Drone flight in vicinity of an airport

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by dell30rb, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    A friend of mine has his UAS operator's certificate and does aerial surveying for agricultural purposes.

    He normally flies it out in the middle of nowhere but was asked to do a job near an airport. He can complete the job at 100 AGL. The whole thing will take about 30 minutes and he can land the drone or drop it down to 10' AGL in a matter of seconds if there is a conflict with aircraft. The airport in question is KRHP and the field is on final for runway 8.

    He called the airport and asked to talk to the manager, to explain when and what he was doing and to try and coordinate things. Apparently the manager was not interested or unable to talk to him, but had someone call him back to say he needed a "permit from the county" in order to do the flight. Not exactly helpful and I think that in this situation the FAA/FAR's are what govern these operations. The flight is over privately owned land.

    Here is what the FAR's have to say on the subject

    107.43 Operation in the vicinity of airports.
    No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base.

    I am thinking to suggest he file a UAS notam, and have a FAA licensed aircraft pilot with him, keeping visual contact with the UAS and monitoring the CTAF on a handheld, in order to avoid interfering with operations at the airport. I can't find any precedent or guidance on what to do in a scenario like this. Any thoughts?
     
  2. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    No requirement for a permit from the county. If he has his Part 107 certificate for commercial UAS operations it's easy.

    If the flight is around an uncontrolled airport, he's good to go at or below 400ft AGL. He could take off from and fly directly over the runway without requiring permission as long as he doesn't interfere with operations and traffic patterns as per the reg stated in your post.

    If the flight is in controlled airspace, he has to file a flight plan under what's called LAANC (low altitude area network capability). I recommend doing it through AirMap - they have a website and app you can use. All surface controlled airspace in the US has been turned into a grid with a number in it. The number says 200, that's how high you can fly AGL. The tower has a part to play in the process, but 9/10 times it is automatically approved upon submission.
     
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  3. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    I just checked the area you referenced, you're good to go:
    [​IMG]
    For Airspace Analysis:
    https://skyvector.com/

    For controlled airspace approval and various other checks (military, national park, etc):
    https://app.airmap.io/

    The FAA's UAS Facilities Map, the place Airmap pulls their controlled airspace grids from:
    https://faa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c2e4406710048e19806ebf6a06754ad

    The DJI Self-Unlock Site, some areas have to be unlocked in advance before flying:
    https://www.dji.com/flysafe/self-unlock

    You're in Class G from SFC-699 AGL and there are no restrictions other than stay out of the way of manned aircraft in the pattern. Your friend is good to go as long as he follows the rest of Part 107 (displayed registration, test currency, documentation, no flying over people or moving vehicles, visual line of sight, visibility and ceiling, speed limits, etc).

    UAS NOTAMs or "DROTAMs" aren't required or necessary for most drone inspections, but you can file one through 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487-6867) if it makes you feel safer. Have a GPS coordinate reference and radius ready to go when you call, as well as a company name and planned UTC start/stop time of the inspection.

    Visual observers are also not required by the FAA, but they are recommended. There's no requirement to have a radio for sUAS operations either but it really helps with the ability to avoid traffic.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
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  4. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It might be in their city ordinance to require approval from the county but I doubt it. If the new manager at RHP is anything like the old one, no way he’d have any clue about that. Nothing regulatory other than what od148 said above and notification of the airport manager if within 5 miles.

    We just had a big RC event at DNN last weekend. They NOTAMd it for safety reasons but not required.

     
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  5. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    Haven't heard of the approval from the county thing ever. As far as I know, there is no requirement to notify any airport of your operation within 5 miles as long as you are flying under Part 107 and not 101E.
     
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  6. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    That’s right, he’s doing this as a commercial op. No need to notify. I don’t know why they just don’t combine 101 with 107 rules. They keep changing 101 til the point it’s just like 107. There’s even an aeronautical test in the works for 101.
     
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  8. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Hmm.. seems to me that won't be around long.

    Appreciate the help. I gave him some education on the traffic pattern, where airplanes will be etc... so he can stay out of the way.
     
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  9. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    There are localities that pass ordinances governing air operations, and they would be almost without exception preempted by federal law. Part 107 operators can use uncontrolled airspace like any other pilot providing they do not interfere with manned aircraft. Part 101 (model aircraft) operations are different. Part 107 certification assumes understanding of airspace use. A few years ago this was all different as the regs were quite confusing, unwieldy, and evolving.
     
  10. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Cleared for Takeoff

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    If your friend has his operators cert, wouldn't these questions be part of the test he needed to take?
     
  11. C-1 PILOT

    C-1 PILOT Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You beat me too it. The OP’s friend should KNOW, all spelled out in subsequent posts. Makes you wonder...
     
  12. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

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    Not an expert . . .but I recall reading about localities enacting and successfully enforcing ordinances about air operations - like not landing helicopters in the field behind Joe's bar, etc.
     
  13. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I get about one call a month from someone wanting to do drone (usually photoshoots) flights near our airport. I've got a drone, too. I notify myself when I want to fly it.
     
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  14. donjohnston

    donjohnston Line Up and Wait

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    Illinois requires all pilots to "register" their FAA pilot certificate with the state and pay (back when I did it, it was $5). When it came up for renewal, I wrote a couple of letters asking what was the purpose. The responses where absolutely idiotic. So I told them to take a hike. Never heard anything further.

    I thought that aviation regulation is entirely federal and that the states couldn't interfere.
     
  15. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Oregon did this for a while to cover SAR costs. I personally didn't have any problem with that, then they stopped doing it for Airmen but still require Aircraft registration.

    And I'm fine with that too, since here I pay $65/year and in California I'd be subject to personal property taxes of over $1000/year.
     
  16. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    On the ground yes. In the air is the purview of the feds. The principle of federal preemption for the regulation of aviation has been upheld by the courts numerous times. It doesn't necessarily dissuade communities from trying.

    We were just wrestling with this on our airport commission for some thing or other re: wayward drones. The FAA informed us in no uncertain terms: on the grass it's you, above the blades of grass is all us.
     
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  17. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    I’m surprised FAA hasn’t already challenged that as preemption if it covers anything above ground.
     
  18. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    I suspect if this (state regulation of Part 107 ops) was challenged it would almost certainly be struck down. It has to be challenged, though, and that could be expensive.
     
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  19. geezer

    geezer Pre-Flight

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    Trivial side issue here, the Federal Government does not control the first 60 feet above ground level, the property owner does. That went to the Supreme Court, years ago, about permits for Amateur radio towers. Lower than 60 feet they are not into FAA space, period.

    In the context here, less than 60 feet over some one else's land, they can shoot it down if no prior permission given. That has not yet been taken to the
    Supreme Court yet, but likely will. Local ordinances against discharge of firearms are the only protection a drone has when trespassing. In the cases I have read, the drone was destroyed, the owner received no compensation, and in one case, the property owner paid a fine for discharge of a firearm inside city limits. He paid, but promised to do it again if the drone came over his yard while his daughter was sunbathing.

    In the context here, the local airport authority controls that 60 feet OVER THE AIRPORT PROPERTY, and can limit drone flight there.

    Our airport manager has on multiple ties approved specific time and place drone flights, monitored by airport personnel.
     
  20. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    This rule doesn't exist under the FARs period.

    People also like to quote the 1946 supreme court case United States vs Causby which ruled in favor of a farmer who suffered damages from military aircraft flying over his farm at altitudes as low as 83ft AGL on approach to land at a nearby airfield. The only reason they ruled in favor of the farmer was due to actual damages to his livestock, specifically his chickens which panicked and died when the planes flew over. I see people quoting 60ft and 83ft as hard numbers for "their" airspace from these prior court cases, but until it is put into the FARs it is not a rule.

    As uncomfortable as it may make some people, drones operate in and abide by the rules and regulations of the National Airspace System and it extends to the surface regardless of property ownership. They count as full sized aircraft and it is a felony to shoot one down and a misdemeanor to discharge a firearm into the air.

    Your local airport cannot legally approve or deny drone flights according to the FARs. The regulations only state that you "notify" airports within 5 miles under Part 101E (none required under Part 107) and do not require or provide for airport supervision of drone flights in their airspace. There are exceptions for controlled airports under LAANC.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  21. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If the pilot's good, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that thing in so low, oh it's a sight to see. You wouldn't expect it with a big ol' plane like a '52, but varrrooom! The jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!
     
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  22. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    We run into this with part 103 operators flying paramotors and class E Surface area restrictions from which we are prohibited without authorization...Airport managers control the surface of their airfield and its use, that is it. They have zero regulation over the airspace nor the authority to approve or dictate how the airspace can be used absent local ordinaces. Airspace is all 100% ATC and FAA.
     
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  23. geezer

    geezer Pre-Flight

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    A friend of mine digs foundations for ARRL member radio towers. The are all 60 or less feet tall, so the FAA has no jurisdiction to require lights or high visibility paint. This is based on the Supreme Court ruling in the case the Federal Government lost. Until the law is changed, property owners have full use and control of that 60 foot space. My local airport erected a tall rotating beacon tower, and a weather station tower, on the airport property, and as far as I know, the FAA did not give them a permit.

    There is a long list of property owners who have shot down drones OVER THEIR OWN PROPERTY, and none have been successfully prosecuted for a violation of the FAR's that I have heard of. If, as you say, they are subject to all the regulations of the full size aircraft, they must not fly within the statutory limits of me when I am out doors?

    I have a relative who flies his drone over other peoples property, but either above 100 feet, or with written permission.

    Can you give an example of an FAA prosecution for a drone shot down at a less than 60 foot altitude?

    If so, I stand corrected.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  24. geezer

    geezer Pre-Flight

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    flyingron, I had an uncle who complained that the Kentucky Air National Guard jet jockies would fly very low over his farm, light off the afterburner, and roar away, so low that the smell of Jet A would drift down to ground level. Since he raised cattle, and they stampeded, he was not happy. The Commander put a stop to it, apparently one of the pilots had a friend nearby to impress. The pilots impression with his Commander was not improved by his flying so low.

    By the way, I am in your neck of the woods, and have flown out of GAI, as well as BWI, DCA, ADW, CGS. You sure have to know the rules to stay out of the FEDERAL cobweb of rules.
     
  25. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not my neck of the woods anymore. I've been in NC for a few years now.

    That quote was General Buck Turgeson (George C. Scott) in Dr. Strangelove.
     
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  26. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    So much wrong with these arguments, but I'll start here. The FAA does not give building permits...for anything! They do request a Form 7460-1 be filed so they can evaluate the effect of a structure on aeronautical activity, and will give an evaluation, but it is not a permit. Permitting is up to the local authority having jurisdiction. Larger and/or more proactive airports will work with local jurisdictions to enact height zoning to protect their Part 77 Airspace.

    As far as drones are concerned, that is an FAA and ATC related authorization, and airspace starts at the surface. If you fly at 1 foot AGL in a prohibited area, you are technically in violation of FARs and could be subject to penalty. Now is the FAA going to know you flew your Walmart drone 5 feet off the ground in your back yard in a Class B, probably not.

    As far as the OP's post about commercial drone operation. His friend should be aware of the LAANC program and utilize it before operating in any controlled airspace, including Class E to the surface. Doing anything else is technically a violation.

    How many drone pilots have the FAA prosecuted? I have no idea. I've never met one.
     
  27. geezer

    geezer Pre-Flight

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    Not to be argumentative here, but the power company did not have to put a 500 watt flashing light on top of their 400 foot microwave towers? Or side lights? Or paint them alternating orange and white? The company also put side lights and top lights on the smoke stacks.

    The power line towers near airports also have lights on them.

    They were required by somebodies law to notify the FAA if any of those lights burned out. And failure to notify produced fines from the FAA.

    The FAA may not grant a permit, but they sure control the lighting, and in some cases the height of anything above 60 feet, including the smoke stacks of one of the Washington DC power plants, limited to 60 feet, for some reason. Maybe a coincidence? The company put lights on them any way, they are not as one way as the government on such things.

    They have no control of towers less than 60 feet AGL, unless they are in runway approach paths. Until recently, there was no state or county law restricting such towers near airports in MD.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  28. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The threshold for tower lighting comes at 200' the official (not near airports) FAA altitude for obstructions. We erected a 199 foot tower when I was involved in radio for obvious reasons (we still lit it). The FAA is indeed responsible for making approval on "hazards to air navigation," primarily towers and the like near airports.
     
  29. Flocker

    Flocker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That was us in the LSA that taxied by. Pretty cool event BTW...
     
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  30. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    It appears to me that it’s merely a permit to operate a business in NC. States requiring business licenses and/or permits for aviation companies has a long history that has not been determined to be preemption.
     
  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Business license without test, fine. Testing what FAA thinks is required, over the line maybe.

    Won’t go away until challenged and nobody has any economic reason to challenge it. So it’ll be around forever. Like lots of things nobody asked any local or national government, whatever applies, to do in the first place.
     
  32. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    Those NC boys know how to squeeze blood from turnips, too.
     
  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I’d guess there’s no conflict there...the state can use whatever means they feel is appropriate to determine qualification.
    True.