Helicopter vs Drone...?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by dans2992, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Hypothetical question:

    Suppose a helicopter cruising at 200-300 AGL over a residential area (assume uncontrolled airspace) hits a drone.

    Who is at fault? Would the drone operator be in serious legal trouble? At that altitude, they have every right to fly there, as does the helicopter.
     
  2. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    Don’t drones have to give way to all manned aircraft?
     
  3. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Sure, but they might not have seen the helo in time, or misjudged altitudes or something.
     
  4. kkoran

    kkoran Cleared for Takeoff

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    That does not absolve them of their responsibility to avoid manned aircraft.
     
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  5. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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  6. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    A helo at 2-300’ does not ‘sneak up on you’.
    A drone pilot would never be able to use the defense he didn’t know it was coming.

    Same with ‘I couldn’t get out of his way’.
    A drone is 1000x more maneuverable, so no excuse there.

    Game, set, match; helo.
     
  7. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Me: "But I had the right of way!"

    My Dad: "Maybe they'll put that on your headstone."
     
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  8. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    The drone operator as they must yield to all aircraft per guidance and FARs. As to penalties depends on the situation and type aircraft which can vary from a slap on the wrist by local LEO up to $20K+ fines or criminal charges/jail. Unfortunately, as the number of close calls keep raising every year it just a matter of time before things will change for the worse.
     
  9. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Who’s at fault? If it gets to litigation, whoever has the deepest pocket is at fault
     
  10. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    In my experience all drones large/complex enough to cause problems (at least all DJI ones) have a "kill command" where the aircraft motors are immediately disabled and the aircraft drops out of the sky as a last ditch effort to avoid a collision. You can't undo it once you send the command so think of it like a Cirrus red-handle pull only without the parachute.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  11. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Irrelevant.

    Depending on which set of rules one is operating under:

    101.43 Endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.
    No person may operate model aircraft so as to endanger the safety of the national airspace system.

    or

    107.37 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.
    (a) Each small unmanned aircraft must yield the right of way to all aircraft, airborne vehicles, and launch and reentry vehicles. Yielding the right of way means that the small unmanned aircraft must give way to the aircraft or vehicle and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

    (b) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.
     
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  12. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    Then it would be the drone pilots fault. Kinda like if I hit a ballon in my helicopter... it’s always my fault. Of course the drone pilot doesn’t have much chance of getting killed unless the whole mess comes down on top of them
     
  13. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    Man, what a mess THAT would be!
     
  14. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Deaf remote pilot?
     
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  15. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I'm surprised that it doesn't have some sort of fail-safe command that it kills the motors (or 90% power reduction) until it reaches a preassigned altitude (like 20ft AGL) or similar based off of GPS-altitude, just to avoid smashing itself. I understand the need for a kill-command, in general. I'm just surprised it results in complete destruction of the unit.
     
  16. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    I always wondered how two deaf pilots transfer controls without there being at least a short span of time where no one was flying.
     
  17. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    I think the intention was to provide an ultimate control option if the aircraft no longer recognizes its orientation or is flying away erratically/with spotty control. If the drone doesn't know which way is up, how would it know where 20ft AGL is?

    I've never had to use it, but it's on my very short personal flyaway checklist (Aim antennas directly at aircraft, return to home button, ATTI mode, kill command).
     
  18. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    A hobbyist drone is one thing, but that about the coming commercial drones delivering packages from Amazon and such? Doubtless the operator is in a windowless room somewhere far away. Do such drones have the means to detect other aircraft that may not be squawking or using ADS-B out? There are a lot of aircraft with no electrical system out there, The drones even have to avoid "vehicles", which includes ultralights.

    That's the idea, an incentive to avoid doing anything that would required you to use the kill switch. :eek2:
     
  19. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    If a drone hits a no-electrical system aircraft, it would be the drone pilots fault.... just like if a car hits a pedestrian going 75mph.... it’s the car’s fault... I’d suggest looking both ways... and equipping with ADSB. ;)
     
  20. smv

    smv Pattern Altitude

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    That would be a mighty fast pedestrian... :D
     
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  21. Charlie Golf

    Charlie Golf Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Beat me to it. :)
     
  22. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    The beyond visual line of sight waiver is a massive undertaking to get a hold of. The company/entity has to make a very good case using a lot of high-tech/proven methods to see and avoid in the place of the PIC's eyes. I dont know about Amazon, but one of my Part 107 students went on to work at a company that has a BVLOS waiver that requires the use of a mobile radar trailer in conjunction with their aircraft.
     
  23. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    My experience was similar:

    Me: But I was right!

    Mom: You couldn't have been dead right.
     
  24. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Or part 135...

    https://freep-mi.newsmemory.com/?publink=25a8a3761_13437f2
    ""The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard,"
    "The drones will come equipped with "sense and avoid" technology to ensure the drones operate safely."

    No detail on how the technology works.
     
  25. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Probably ADSB?
     
  26. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel En-Route

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    Helicopter hits drone, the drone pilot is at fault no question.

    Back before drones existed I did a lot of kite photography. Launch a kite, attach a hanging RC gimbal camera rig to the line and then let out as much line as necessary to get the height you're looking to shoot from (typically 50-300'). Use an RC controller to spin and aim the camera rig and trigger the camera.

    So lets pose the same question. I'm out flying my kite rig and a low flying helicopter comes along and hits my rig. Am I at fault or are they?
     
  27. Seanaldinho

    Seanaldinho Pattern Altitude

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    In the ATC world one of the biggest buzz-acronyms right now is UTM - unmanned traffic management.

    This is focused on integrating the systems you are talking about into airspaces given the constraints of aviation and what not. The US has it tough because there are not as many requirements for aircraft to be equipped and GA aircraft are more common, but I am sure the many companies and universities working on ideas will figure something out. I'm sure there are a few webinars about UTM floating around on the interwebs.

    The FAA is also a slow adopter of technology, so I would expect to see UTM systems in place elsewhere for several years before it comes to the US.
     
  28. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    The aircraft they have there is a DJI M600 and with a max payload you are looking at maybe 12 mins of flight time total, unladen closer to 25-30 min. Plus the M600 series have less (unmodified) control range than basically all of their other smaller drones. No collision avoidance or visual positioning either.