy he was not alive to receive.  Thank you Brad for sharing these photos.

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In his short but exciting life, Arch was a widely recognized celebrity in airshows and he traveled extensively with the Wright brothers. Interestingly, the most famous early aviators (John Moisant, Ralph Johnstone, Charles Hamilton and Arch Hoxsey) were among the celebrities pictured on a media called “tobacco cards” that were distributed with packs of cigarettes in 1910-11. These cards were part of an interesting series called “Champion Athletes and Prizefighters” which competed directly with baseball cards from that era.  Archie Hoxsey flew most often with Ralph Johnston and together they were known as “The Stardust Twins” — filling newspapers with race reports, breath taking contests and adventure.

Connecting with history in this way, we feel like we honor his daring and legacy when we continue to build the great portfolio of model airplanes at Hobby Express.

Posted in Aviation History | 2 Comments