Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security Transportation United States Technology

Can Drones Really Get National Airspace Access? 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the hard-to-conquer-the-world-otherwise dept.
coondoggie writes "There is a push by a variety of proponents to give unmanned aircraft more free rein in US airspace, but safety is a major hitch in that effort. The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which flies unmanned systems on border patrols, shows a total of 5,688 flight hours from Fiscal Year 2006 to July 13, 2010. The CBP accident rate is 52.7 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. This accident rate is more than seven times the general aviation accident rate (7.11 accidents/100,000 flight hours) and 353 times the commercial aviation accident rate (0.149 accidents/100,000 flight hours)." An FAA executive noted that an "accident" refers to a situation in which "the aircraft has done something unplanned or unexpected and violates an airspace regulation."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Can Drones Really Get National Airspace Access?

Comments Filter:
  • Uh, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:20PM (#32932368) Journal
    The CPB isn't answerable to the FAA; nothing will happen to them if they violate airspace regulations. So of course they will have a much higher rate of violation than anyone who does.
    • by Kepesk (1093871)
      Yeah, I'm only 100% against this. But it will probably happen. If only my opinions were more effective at influencing tangible objects and events...
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, I'm only 100% against this. But it will probably happen. If only my opinions were more effective at influencing tangible objects and events...

        Can anyone decipher what Kepesk said? It makes no sense to me.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      wait, what? The air force cooperates with FAA regulations because they like to use national air space, why would the CBP be any different?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      Really? They aren't, but the Air Force is?

      No, they are, just like everyone else flying over US controlled airspace, they just don't play by the same rules as general aviation, which is why they have different licensing.

      You should probably check your FARs.

      They also have a higher violation rate because everything they do is on video and recorded by several people who won't loose their job because they strayed more than 500 feet off their flight plan, which, for the record, qualifies as an 'accident' to the F

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mysidia (191772)

        Hm... so if the DMV were more like the FAA.......

        On your way travelling to your vacation spot, you take a small course deviation from your plan, and stop to get something to eat and do some extra touring. Oops! Accident

        The road's closed, so you backtrack and take a different path. Oops! Accident

        You get behind a slow car, so you decide to pass them, using the vacant left lane. Oops! That's an accident

        The whether gets really nasty so you slow down, causing your arrival time to be wrong.. Oops! Accid

    • by jsurmont (1712172)
      Ignorance isn't bliss in this case. This is a an issue that is going to eventually become a monster and many people don't really understand it. I've been watching some posts here and want to stop the misinformation. If you seriously want to understand what's going on in the Unmanned Systems space and get a no bullshit download, start with reading these three blog posts. "Size does matter" http://tinyurl.com/29ddu6p [tinyurl.com] "Information Infrastructure" http://tinyurl.com/255ugv9 [tinyurl.com] "Put it on a tether" http://tin [tinyurl.com]
    • Wouldn't ADS-B solve a lot of these problems as well?
    • I don't think it is just a matter of haptic feedback, it's also one of the pilots having their own lives on the line. Everyone will tell you "I would never put anyone's life at risk; I would treat it as my own", but you only have to look at the decisions leading up to the two space shuttle crashes, where managers avoided and ignored clear evidence of danger, to realize that we don't work this way. I would guess that even the threat of the death penalty for causing a fatal accident would not be as effective
  • Caveat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ceraphis (1611217)
    Just because there's nobody in the cockpit doesn't mean there isn't somebody wanking a joystick with malicious intent somewhere.
    • So does the drone have a radio relay back to the pilot on the ground; so the pilot can talk to the air traffic controllers in the area of the drone?

      I dunno, just wondering.

    • Just because there's a person in the cockpit doesn't mean their intent is good.
      • but generally the person was trained to know that the lives of others, (including their own) is at stake.

        just because SOME people don't value their lives, doesn't mean most don't!
    • by PPH (736903)

      Malicious intent is its own problem. What I worry about is the UAV pilot who doesn't have his own life at stake and won't worry about a few little fuck-ups that would kill him if he was flying IRL.

      I also worry about the quality of the video and associated uplink that the UAV pilot is depending on. We just had a USCG helicopter snag a power line and go down near here. Only one survivor (thanks to nearby boaters). If they can't see a power line on a clear day in person, what's their video going to look like?

      • Re:Caveat (Score:4, Funny)

        by Zerth (26112) on Friday July 16, 2010 @08:22PM (#32934006)

        Only one survivor (thanks to nearby boaters).

        Wow, where was this?

        I definitely wouldn't want to go boating there, if they're that territorial...

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What I worry about is the UAV pilot who doesn't have his own life at stake and won't worry about a few little fuck-ups that would kill him if he was flying IRL.

        You mean if he was airborne. We're talking about pilots who are flying "IRL", albeit from the ground. If it was other-than-IRL, we wouldn't care. In fact, we don't care if somebody crashes in a flight sim. It happens every day.

  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by thewise1 (955170) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [orbna]> on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:25PM (#32932426)
    ...is firing a hellfire missile a airspace regulation violation?
  • Here's a prediction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:30PM (#32932480) Homepage Journal

    In ten years, most of the unmanned aircraft in domestic airspace will not be from the military, but from private enterprise which (by definition) doesn't have an allegiance to any nation or state. As is the case in most situations (I believe) there's a bigger threat to our security, our privacy, our way of life and our freedom from transnational corporations than from "big government".

    • Google SkyView (TM), awesome. Targeted air to surface advertisements!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kepesk (1093871)
      Yes, absolutely. The faults of "big government" are caused by those transnational corporations bribing our politicians (or to put it politely, "Lobbying").

      I wish more people would see this, but guess what issue is least accurately covered by the transnational corporate media? "Lobbying".
      • by pgmrdlm (1642279)

        are caused by those transnational corporations bribing our politicians (or to put it politely, "Lobbying").

        Unions would never bribe(lobby) our politicions.

        http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?txt=P01&cycle=2010 [opensecrets.org]
        Home Influence & Lobbying PACs Labor
        In Influence & Lobbying
        Save/Share:
        PrintE-mail
        PACs
        Labor
        PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates
        Total Amount: $38,145,981
        Total to Democrats: $35,533,039 (93%)
        Total to Republicans: $2,577,692 (7%)
        Number of PACs making contributions: 76

        Hmmmm, lets try:
        http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/sector.php?txt=Q01&cycle=2010 [opensecrets.org]
        Home

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          We should just make lobbying punishable by the death penalty.

          • by gd2shoe (747932)
            On a more serious note, it would be really nice to make lobbying illegal for non-US legal entities. If your headquarters really are a small suite in an office building on a Caribbean island, and you feel like you ought not pay US taxes because of it, you shouldn't be allowed access to our lawmakers.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Eivind Eklund (5161)

              I think the reasonable thing to do would be to make all lobbying public. All lobbyists to have *all* contact with politicians and staffers recorded and published in an electronic format.

              This means that all attempts at twisting information would be at least in theory possible to uncover; and that if there is any significant amount of them, a lot *would* be uncovered, creating some fear of this in the lobbyists (and thus reducing it overall).

              If we were to enforce this well, deliberate lying or twisting the t

              • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

                by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                I think the reasonable thing to do would be to make all lobbying public.

                It was called the DISCLOSE Act and it just passed the congress and was signed into law.

                The Republicans are promising to repeal it as soon as possible, saying it "violates the 1st Amendment" to force corporations to disclose their political spending.

                They just can't get it through their heads that corporations are not the same as people. There's no language in the Constitution that would indicate that corporations are the same as individ

              • When the elected leader of Sparta stepped down after his term he was put on trial for abuse of power. The burden was upon the former leader to prove that he had not abused the power he had been given over the last year. A guilty verdict was death.

                That might be a bit much. However, if a candidate vowed that if elected he would donate all of his future wages over the poverty line, to charity such and such for the rest of his life, and then did it? If the next person to win did similarly and the string hel

        • by shaitand (626655)

          That's an interesting site. Is there anyone else isn't buying that bribes have decreased by 2/3rds from 1998?

          http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php [opensecrets.org]

          Looks like they are getting better at keeping the numbers off opensecrets.org.

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by pgmrdlm (1642279)
            I noticed the decrease in the number of lobbyists. I also noticed that the total amount spent is lower, much. But hey, unlike you. I reconize that the fucking year isn't half over yet.

            You know asshole, 2010. It's only July.

            If you don't have evidence to dispute the numbers,shut the fuck up asshole.

            • by shaitand (626655)

              I didn't even contradict your point and I'm already an asshole eh?

              But since you want to go there. I note your numbers show $35 mil from unions. Doesn't sound like much compared to the $3.5 Billion your corporate friends spent. I'm also not sure the GP would consider $35mil of mob money contributions to be particularly relevant in the first place. The unions aka mob is really just an under the table corporation fscking us.

              Here are some other interesting things.. from that site.

              http://www.opensecrets.org/indu [opensecrets.org]

              • by pgmrdlm (1642279)

                I note your numbers show $35 mil from unions. Doesn't sound like much compared to the $3.5 Billion your c friends spent.

                And this is an example of why I called you an asshole. Never disputed that corporate was abusive with regard to lobbying. Citation to prove otherwise on your part. My point was that typical liberals point to corporate lobbying but ignore other special interest lobbying. Again, citation to prove I was saying anything different.

                I like your quote though on labor.

                The unions aka mob is really just an under the table corporation fscking us.

                I was thinking the same about Labor Unions and Mob ties, but I thought it would be considered troll/flamebait so I didn't use that statement.

                On t

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by pgmrdlm (1642279)

            NOTE: Figures are on this page are calculations by the Center for Responsive Politics based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on April 25, 2010.

            Learn to fucking read.

            Learn to comprehend what the fuck you read.

            Learn to provide evidence to support your fucking argument if you disagree what the evidence put forth.

            Fucking asshole

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rickb928 (945187)

      When considering threats to our liberties, Constitutional protections, and property, the difference between transnational corporations and "big government" is immaterial and indistinguishable.

      Both are to be feared and resisted. Equally. In fact, they act alike, and are too often in collusion.

      Trust no one.

    • Right. In theory, if federal bureaucracies get bad enough, people vote against the politicians that fund them. With powerful corporations, the best people can do is vote for politicians who promise to direct the bureaucracies to obstruct the corporations. There's one more level of indirection there, which gives the corporations more free reign.

      Of course, unrestrained government power and corporate power are both bad, so we have to fight them both.

    • by Dilaudid (574715)

      I hear what you're saying, and I say "bum cheeks". In ten years time government won't exist. Like John said, "imagine there's no countries".

      BS aside, it's an interesting point. I can't stand government, but I work for a big company, and I find them just as awful and bureaucratic as my visions of the civil service. I always hoped the future would be small companies, a kind of world of startups, but when you look at supermarkets, banks, commodities firms and so and so - big seems to be the only way to be. Whi

  • Small sample (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:35PM (#32932526)
    Running the numbers, that means they're looking at 3 incidents in 4 years. That seems like a pretty meaningless exercise to me, especially then comparing that number to commercial flight with millions of hours logged.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:44PM (#32932636) Journal

      shows a total of 5,688 flight hours from Fiscal Year 2006 to July 13, 2010. The CBP accident rate is 52.7 accidents per 100,000 flight hours

      Wait - so they haven't logged 100,000 flight hours, under 6,000 - and you are extrapolating up to 100,000?

      This reminds me of an XKCD [xkcd.com]

  • Restrictions (Score:1, Interesting)

    What the "Authorities" will do is to restrict the airspace around the drones in the "national interest". This way a bunch of donut eating policemen can fly million dollar drones to hunt some dirtbags slinging $10 bags of weed.
    • Re:Restrictions (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JordanL (886154) <jordan.ledouxNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 16, 2010 @07:34PM (#32933678) Homepage
      Yeah, that's a meme isn't it? All authority figures are fascist thugs (particularly the ones that are actually everyday people)?

      Or is that meme over on slashdot?
      • by Schemat1c (464768)

        Yeah, that's a meme isn't it? All authority figures are fascist thugs (particularly the ones that are actually everyday people)?

        Or is that meme over on slashdot?

        "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"
        John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834-1902)

        I didn't know that was a Slashdot meme. The Baron must have a really low user id.

  • ...unaircrafted men (flying superheroes)? You know that will be coming eventually. Either through sophisticated jet-boots, or (my personal favorite) spontaneous emergence of superpowers.
  • Anybody know of similar stats for driving?

    Quick look-up [dot.gov] gives 1.25 fatalities/100 million miles traveled for 2008. Haphazard calculating gives 60 accidents/100,000 hours driving (50mph, 1 fatality in 1000 accidents).

    Hard to compare, though.

  • A few hundred thousand in political donations from drone manufacturers is all it will take to get it done.

  • *Warning* tangential rant below:

    I'm impressed. They managed to get a worse safety record than General Aviation (GA). Kind of hard to believe considering how many terrible pilots I've seen out there. Radio calls? optional. Pattern? Straight in, screw everyone else. Traffic Frequency? For chatting. Maintenance? That's too expensive. Checklists? I'm good at remembering stuff. Etc. Safety is always stressed in aviation but yet we see people regularly getting themselves into tough spots and crashing. It's the co

    • The national airspace system relies heavily on "See and Avoid". Even in Class A airspace, "see and avoid" overrules all other clearances. How are UAVs going to accomplish that?
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Friday July 16, 2010 @06:21PM (#32933022) Journal

      Kind of hard to believe considering how many terrible pilots I've seen out there.

      And yet, even with all those despicable actions taken by pilots, the general safety record of Single-engine piston based General Aviation is roughly the same as the safety record of automobiles, despite flight being an inherently much riskier activity. While any failure rate could be improved, most people here are comfortable with the relative risks involved with driving from point A to point B, and the relative risk of getting from point A to point B is about the same in a private plane as a car by actual DOT statistics.

      Wanna improve your odds when flying private?

      1) Don't run out of gas. Seriously, almost 1/3 of fatalities involve (gulp!) running out of the stuff. I DO my checklist EVERY time I fly, and I don't take off without knowing exactly how much fuel is on board, EVER.

      2) Don't fly into storms. About 1/5 of fatalities involve icing and thunderstorms. Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday July 16, 2010 @06:46PM (#32933264)

        Thank you for pointing this stuff out.

        People tend to look at broad statistics and believe that's them. Realistically, there are many things that good pilots do to considerably improve their safety statistics. Because of the differences in equipment and a single engine, its simply not reasonable to believe a SE plane can ever be as statistically safe as a commercial, multi-engine plane. But, it is reasonable and very likely for good pilots in well maintained aircraft to fly statistically safer than those driving in vehicles on the ground.

        Contrary to popular belief, flying in a small plane is not a death sentence.

        Most of the things that kill people in small planes are really, really, stupid behaviors which, for whatever reason, some pilots decide doesn't apply to them. For whatever reason, some pilots really do believe they are immune to the reality of physics and can't run out of gas...or believe their wings can stay on inside a hurricane...or believe they can recovery from a spin despite the manufacturer clearly stating it can't be done safely and reproducibly...so on and so on. Idiots like these lowest the safety statistics. But if you're not with a pilot who does dumb stuff like that, in a well maintained plane, your odds of remaining safe are dramatically improved.

        Another killer are twin engine pilots who believe they are inherently safer because they have a second engine. Statistically these guys kill far more people than SE planes. Statistically, if a twin engine pilot has fewer than 100 hours annually, they are more dangerous than low proficiency, low hour SE pilots. The reality is, single engine failure in a piston twin is a bitch for most experienced pilots. For those less experienced and proficient, its usually lethal. So don't even let a twin pilot tell you they are inherently safe because they are full of shit if they do. In fact, that's likely reason to be very wary.

        And contrary to popular belief, flying can be fairly affordable. The average non-commercial, private pilot makes less than $40K a year. The average plane owner makes less than $80K a year. And even with a headwind, a typical small, SE plane is still faster than ground transportation - and a hell of a lot more fun!

        • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Friday July 16, 2010 @08:13PM (#32933956)

          Anyone with an interest in aviation safety should be able to entertain themselves for hours with the NTSB database of accident reports:

          http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/month.asp [ntsb.gov]

          Reading about other people's bad luck and capacity for self-delusion and occasionally pure boneheaded stupidity can be both entertaining and enlightening. Better than most reality TV anyway :)

          G.

        • by mcrbids (148650)

          Just curious: what do you fly?

          I put about 40 hours/year in a C-182 in my flight club.

          Strangely, it's actually much cheaper for me to "have" a private plane in the flight club than it is to pay for my 2005 Toyota Matrix, [howstuffworks.com] and it's just a little economy car!

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There was an article in AOPA some time ago about this very thing. It seems that emergency landings in SE aircraft are several orders more survivable than Multi-engined aircraft. They brought up a few good points.

          1. When your engine fails in a single-engine, you automatically go into emergency landing mode immediately, and are thus much better prepared (and lined up) for your inevitable crash landing.

          2. During the emergency landing itself. The occupants seem to stand a much better chance of survival when the

        • by wwphx (225607)

          And contrary to popular belief, flying can be fairly affordable. The average non-commercial, private pilot makes less than $40K a year. The average plane owner makes less than $80K a year. And even with a headwind, a typical small, SE plane is still faster than ground transportation - and a hell of a lot more fun!

          I can understand the costs are more affordable than they initially appear for people of more moderate means. My problem is that if I fly to Phoenix to visit friends and family (500 miles), regardless of commercial or private aviation, I would have to rent a car once I got there. That rental is going to cost more than my fuel cost to drive there myself ($100-150 round trip). If I were visiting one family, they could drive out and pick up my wife and I, but we're then restricted to doing things as a group

      • ". Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)"

        i would bet that There's an Ap for that! if not then GET CRACKING PROGRAMMERS 8-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wanna improve your odds when flying private?

        ... Can you say preflight briefing?!?! It's a TOLL FREE CALL!!! (that I generally make, often while on the way to the airport)

        So do you make the call on your cellphone while you are driving to the airport?

        :->

      • I DO my checklist EVERY time I fly, and I don't take off without knowing exactly how much fuel is on board, EVER

        I'm not a pilot but I thought this was required by regulation.

        I used to tease my pilot friends that they looked like they were praying when going over their checklists. Almost like a responsorial psalm.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Oh yeah, UAVs. Those are cool! Except when they crash."

      It's early in the learning curve, and we should remember that UAVs are still in their infancy. When manned aircraft were young, they killed lots of operators. The technology was worth the casualties.

      It's not time to let UAVs in CONUS airspace...yet.

    • by e2d2 (115622)

      So I get rated a troll, again. Even though I am a pilot myself and all of the rants below mine were almost the same, yet labeled "insightful" or "interesting". But no, I'm a troll. I think I've had enough mod abuse here to last a life time.

  • by ManicMechanic (238107) on Friday July 16, 2010 @06:26PM (#32933082)

    I am a military Helicopter pilot and I have literally come back with a UAV sticking out of the side of my aircraft after a mid-air with a small drone. There are lots of growing pains with these things, and they are no where ready for integration in the national airspace system. A growing conflict with military use of UAVs is that they are often being operated by non-pilots(cheaper to train). In many cases the smallest drones are operated by infantrymen who throw these things into the air and rely on big sky theory to separate them from the aircraft providing Close Air Support. Non-pilots typically have less diversity of experience and a lot less air-sense when it comes to situational awareness.

    The most likely user of this technology is Law Enforcement. The last thing civil aviation needs is some jack-hole beat cop throwing these things into the air to look for a guy on a stolen bicycle and have a mid-air with an airliner on approach because he dose not understand what is going on above him, or have any responsibility for his actions because his personal safety is not directly tied to the operation of his aircraft. They cant be trusted to use tazers, why the heck would we give them UAVs?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are several versions of UAV's - the "throw to launch" version is essentially an enhanced remote controlled airplane in terms of operating environment. Ban them within 10 miles of airports and call it a day. More problematic are the predator sized drones that actually fly high enough and are large enough to worry about collisions that could actually damage other things. I guess the some fundamental questions are what is the tasking - is this to replace/augment police helicopters or is this to be an

    • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Friday July 16, 2010 @08:22PM (#32934010)
      ...if that were possible
    • by Dravik (699631)
      One of the major sectors looking at UAVs is municipal mapping/surveying departments. It is very expensive and time consuming to pay for normal plane imagery overflights. Expensive enough that most cities can only afford it every 5-7 years. Being able to throw up a UAV and get accurate and (relatively) cheap imagery/survey/elevation data for the new mall/office building/tornado destruction would be very helpful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FlyingGuy (989135)

      Being a civilian pilot myself and also a Navy vet oh boy do I feel your pain. lol!

      Even with the larger predator type drones, even those who are good pilots flying them from the ground have (through no fault of their own ) poor situational awareness as far as the actual flying goes. When you sit in the glass bubble your peripheral vision is in full swing, you can scan the sky and the instruments. Flying a drone must be a lot like flying something like MS Flight Simulator, yes you can get different views fr

  • by mgooderum (446711) on Friday July 16, 2010 @06:52PM (#32933304)

    I'm a pilot, paramedic and software engineer. My flying is personal but I try to take a "professional" approach. I agree that there are a lot of not so great pilots out there but the most basic pilot has had a bunch more training than 99.99% of the drivers out there. A typical "commercial" pilot with a commercial certification and an instrument rating (and typically multi-engine in both) has about 3-5 times the training typically required for a CDL.

    Pilots and the flying industry are one of the most regulated endeavors in modern society. A good chunk of those regulations are "written in blood" from past accidents. Besides a few thousand pages of official FAA regulations there are thousdand more in ACs, TSOs and even industry standards like SAE, Milstd, ASTM, RTCC, etc. One big part of the problem is there are no standards for UAVs or UAV operators.

    Flying is still heavily dependent on "see and avoid". The reality is we probably still avoid as many or more crashes from "big sky theory" than "see and avoid". The people who want to fly UAVs mostly want to fly them where the risk is highest - down low and over population areas. Also the UAV accident rate isn't as sparse as it sounds. There are well over 100,000 hours factoring in overseas usage. Even if you subtract out combat or unknown losses the accident rate of the UAV business is abysmal. Remember this is the industry that gave us unencrypted classified combat video. Check out http://www.homeland1.com/homeland-security-products/unmanned-aerial-vehicles-uav/articles/847069-accident-reports-show-us-drone-aircraft-plagued-with-problems/.

    The argument that there is no pilot so the risk is minimal is disturbing. A predator is almost 30' long and a 48' wingspan - 1200# empty and over a ton fully loaded. This is comparable to most 4 seat trainers. Several of the private drones are smaller but have even less QA and little to no redundancy.

    The first and only NSTB report on a drone crash is at http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief2.asp?ev_id=20060509X00531&ntsbno=CHI06MA121&akey=1. It cites the typical chain of errors as well as a series of poor design decisions. It also notes the wreckage path indicated a flat approach and a wreckage path of almost 100' with jet fuel scattered around the crash site (there was no ignition). The operations console being used had suffered approximately 16 lockups in the 4 months prior to the crash and suck lockups were viewed as normal and acceptable. The normal "lost link" procedure normally keeps the aircraft flying a predetermined route over unpopulated areas until control was restablished but improper recovery on the crash failure caused the engine to be turned off.

    The lost link route procedure was called out in the NTSB report: "Another contractor, Organizational Strategies, Inc. (OSI), provided the coordinates for the lost-link waypoints to CBP. OSI reported that it developed the waypoints using an Internet satellite website. CBP reported that it also used the same Internet satellite website to verify the location of the waypoints. According to this website, some of the website's imagery is 1 to 3 years old. Neither OSI nor CBP used additional methods to confirm that the waypoints were not located over populated areas." No indication of the resolution of the satellite imagry used - and no requirement for direct verification.

    In fairness the CBP is actually one of the more rigourous operators of UAVs. Their pilots are required to be certificated pilots with at least 200 hours of actualy flying time and 200 hours of UAS flying time. They also use specific TFRs to provide seperation and maintain contact and obtain clearances from ATC. Not all FAA "Certificates of Authority" require this level of coordination or training. Many smaller operators operate close enough to the ground or restricted terrain or existing restricted airspace viewed to not interfere with existing flight activity.

    The simple reality is the UAV industry is about where manned flight was in the 30s. They hav

  • Back in 2001/2002 or somewhere thereabouts, I got to attend a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) meeting. This was the same meeting where I saw the most amazing presentation I've ever seen, Brad Edwards presenting his work on the Space Elevator. (It's also where I ended up with up Buzz Aldrin's name badge as a souvenir, but that's another story).

    One of the other presenters though was these guys from Sikorsky:

    http://www.niac.usra.edu/studies/516Keith.html [usra.edu]

    Presenting their study "on the potential for

  • by mysidia (191772)

    An FAA executive noted that an "accident" refers to a situation in which "the aircraft has done something unplanned or unexpected and violates an airspace regulation."

    So, deviating from the flight plan is considered an accident?

    If the drone operator changes the course in a way that is not inline with the plan, that's considered an accident?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ManicMechanic (238107)

      It can be, if the operator violates airspace or if the airplane reacts differently than what was planned.

  • Soon there will be smaller type drones, like those flying around in Half Life 2 that snap pictures and reveal your location.
  • Nova Queen Pilot: Keldan Control, Keldan Control, this is Nova Queen on primary approach zero-four-zero. Request orbital entry clearance. [com-beep]
    Keldon Traffic Controller: Nova Queen, Nova Queen, this is Keldan Control. Maintain zero-four-zero. Orbital entry is clear. [com-beep]
    Nova Queen Pilot: Keldan Control, this is Nova Queen. I have an unidentified trace on zero-four-zero. [com-beep]
    Keldon Traffic Controller: Nova Queen, this is Keldan Control. Maintain zero-four-zero and switch to Computer Flight C

  • by danwesnor (896499)
    Above 50kft, airspace is unregulated. If you can get there, you can do whatever you want.

<<<<< EVACUATION ROUTE <<<<<

Working...