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Category - Security,Safety,Legal
Posted - 02/02/2017 04:02pm
FAA: Keep your drone far, far away from the Super Bowl

by @stshank

The government doesn't just want to avoid an errant drone falling on the crowd at the football championship. It's grounding the aircraft for miles around.

To nobody's surprise, Super Bowl 2017 is off limits to drones. But it's not just the stadium where your quadcopter will be grounded. (Tough luck if you had hopes of an aerial video of crowds swarming through the parking lot.)

The Federal Aviation Administration, which sets rules for aircraft, has barred drones for a 34.5-mile radius around NRG Stadium in Houston, the agency said Wednesday. Breaking the rules could land you in jail for up to a year and $100,000 poorer if fined.

Most folks who got a drone for kicks over the holidays won't be too perturbed, but drones are are big in business now, too. They offer an eye in the sky for lots of photo and video needs, including real estate agents selling property, builders monitoring construction products and oil companies checking their refineries. If you might be affected, the FAA's B4UFLY app offers details about where drones are and aren't allowed.

A circular area of more than 3,700 square miles is pretty hard to police, but local law enforcement officials are aware of the ban, and NORAD -- the North American Aerospace Defense command -- is enforcing the ban, FAA spokeswoman Laura J. Brown said. Yes, those are the same folks who intercept unauthorized fighter jets and keep an eye out for nuclear missile attacks.

The temporary flight restrictions, which also prohibit some more conventional aircraft, are in effect 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. local time on Sunday, Feb. 5.

Los Angeles Times

The air rescue of a victim who fell 100 feet down seaside cliffs in Pacifica was abandoned Friday night after authorities say a local man flew his drone into the area to watch what was happening, forcing a helicopter crew to withdraw.

The rescue played out about 10:15 p.m. on the rocky shoreline below 320 Esplanade Ave., Pacifica police said.

First responders determined the person could not make it up the cliff by foot and called in the California Highway Patrol to help, authorities said. The CHP helicopter crew lowered a medic to the victim and prepared him to be hoisted up when other rescuers spotted the drone.

“Once the helicopter crew found out there was a drone on scene, they had to suspend the rescue operation and gain altitude to avoid a collision,” police said in a statement. “The drone’s operation could cause the helicopter to crash.”

Instead of hoisting the victim by air, paramedics and firefighters with North County Fire Authorities rappelled down the cliff, put the victim in a basket and brought him up with ropes. The operation took about two hours, officials said.

In the meantime, police went looking for the drone’s operator.

Residents in the area mentioned knowing a neighbor who flew a drone, so officers knocked on the door of 55-year-old Gerald Destremps.

Destremps admitted to flying the drone and allowed officers to confiscate it, Pacifica Police Capt. Joseph Spanheimer said.

He was cited with a misdemeanor charge of impeding first responders at the scene of an emergency.

As drones have become more prevalent in recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration and public agencies have made a concerted effort to alert the public to laws surrounding their use.

Regulations dictate how high drones can fly, how close they can operate near airports and their use during emergency operations.

Read the full article here

Category - Security,Legal
Posted - 01/18/2017 03:49pm
Using a drone during the inauguration could get you fined $1,414

Drone footage from Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump would be pretty cool to see for a lot of folks who won't be there. But it's not happening, unless some drone pilot out there is willing to risk a fat fine.

The nation's capital is legally closed to drones, as the Secret Service has ever-so-gently reminded the public in the days leading up to the inauguration. 

Piloting a drone in D.C., during the inauguration or otherwise, could earn you a very specific fine of $1,414. If it's a company drone, the drone's corporate owner could be subjected to a slightly less specific-sounding fine of $32,140. 

Presidential inaugurations take place on the National Mall, a national park, which means drone operators could be subject to an additional fine. Flying a drone in a national park in D.C. will cost you $85, which we're assuming would be tacked onto the possible $1,414 federal violation. 

The airspace around the nation's capital has been on lockdown since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Only aircraft, including drones, with clearance from the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration are allowed to fly over and around D.C.

If you're caught with a drone in the sky, the Secret Service has said "violators will have all equipment confiscated as evidence." That means phones and laptops, too.

Category - Safety,Security,Legal
Posted - 01/18/2017 03:40pm
US regulators hammer down on unauthorized drone use

The Federal Aviation Administration and SkyPan International in Chicago have settled a civil suit that was closely watched by the nascent commercial drone industry. The government agency said the privately held company flew its drones over New York City and Chicago from 2012 to 2014, violating its rules which barred drone operators from flying over densely populated areas without special government permission to do so. At the time, the FAA did not allow for commercial drone flights and didn't offer an exemption process yet.

The FAA originally sought a $1.9 million penalty from SkyPan in October 2015, representing the largest fine ever sought by the agency against a domestic drone operator. SkyPan, which was founded in 1988, provides aerial photography and data to real estate developers to help them with planning, sales presentations, and more.

The settlement has SkyPan agreeing to pay a much lower penalty of $200,000 to the FAA over three years, and creating public service announcements that promote safe use of drones and cooperation with the FAA within the industry this year. If SkyPan commits any violation of current FAA rules in the next year, it will pay $150,000 more. And if it fails to deliver those PSAs or adhere to other terms of the settlement, it will also pay $150,000 more.

SkyPan In a press statement, Skypan International did not admit to guilt but said it wanted to settle in order to avoid delays in other areas of its business. The company statement says SkyPan attained a so-called "333 exemption" from the FAA to fly drones for commercial purposes as soon as it could, in 2015.

The FAA-SkyPan settlement follows a case in Seattle  last week where the city charged and a jury convicted a man, Paul M. Skinner, of reckless endangerment after he crashed a 2 lb. drone into a building during the June 2015 Pride Parade there. The drone hit a woman in the head, and she suffered a concussion. Skinner is facing up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine with sentencing scheduled for Feb. 24th.

Category - Safety,FAA,Legal
Posted - 01/17/2017 04:39pm
Drone's operator detained for flying near Chinese airplane

By Euan McKirdy and Serenitie Wang, CNN, Updated 5:10 AM ET, Tue January 17, 2017

An amateur drone pilot captured up-close footage of a commercial airliner apparently coming in to land at a major Chinese airport.
An amateur drone pilot captured up-close footage of a commercial airliner apparently coming in to land at a major Chinese airport.

Story highlights

  • Amateur drone pilot captures close-up footage of commercial airliner

  • Authorities investigating after video surfaces on social media

Beijing (CNN)Chinese authorities have taken a dim view of a close call between a commercial drone and a passenger plane. The footage, shows the airliner descending for landing, apparently taken from the perspective of the unmanned drone, flying by at close range. Chinese state media reports that the drone's pilot has been detained by police. The airport police at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in Zhejiang province investigated the footage, which appeared on QQ, a popular instant messaging app. A briefing from the Zhejiang Provincial Police states that a 23-year-old Xiaoshan local launched the drone to film the sunset. "The drone ascended to 450 meters and filmed multiple scenes including several civilian airliners passing by. The aerial shoot lasted around 10 minutes. "Afterward, (the suspect) intercepted an eight-second part and uploaded it to a QQ group of aviation enthusiasts." It states that the drone pilot is an amateur aviation enthusiast who is not licensed to fly the equipment.

'Strong condemnation' from drone maker

A statement from Shenzhen-based drone maker DJI, China's leading drone maker, the manufacturer of the Mavic Pro drone determined to have been used in the incident, expressing its "strong condemnation" of the illegal filming. "Like other tech products, the safety of the drone mostly depends on user habit, safety awareness and a sense of social responsibility," the statement reads.

We tested DJI's new foldable drone

"The behavior of operating a drone close to a civilian airliner is very likely to endanger public security, which is stipulated in the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China. DJI solemnly reminds drone users not to cause severe consequences on a whim." It adds that the company had been developing geo-mapping technologies that prevent their products from flying in restricted areas.