About Jennifer Pidgen

As COO and majority owner of of Sundance Media Group (SMG), Jennifer is dedicated to developing sUAS/UAV training programs, overall logistics, and operations for SMG. Co-author of several UAS books, Jennifer guides agencies and organizations with sUAS program implementation. With 22 years of marketing experience within the consumer electronics and photo/ video channels, Jennifer channels her expertise into cultivating mutually-beneficial partnerships and building a successful and safe sUAS/UAV community.

Hiring an sUAS/Drone Field Service Provider? You’ll wanna read this…

Organizations looking to hire a Drone Services Provider/contractor (DSP) or training provider are faced with so many choices (and questions), it’s understandable when confusion clouds the process. To help with details that will smooth some of the edges in the interview process, here are a few tips for hiring a Drone Service or Training provider.

1)  Request their Remote Pilot Certificate. Many refer to this as a “license,” but it is a certificate issued by the FAA to persons that have passed their written Part 107 testing examination. DSPs and training personnel should both be able to produce this carded document on demand. We have discovered several “trainers” instructing without holding this certification, which could potentially create legal issues for the hiring agency, and there are many DSP’s who do not hold this certificate.

Be aware that having this certificate offers no evidence whatsoever that the certificate holder has any skill, and does not demonstrate their hours of flight time nor flight experience.

It is important to note that hiring a non-certificated pilot carries large fines for the hiring agency/individual. Do not hire a non-certificated sUAS operator.

2)   Ask to see a certificate (proof) of insurance. Some DSP and instructors hold full-time insurance, while less professional operations purchase insurance per flight.  They should hold at minimum, a million dollar liability policy. Ensure their insurance is written by a known company. There are a few inexpensive, fly-by-night insurance companies available to DSP’s.  A professional, business-focused DSP should be able to immediately provide proof of insurance or Certificate of Insurance.  Things can go wrong with any project; ensure your company, property, and business are protected by the DSP’s insurance policy. This is often one of the most overlooked aspect of an operation, and if the pilot does not have insurance, the person or organization hiring the pilot is at risk.  Many/most DSP and training organizations will have hull insurance to replace their aircraft in the event of an incident, while many “wing it” without liability coverage. It’s not uncommon for large companies or event management to require a certificate of insurance that specifically names them as a beneficiary of the insurance in the event of a claim. Without liability insurance, we recommend the training or service provider not be hired, or if hired, an understanding that risk exists.

 

3) Peruse their website. Are the images seen on their website relevant to the job to be flown? More importantly, is the DSP the source of the images? It’s common for low-experience DSP to liberally “borrow” from other websites, presenting images as intimated evidence of their work. The difficulty is knowing whether they captured the images themselves (or not). One quick method of determining a photo’s origins is to right click the image and choose “Search Google for this Image.” Click the image to see how many results come up in a search.
In this particular example (as
presented on several sites intimating the DSP is active in Public Safety), the image was not captured by a sUAS, but rather a hillside shot from a well-known AP photographer (image courtesy Associated Press).

Following Hurricane Irma for example, disaster images popped up across the web, with unqualified DSP’s intimating they captured the images and have the FEMA qualifications for disaster or insurance-related work when in practice, they do not.

It’s much easier to hire someone for real estate imaging than for a construction site capture that will be stitched into an orthogrammatic image, just as it’s more difficult to find a DSP that has knowledge of flare stack inspections vs finding someone to document a community marathon or event.  Ensure the DSP has knowledge surrounding specific needs to guarantee everyone’s happiness at the end of the flight. This is also a safety issue. Having a photo on a website should not be an indicator of activity nor proficiency.

4) View a reel of their work. This isn’t necessary when selecting a training organization, but is critical if the work being hired involves images, video, or data analysis output. Try to determine if they are the organization that captured the video or if the video has been “borrowed” from other websites similar to the example above. 

Are they proficient in shooting quality video or photos? Are they able to properly use tools such as Pix4D, AgiSoft, DroneDeploy for final output and data evaluation?

If using an aggregator, ask if the DSP has skills specific to the area where they’ll be working. Many drone pilots are very capable of shooting nice photos, but have little to no training/skill for specific tasks such as real estate or inspection images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Does the DSP hold any active operational waivers? This is critical if flight beyond sunset or prior to sunrise is required, and needed for flight over people, altitudes beyond 400’, flight in clouds, and other regulated activity. Without these, certain classifications of flight may not be accessible to the DSP nor the client.

If images like this one are seen on the website, it’s clear that the pilot does not observe FAA regulation, placing both the client and the pilot at risk for regulatory response by the FAA.

(image courtesy of ABC)

5) Who owns the original images/video? Spell this out in a Work for Hire contract if the client wants to own the source material. Most DSP’s will charge an additional fee if they do not retain rights to the original work. Determine how the work data will be kept secure in any event. Copyright nearly always belongs to the photographer/person who captured the images unless a signed Work for Hire agreement is part of the discussion.

6) If seeking a training provider, ask about their curriculum, training materials, and area of training. When it comes to flight, online-training is effectively useless, and practical flight programs require clear objectives with pre-test and post-training flight evaluations. One of the most valuable experiences a pilot or pilot’s organization can have is to be evaluated by a qualified third party.  Look for providers that embrace the Part 141 training pathway.

Look for any specialized certifications such as ISO audits, AUVSI’s TOP program certification, FAA certifications, or certifications from an other aviation-related training organization. Generally speaking, there is a significant difference between an instructor who teaches sUAS with risk-mitigation, and a super-hot, great sUAS pilot.

Ask about documentation that the pilot candidate will be taking with them post-instruction.

Identify what sort of post-training re-certification or recurrent training is recommended or required. Having a certificate from a reputable flight school will generally aid in applying for operational waivers and in some cases, may inspire an insurance provider to offer a discount based on training documents.

Hiring a DSP or training services provider/contractor in the world of Aviation isn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem.  It’s not terribly different than the facade buildings of the 19th century; something looks great on the surface, but in actuality, the backside is found wanting.

UAS are regulated by federal law, and any organization wants to take steps to ensure their services and education fall within all parameters of regulations. Following the above steps should help any organization avoid pitfalls related to safety and quality work.

PRESS RELEASE: Global Security Exchange X-Learning Stages to Address Intersection of Security and Technology

FOR RELEASE:  September 18, 2018

Media Contact:
Peggy O’Connor
pr@asisonline.org
+1.703.518.1415

AERIAL VEHICLE OPERATIONS CENTER/AVOC to be on display at GSX, demonstrating present and future technologies for sUAS in Security Operations

Alexandria, VA – September 15, 2018  Security is an ever-evolving landscape and sUAS (Drones) are an undeniable,  significant component of future security operations. sUAS are disrupting virtually every corner of the security, law enforcement, and event management industries.

Sundance Media Group (SMG) and their AVOC will be center stage at the Global Security Exchange (GSX) conference being held Sept 23-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In the first year of its rebrand following a 63-year history as the ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits, GSX is expected to attract more than 20,000 operational and cyber security professionals and 550 exhibitors for the industry’s flagship event. ASIS International is the world’s largest association for security management professionals.

“The AVOC is a game-changer in event security and security operations demonstration,” said Jennifer Pidgen, COO of SMG, “The technology and ability have already demonstrated their value in a post 10/1 environment. “ Coupling aerial robotics with automated perimeter security, 360 video, and a low-profile, controlled environment makes for a cost-effective, low profile presence for outdoor venue security and perimeter monitoring.  Attendees of the GSX conference will have opportunity to walk through the AVOC, see the latest technology in simulated use, speak with sUAS experts in the security and law enforcement sectors, and gain a deeper understanding of how sUAS are currently being implemented, and how security organizations may implement sUAS in the future near and far.

Douglas Spotted Eagle, Director of Educational Programming said, “we are thrilled to be a part of the GSX experience, demonstrating security and forensic applications of sUAS for both day and night functions, controlled through our AVOC, as well as outside the AVOC for smaller events. The computer horsepower, display systems, and aircraft combine for a near invisible presence in the skies as overwatch and perimeter security, and we believe attendees of the GSX event will be surprised and enthusiastic about the opportunity to know more about drones in this changing environment.”

At GSX, the exhibit hall will be transformed into a learning lab environment featuring thousands of security products, technologies and service solutions, as well as immersive learning opportunities designed to connect the current threat landscape, as well as emerging risks, with leading solutions available in the marketplace. New features available on this year’s show floor include:

X-Learning Theaters:

X Stage—features leading-edge technologies and their impacts across the industry, examining innovations like blockchain and cryptocurrencies, AI, drones and robotics, social media and the digital self;

Xcelerated Exchange Stage—provides a forum for the critical discussions that need to take place between practitioners and solution providers to proactively address the current and future security landscape; and

Xperience Stage—showcases case studies and other tried-and-true best practices that address security challenges facing practitioners across all industry sectors, including active shooter scenarios, bullying in the healthcare industry, and the risks associated with hosting a public event at cultural institutions.

Career HQ, with new career fair and enhanced career center:
Job seekers will have access to resume reviews, a headshot studio, career coaching, professional development sessions and networking opportunities with employers and peers—all free. The new career fair will have top companies looking to hire talent, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Apple.

D3 Xperience (Drones, Droids, Defense):
Supported by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), D3 will deliver an immersive learning experience focused on the impact of Unmanned Systems on the security industry. Education and demos will showcase the emerging technology around the use of drones, droids and counter-UAV defense systems.
Innovative Product Awards (IPAs) Showcase:

The 2018 Innovative Product Awards highlights the new products and services on the GSX show floor that are poised to disrupt the security marketplace. The submission deadline is August 3.

In addition to these features, the exhibit floor will house an International Trade Center and the ASIS Hub, which includes access to ASIS Council representatives, live streaming interviews, and fireside chats.

“We have completely re-engineered GSX to provide more opportunities for security practitioners, solution providers, students, military and first responders. From Career HQ and the International Trade Center to our three unique theaters of education and live demos, attendees and exhibitors will find tremendous value in our immersive, engaging, and informative expo hall,” said Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president, ASIS International. “There is no other event that compares to what GSX is offering this year, and we’re just getting started. We will continue to evolve and grow GSX in the years ahead as a part of our new brand promise to unite the full spectrum of security professionals to create the only global “must attend” security event.”

GSX brings together attendees, speakers, exhibitors and press from more than 100 countries. To learn more and to register, visit www.GSX.org/register. Members of the press are eligible to receive a free all-access pass, including keynote presentations, education sessions, and the show floor. Email pr@asisonline.org with your media credentials to register.

###

About Global Security Exchange

Entering its 64th year, Global Security Exchange (formerly the ASIS International Annual Seminar & Exhibits) is the world’s most comprehensive event for security professionals worldwide, dedicated to addressing fast-paced changes across the industry with a focus on immersive learning, revitalized networking, and a reimagined exhibit floor.

Attendance at GSX directly supports scholarship programs and the development of education, certification, and standards and guidelines year-round. ASIS International remains dedicated to expanding and enriching knowledge sharing, best practices, and peer-to-peer connections so security professionals across disciplines—and at all stages of their career—can get access to the information and resources they need to succeed. For information, visit www.GSX.org.

About  Sundance Media Group

Founded in 1996, Sundance Media Group/SMG began as a training organization focused on cameras, codecs, and post-production technology. In 2004, the company began training in aviation technology, adding sUAS in 2011. In 2012, SMG produced the world’s first UAS training conference at the National Association of Broadcasters Post Production World Conference and is an ISO-compliant organization.

With experts in Public Safety, Construction, Vertical Inspection, Real Estate, and Cinematography, SMG instructors may be found speaking at technical, aviation, and UAS conferences around the globe. For more information on SMG, please visit www.sundancemediagroup.com 

Press Release: Nevada Highway Patrol A.V.O.C Tour

Our partners within the Nevada Department of Public Safety and the Nevada Highway Patrol have issued a Press Release for the guided tour of the Sundance Media Group A.V.O.C. (Aerial Vehicle Operations Center) this coming Thursday – August 30th.  JOIN US for a guided walk-through at 1:30pm.

Read their full Press Release here:  AVOC guided tour at NHP Socom

By | August 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PRESS RELEASE: Aerial Vehicle Operations Center hits the skies of Southern Nevada, Utah

Mobile command post first of its kind in the South West

 

Las Vegas, NV, February 6, 2018:  Sundance Media Group (SMG) announces the Aerial Vehicle Operations Center (AVOC) for unmanned aerial operations. “We’re very excited about the AVOC, as it not only brings our operations to a more broad level, but also allows us to expand our operational ability,” says James Spear, pilot/instructor at SMG.  “The cooled, large interior operating space with multiple computer stations and operational components designed for night flight allow us to support Search and Rescue missions, overwatch, and other support activities in addition to our more common UAV activities in construction site data, real estate image capture, and training operations.”

The mobile operations center is self-contained with shore, generator, or battery power ability. In addition to supporting up to four UAS operators at one time, the AVOC is capable of delivering data in real-time to any organization requiring live video, photo, thermal image or data transfer.

“Combined with our Class B and Class B night operations waivers, SMG is able to satisfy virtually any client requirement, says Jennifer Pidgen, COO of SMG. “Our waivers, the AVOC, our many pilots that are certificated Airman, Instructor/Examiners, Advanced, Ground Instructors added to our 22 years of technology-focused training leave no doubt that we are the premiere training and post-production offering in the Southwest.”

The AVOC is the core of the field-training component of the SMG instructor/examiner program which trains UAS pilots to also be instructors, generating in-house training programs for corporations and organizations intending to field a fleet of UAS.

“Our training organization is quite different from the majority of training programs in the US,” explains Douglas Spotted Eagle, Director of Educational Programming at SMG, “Rather than simply being pilots that decided to teach, we have implemented aviation standards and training requirements that at the core, are about educational excellence first, risk mitigation-training second, and UAS operations third. Anyone can fly a drone. Yet few 107 pilots have aviation backgrounds and culture, in addition to understanding ISO risk mitigation practices. We offer that background, and that’s why we have so many State, Local, and Federal clients pass through our doors.”

For Release August 21, 2018

Sundance Media Group Contact:  Jennifer Pidgen      Ph: 801.231.4911       Email: jennifer@sundancemediagroup.com

 

 

Sundance Media Group Training with DMA and Yuneec

Sundance Media Group, LLC (SMG) has been busy this past quarter of 2017 and in an effort to share more of our experiences within the UAS industry, we will post articles more often.  No easy feat when we are more often in the field than in the office!

With most of the clients we train, there is a discussion of which platform is best to use.  Our answer, or rather question, is always the same:  “What is the purpose of UAV as a Tool within your business?”  Every UAV has a slightly different set of benefits and functions and it’s important to source the best equipment for the job at hand.

Early in August, there was an announcement that shook up the drone industry:  U.S. Army grounded its use of all drones and components made by Chinese manufacturer DJI citing concerns of “cyber vulnerabilities”.  As a result, several branches of the military have been investigating other UAV/UAS options.

Subsequent to having their original selection of UAV aircraft grounded for security breaches, the Defense Media Activity (DMA), reached out to SMG for consultation and to identify and train on aircraft that would meet the security directive issued by the Department of Defense.  The DMA is a component of the Department of Defense, in use of UAV for newsgathering, image capture, and field deployment.

Sundance Media Group recommended the Yuneec H520 and Typhoon H480 platforms, and the DMA immediately went about verifying the security statement provided by Yuneec USA regarding security of their platform.

From Yuneec’s Press Release from August 29, 2017:

“Yuneec’s customers recognize the importance of keeping data and images secure. The Yuneec data ecosystem empowers users and organizations to control their data at all times. Yuneec commercial sUAS do not collect and do not share telemetry or visual data to internal or external parties.”

On September 18, 2017, the Department of the Army, the sponsor of UAV programming, did certificate the Yuneec platform as a secure system that may be used for VFR DoD activity in accordance with existing COA’s. The impact of this certification is that the DoD’s DMA division has been able to immediately, securely replace their previous aircraft with an authorized platform that meets security requirements of the military.

According to leadership at the DMA, the Yuneec platform is the only “ready to fly”/ “off the shelf” product currently enjoying the Airworthiness certification for military use. While the new Yuneec H520 was not immediately available for the DMA to purchase, the DMA purchased several Yuneec Typhoon H’s.

Ultimately, the DMA contracted Sundance Media Group for training on their new Yuneec Typhoon H aircraft and with this DoD certification, SMG went to work in providing access to the certificated aircraft, creating a specific training manual and operational documentation for the DMA team.

The SMG team spent September 22 & 23 working with the DMA.  Our instructors, Luisa Winters and Douglas Spotted Eagle spent time going over standard safety practices with the Yuneec platform, the theory of night flight, and in the field working on practical operational use of the aircraft.  As beta testers of the Yuneec H520 platform, we also had the opportunity to demonstrate the new Yuneec H520 platform.

The DMA serves as a direct line of communication for news and information to U.S. forces worldwide. The agency presents news, information and entertainment on a variety of media platforms, including radio, television, internet, print media and emerging media technologies and Sundance Media Group is pleased to be a provider of services that not only meet the quality requirements of the Department of Defense, but also meeting the security requirements set forth by the Department of Defense.

The DMA also had their team film our training days for the creation of a DoD video showcasing how the DMA will be using these sUAS as a media tool.  Once that commercial is finalized, we will be sure to share the link out as well.

Educate.  Mitigate.  Aviate.  Empower your Aerial Workflow.

 

(On a side note, during our day training, we were graced with the presence of a bald eagle!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | October 1st, 2017|Drone, Regulations, sUAS, Training, UAV|0 Comments

Plan your UAV Flight for Inspiring Eclipse photos!

Yuneec Typhoon H near Red Rock Canyon
Yuneec Typhoon H near Red Rock Canyon

2017 brings an opportunity of a total solar eclipse, a rare and exciting event. In recent times, the only place to view a full eclipse has been unpractical as being in remote areas or on the ocean have been the only viewpoints of quality. This year is much different!

cation in the USA is in the central corridor, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see the eclipse in your area.   Learn more about the eclipse, its path, and what to expect from here. Sundance Media Group will be in Hopkinsville, Kentucky where there will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality where the day will become almost as dark as night!

Capturing the sun with the moon overlaid will not be very practical with a drone. Simply put, a very small lens system with a wide angle (as most drones offer) will record only a tiny dot in the sky, and this is why long, telephoto lenses are required for proper direct capture of the eclipse.

However, the shadow of the moon passing over the earth is as dramatic as the eclipse itself, and a drone is ideal for this sort of image capture. Still images, time lapse images, or video can all be very exciting when captured from altitude.

Capturing the movement of the moon shadow over the earth will be very dramatic, and quite easy to capture with most any drone. We recommend the Yuneec Tornado, Typhoon H, or Q500 with the CGO‐series cameras.

To capture the eclipse properly, an ND filter is required. If capturing over water, an ND64 is recommended. If capturing over land, an ND16 will suffice. PolarPro and Freewell both manufacture ND filters for use on the CGO3+ camera.

The Neutral Density (ND) filter will slow down the camera’s shutter, allowing for smooth movement of the shadow, while also reducing the dynamic range, providing for clearer contrast and deeper color.

A wide open area is preferable. Being as high on a hill or other elevation with an unobstructed view is also extremely desireable. Altitude is the best way to capture the dramatic movement of the shadow.

With regulations preventing altitudes of over 400’, larger areas and hilltops are very important for the best recording of the experience. The extremely wide‐angle of the CGO3+ camera system will help capture a broader perspective, giving the shadow a very dramatic flair as it moves across the curvature of the earth.

The key to ensuring you capture the images you want is PLANNING your flight.  Safety is paramount as it is likely there will be many curious eclipse observers. You will want to ensure that where you are flying is legal and safe. Here are a few planning tips:

■   Ensure your UAV, controller and camera current on software/firmware updates

■   Scout the area you plan on flying; Check the airspace you plan to fly.

  • File a NOTAM, or “Notice To Airmen.” Dependent on the desired airspace, hobby users can electronically request ownership of a particular area above them at an altitude of higher than 400’. Requesting a NOTAM costs nothing, and is a good safety measure, particularly in areas where helicopters and fixed wing aircraft may be flying.

■     Pre-Plan the steps of your flight to ensure you capture your footage!

  • Practice the angles!
  • Between today and the eclipse, fly the drone to high elevations/altitudes to find the best camera angle at the best times of day for your eclipse view.

Take note of the sun’s location, proximate objects in the foreground, and identify (and write down) the best camera angle that shows more earth than sky. Keep only the horizon in the upper portion of the frame during this time.

Plan on allowing the drone to hover with no movement. The eclipse shadow will move quickly; approximately 2 minutes of totality in the central areas of the US; being prepared is important.

What you DO NOT want to do is spend an entire eclipse event messing around with your settings, or viewing it entirely through your remote/ground station. PRACTICE these angles so that you are able to naturally observe the phenomenon of the eclipse with your eyes (covered by protective eyewear, of course).

Although the small Yuneec Breeze is not recommended for high altitude flight, if you’re in an area where a hilltop and few obstructions exist, the Breeze may also be used. While there are no filters available for the Breeze, Neutral Density gel is available at any theatrical supply, and may be taped in place over the camera lens during this rare, exciting event.

Take caution to not point the camera lens of any camera system directly at the sun without proper MD filtration. It is very likely the intensity of the sun will burn the imager hardware of the camera, permanently damaging it.  Eclipse sunglasses are recommended as well. Here are are a few more eclipse safety tips to know about.

Above all else, practice standard UAV flight safety techniques. Avoid flying over persons, property, or animals, stay within required altitude limits, and keep a watchful eye on the drone during the 2 minutes of the total eclipse.

As we mentioned, SMG will be in Hopkinsville, KY to experience the “path of totality”. If you are in the area, be sure to register with the area organizers and drop by to say “hi”!

Fly Safe and capture some inspiring images! Be sure to drop by our Facebook page and share with us!

FAST LANE TO PART 107 CERTIFICATION

With the FAA’s announcement of the new FAR Part 107, there seems to be a tremendous confusion about obtaining a 107 certification. Drones Plus is happy to assist in this, as truly, it’s not very difficult. Here’s a quick-start guide to receiving your very own Part 107 certification from the FAA (when it becomes available, and assuming you’re not currently a rated Airman,who are able to take the test now, see below image). ).

 

SO YOU WANT TO OBTAIN A 107 CERTIFICATION!

  • First step; download and fill in the 8710-1 application from the FAA website, for a student pilot certificate. Fill it out, but DO NOT submit it online. Plan on going to the local FSDO with it (maybe take a blank second copy, just in case of an error).
  • Set up an appointment with an inspector at your local FSDO office.  They’ll check the application. This will start the currently no-cost Homeland Security background check process. Alternatively, you can wait until the 8710-13 form becomes available in July/August and take the test before or after the application. Some would prefer to get their security check out of the way.

 

  • Study for the Airmen’s test that will be administered at one of over 600 flight schools across the country.  The test is not currently available, so now is the time to start studying. I highly recommend purchasing the Study Buddy application from your Google Play or Itunes App store. Study hard. You can study it with the FAA course too, although it’s quite sparse.
  • Take the test when it’s available in August.
  • Receive a 17 digit code, use IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application) to file FAA Form 8710-13 (which doesn’t exist yet)
  • BAM! 107 Certified!

There are a few other caveats to the Part 107 conversation; you must meet the following criteria.

  • The minimum age for a Remote Pilot in Command is 16-years-old;
  • The maximum altitude has been changed to 400 feet AGL (above ground level);
  • There is a read, speak, write and understand English requirement; and
  • Current Part 61 manned aircraft certificate holders will only have to take and pass an online test .

SO, DOES THIS MEAN THERE IS NO REASON FOR A 333 EXEMPTION?

NO! The 333 Exemption still carries specific privileges and abilities to request special types of flights.If you want to do more than what’s in the rules, you’ll need to work with the FAA and a 333 makes this a bit easier.

HAPPY FLYING!

If you like this series, please share and “like?” It’s the one thing that inspires me to continue authoring them.

 

PUBLISHED BY

DSE

I’ve been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I’m feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what’s happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.

By | July 22nd, 2017|Regulations, sUAS Regulation|0 Comments

Breaking The Drone-Code: 336, 333, 107

An understanding of the Drone Code may help clarify the lines the FAA and UAS/UAV/drone owners have drawn in the sand for each other, and like sand on a beach, the Drone-Code may seem to shift at the whims of legislation, lobbyists, manufacturer organizations, government agencies, and UAS users.  It doesn’t. However, like a beach, sometimes it’s difficult distinguishing shifting sands vs the underlying large rocks.

UAS/UAV/Drone users define the lines through intentional ignorance of the framework setup by the FAA and hobby associations and herein is the focus.

333 Exemption

The reason for the FAA 333 Exemption is to allow drone owners/pilots to commercially fly UAS/UAV for a variety of purposes such as cinema, corporate video, aerial inspections, surveying, mining, law enforcement, orthomosaics, mapping, monitoring construction, and other professional purposes. Currently the FAA views and classifies UAS as “Civil Aircraft.” This means that until Part 107 is executed, the legal perspective classifies UAS with the same classification as manned aircraft. Currently the focus is on manned vs unmanned vehicles, although this is shifting as the two industries continue to cross over and blur the lines. At the time of this writing, there are just over 5,000 exemptions that have been granted.

If a lawyer or organization is asking anything over $1000.00 for a 333 Exemption service, it’s a rip-off. Fly away.

336 Exemption

The FAA has instituted what is known as a 336 Exemption that allows drone owners to fly their drones recreationally, for purposes of fun and personal use. Specifically, it states that 336 defines model aircraft as aircraft. Commercial UAS operations are prohibited without FAA authorization. The 336 statute requires model aircraft to be flown strictly for hobby or recreational purposes and within the operator’s Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).

Many “recreational users” want to consider themselves skilled professionals at taking imagery of homes for their buddy who is a real-estate salesperson, or film a marathon for the race participants so they’ll have an event video, or even just taking great shots to ‘give’ to a stock footage company. The web is full of posts suggesting “just wing it” and “take the risk, the FAA isn’t going to hassle you.” The web is equally filled with drone owners completely ignorant of aviation standards such as those found in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) not to mention the operators who struggle and out-right deny to understand that a remote-controlled device (RC) can be in any way, construed a danger to manned aircraft. While many of them consider themselves “informed,”

This is where the greatest communication challenges seem to arise.

A recent example is demonstrated by a non-333 Exemption holder being invited to film a marathon race in Brooklyn, NY. As this chart shows, the Brooklyn area is virtually entirely a Special Flight Rules area, and not only would 336 flight be a challenge, but a 333/Commercial Flight would likely not be covered without separate permissions.

 

However, the members of the drone community indicated that the non-333 Exempt drone owner should “go ahead and fly the gig, no one will care” and “The FAA would have to prove you’re not doing it for fun” even though the non-exempt operator himself, was questioning the legality of his intentions.

Not the best plan in any circumstance, but contacting the local Flight Standards District Office/FSDO might be a good idea.

The FAA is at some point in time going to execute a new FAR section, Part 107. This was originally scheduled to occur on April 1, 2016. It wasn’t implemented on time due to language revisions, but is expected to execute in June or September of 2016. This addition to the current FARs puts drones into their own category rather than the current Frankenstein amalgam of Part 55, Part 61, Part 91, Part 101, Part 103, and Part 105 with bits and bytes cobbled from other FARs.

Part 107 offers a better separation of UAS from manned aircraft, and requires a knowledge exam to be passed by potential operators (note the use of the word “operator” vs “pilot.” Pilots fly aircraft, operators fly UAS).

Proposed Part 107 Operator requirements

  • Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. This would likely be your local flight school location or through an agency like Drones Plus.
  • Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.
  • Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
  • Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
  • Be at least 17 years old.
  • Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule. Flight and maintenance logs are expected to be required, just as manned aircraft require.
  • Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
  • Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.

The Benefits:

No need for previously licensed FAA pilot as operator. The Part 107 aeronautical knowledge test contains only segments from the Private Pilot test that are relevant to sUAS operations and nothing more.

An extra VO (Visual Observer) is not required for flights. One operator is the only individual responsible for the flight and the location of the sUAS. This relieves the burden of having to employ a two man team but it does require a much more observant operator who is both watching the computer and the sUAS at all times. As a risk-assessment professional, it will continue to be my recommendation that all commercial operations consist of a minimum of two individuals.

No need for Air Traffic Control clearance in class G airspace.  In summary it means that uncontrolled airspace up to 500 feet is available to operators. This would negate the need for a COA (certificate of authorization) unless flights near airports (A,B,C,D airspace) or in otherwise restricted spaces are the intention.

Part Two of this discussion will delve into understanding airspace for UAV operations, whether 336 or 333.

PUBLISHED BY DSE: 

I’ve been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I’m feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what’s happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.

By | April 30th, 2016|Regulations, UAV|0 Comments

WITNESS TO HISTORY

1908 was a big year for the world; the automobile found its way to the masses through the invention of the assembly line, created by Henry Ford. Not only did the mass-production line bring affordable prices, it also created the middle class. up

We’re in much the same birthspace; UAV/Drones are just beginning to grow into toddler-hood and millions of individuals (88% male, by some polls) are rapidly acquiring the skills and technology required to foster and grow this new industry.

Some view drones as mere toys, sideshows for businesses and leisure users.

Nothing could be further from accurate.

Drones (Some hate the word, yet it has rapidly become accepted in non-military circles) are being used in many industries already. Oil fields, solar fields, search and rescue, law enforcement, fire control, delivery of life-saving or retail goods, terrain mapping, agriculture, artists, wildlife management, mining, land management, fishing, cable/telecommunications inspection, real estate, and so many other industries are already using aerial technology. There are even underwater drones to inspect hulls of boats, ships, docks, etc.

What many may not immediately realize is the growth industry behind drones. Manufacturers aside, there are parts providers, technicians, sales people, support people, pilots, operators, and vendors of services. Colleges all across the globe are scrambling to develop programs similar to those that Humber College in Toronto, Ontario have had for a while now. Open source software drives commercially-focused drones such as those from 3DRobotics company, and computer-aided design plays a role in developing commercial custom drones.

DSC09976
Angelo builds a custom multirotor for surveillance work

Just as the automobile delivered the middle class to America and other parts of the world, the drone/UAV industry is poised to continue that weave in modern society whether in medicine, delivery, cinematography, transportation, or whatever else may come forward.

Whether it’s designing a custom solution for corporate or commercial work, or small-format cinematography, my team and I are here to assist you in taking full advantage of the shift in world progress.  We are committed to providing the most up-to-date information, advice, technology development, and resources to assuring our clients are presented with the most cost-effective, performance-balanced product possible.

PUBLISHED BY DSE:

I’ve been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I’m feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what’s happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.

DRONE PRIVACY CONCERNS? What you need to know NOW!

Communities, states, and even the Fed are discussing potential breach of personal privacy from sUAVs in the skies of today and more importantly, skies of tomorrow.

First and foremost, let’s dispel the thought that privacy in the modern world actually exists at all. Somewhere, some how, some system is monitoring, reporting, storing, and targeting each of us as we browse the web, use our mobile devices, or drive from place to place. The amount of personal information collected by Google, Amazon, and Apple is simply overwhelming and astounding. Because of these “snoops,” Apple and Google can accurately predict our buying cycles, clothing preferences, what sort of partner would be best, and how we’ll vote.

We’re monitored by traffic and security cameras 24/7. At a recent security conference, it was revealed that in the average mid-sized city, each person is photographed an average of (at least) 300 times per day. Security cameras live in our offices, on our roads, and even our laptops can be compromised to us the built-in camera to surveil us.

However, this article is about privacy from sUAV, typically in our homes. What about those situations?

DRONE PRIVACY

A friend recently contracted a roofer to do a roof inspection and provide advice on what may or may not be needed to bring his roof up to standard. The roofer had just purchased an sUAV to aid in roof inspections. He’s a new drone operator and technically operating outside of legal bounds (without a 333 commercial exemption).

Roof Inspection-UAV

In the process of this flight, a neighbor became very concerned about his privacy, enough so that he climbed out of his swimming pool to view the drone pilot, initially remaining hidden behind vines in the alley way before becoming confrontational.

Roof Inspection-UAV neighbor

During the drone flight, the pilot hadn’t noticed the neighbor in his swimming pool, without doing a slow-motion look at the footage from the roofing inspection.

Roof Inspection-UAV_neighbor-landing2

Can you spot the neighbor? On a small tablet, the person in the image is all but impossible to see, particularly in the very few seconds he’s in the frame during the “return to home and landing” process.

Roof Inspection-UAV_neighbor-landing

For those concerned with the pilot being able to “zoom in” on the subject (or the person concerned about their privacy) it’s important to note that UAV/drone cameras aren’t able to zoom. Zooming makes the already-moving image even more unstable, and therefore unusable for purposes of inspection. Currently, UAV/drones must be flown very close to the subject to obtain a clear image. However, I’ve taken a still from this video and blown it up more than 4X, which demonstrates the lack of quality when zooming during post-video/photo processes.

Roof Inspection-UAV_neighbor-landing-zoomed_In

Overall, the image is useless for purposes of privacy. The image doesn’t meet any media standard for printing, cannot be used for creating even a half-useful online image. Imagine someone using this quality for virtually any nefarious abuse of individual privacy.

There isn’t much there. EVen with a very high resolution 4K camera, the post-process zoom is effectively useless.

Persons such as the self-proclaimed “DroneSlayer” who shot a drone out of the sky for “taking pictures of his daughter” from an altitude of 200′ above the ground are severely misguided. In the case of the “DroneSlayer,” the shotgun-happy shooter claimed the drone was “10 feet above my fence” when GPS and flight logs demonstrate the drone was not lower than 200′ at any point in time of flight. In other words, it’s apparently difficult for some folks (likely most people) to ascertain altitude. As a skydiver intimately familiar with absolute height over ground, it is indeed, very difficult to ascertain altitude from the ground to the sky without references.

For those that feel some sort of safe harbor from drones “because our community passed laws recently,” know that most of the recently-passed laws are superceded by federal laws. The FAA controls the airspace above your home, not the local mayor or city council.

At this point in time, there is little to be concerned about with regards to privacy. Drones are noisy, the ability of a camera on a drone is very limited, and one will always know when a drone is “that close.”

If a UAV/Drone is flying close to your home, business, or person, look around. The operator/pilot is likely very close by and one can talk to the operator/pilot and learn about what they’re doing with the device.

But know this for certain; drone pilots are not out to surreptitiously take photos of you through your bedroom window, take video of your children playing in their backyard, or spy on your behaviors. The vast majority of UAV/drones out there simply lack the requisite technology to do so with a stealth signature.

PUBLISHED BY DSE:

I’ve been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I’m feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what’s happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.