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Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal

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Stop flying your drones over the California fires and subsequent devastation. Why?

Here’s the short answer: the U.S. government says so.

If you fly, we can’t! Drones near wildfires are not safe. https://t.co/7DM1EdKCKX #WildfireSafety pic.twitter.com/k4DANoeCKb

— NWS (@NWS) October 12, 2017

And here’s the long answer:

A large amount of space in the Napa area is currently under a NOTAM, including airspace over NapaSanta Rosa and Petaluma. A NOTAM is short for notice to airmen, and is something filed by the FAA to alert pilots of hazards in areas they are flying in.

Under the restrictions of those NOTAMs, “no pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM.”

The NOTAMS are effective through Nov. 13 “to provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations,” according to the text of the NOTAMs.

“The FAA warns unauthorized drone operators that they may be subject to significant fines if they interfere with emergency response operations,” according to a message posted on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. “Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”

To check for yourself, visit to the Know Before You Fly site map, powered by AirMap. That data is sourced directly from the Department of Interior’s incident command system.

“It’s critical that airspace is clear for first responders to fully focus on their aerial efforts, including search and rescue and distribution of fire retardant,” said Pablo Estrada, VP of Marketing at Dedrone.

In most states, including California, which is where fires in both the southern and northern half of the state have torn through the past week and have killed at least 30 people, interfering with firefighting activity is considered a crime. And yes, flying a drone near a fire is considered “interfering with firefighting activity.”

A number of media outlets, ranging from the New York Times to Mashable, have published images and videos showing the fires and subsequent devastation. Though, this isn’t to suggest all the images you see published from the fires are illegal. Aircraft can fly in areas covered by a NOTAM if they are properly accredited news representatives and, prior to entering that area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FSS or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM.

Please stop encouraging this. Leave the airspace to those putting the fires out. pic.twitter.com/z99k56LmeF

— John Cherbini (@cherbini) October 12, 2017

But drone experts estimate that a number of them are illegal.

“For some pilots, the value of being the first to capture footage and tell a story may be higher than the cost of following FAA, FEMA, or first responder’s instruction,” Dedrone’s Estrada said. “Curious and wandering pilots may be tempted to capture video, but need to understand the risks and damage they could cause, as well as the federal laws they may be in violation of should they send their drone into the sky.”

Dedrone is a San Francisco-based company working on an “anti-drone” platform that can identify drones through passive sensors, including RF/WiFi, microphones and cameras. The company claims it can then map the flightpath, identify the communications protocol of the drone, and locate the pilot.

However, while Dedrone can detect the pilot, there is really no legal way in the U.S. to force the drone out of the sky.

It is a federal crime to interfere with or manipulate a drone, even if you are a first responder and a drone is posing an immediate distraction.

“A firefighter can’t use a hose to spray a drone out of the sky,” he said.

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Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal was originally posted at http://thedronegirl.com/2017/10/13/drones-california-fires/ by Sally French

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$1,000 is Up for Grabs Every Week – AirVuz Drone Video of the Week Contest!

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AirVuz is the top spot for drone videographers to show off their work.  Show off your best with a chance to win $1,000 every week in the AirVuz Video of the Week contest!

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Email Miriam
TWITTER:@spaldingbarker

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$1,000 is Up for Grabs Every Week – AirVuz Drone Video of the Week Contest! was originally posted at https://dronelife.com/2018/04/08/1000-grabs-every-week-airvuz-drone-video-week-contest/ by Miriam McNabb

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The Alliance for Drone Innovation

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Manufacturing giant DJI has announced the launch of the Alliance for Drone Innovation (ADI), an effort to broaden the support for the goals of the former Drone Manufacturers Alliance originally formed 2 years ago by 3DR, GoPro, DJI and Parrot.

The new organization will address the same issues – but the coalition has now expanded to include suppliers and software developers of both personal and professional drones “as well as the innovative Americans who fly them for recreational, artistic, and business purposes,” says the Alliance.

Led by Jenny Rosenberg, former Department of Transportation Acting Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, the group’s focus is on legislative and regulatory activity: matters of critical importance right now to stakeholders in the recreational drone industry.  Recent arguments over the repeal of Section 336 in the next FAA Authorization package – a move which would grant the FAA broad authority to impose laws for recreational drones – could threaten the growth of the sector.  Recreational drone manufacturers and advocacy groups are committed to keeping the law in place, which would mean that recreational droners do not have to get a Part 107 license or additional training to fly as long as they fly within the framework of a community-based flight organization, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) or the Drone User Group (DUG.)

“ADI is focused on promoting innovation and the growth of the unmanned aircraft industry for both personal and professional use,” says ADI.  “…ADI promotes awareness among policymakers, media and the general public of how drones help society, ensuring that government policies allow everyone to achieve the benefits of safe and responsible drone flight.”

“We look forward to working with Congress, the administration, and other stakeholders on policies that promote innovation and allow the drone market to flourish in a responsible and safe manner,” said ADI Executive Director Jenny Rosenberg.

In addition to legal protections for recreational operators as mentioned above, the ADI supports a micro-drone classification exempting very small and lightweight aircraft from certain laws, and the preservation of FAA preemption.  FAA preemption refers to the idea that the FAA should maintain ultimate authority over the airspace, preventing state, tribal and local governments from passing their own drone laws.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Email Miriam
TWITTER:@spaldingbarker

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The Alliance for Drone Innovation was originally posted at https://dronelife.com/2018/04/07/alliance-drone-innovation/ by Miriam McNabb

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Firefly Drone Shows: The Team Behind That Viral Video Expands Their Fleet

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Press Release: Firefly Drone Shows, founded by Kyle Dorosz and Ryan Sigmon, is expanding their fleet to 200 custom-built drones and booking for a variety of outdoor events this summer. They are the third company in the United States to gain approval for performing across the country, and one of the few in the world to also possess a night waiver from the FAA for drone shows. Routines are pre-programmed, choreographed, and automated by a computer to create any design imaginable in the sky. This level of customization makes light shows an ideal alternative to traditional fireworks for corporate, private, and special events.

Firefly recently made headlines in regional news outlets, including MLive and ABC 12, after a video of their first test performance, recorded by Grand Blanc resident Kaylin Adams, went viral. Dorosz was operating 30 drones at dusk, from Holly Cloud Hoppers flying field, which piqued the curiosity of Adams plus 10-15 other drivers who parked on the shoulder of the I-75 highway to safely view the synchronized light show.

Traditional fireworks are loud, costly, can be used only once, and emit various harmful toxins. Drone shows don’t leave a carbon footprint and can be executed repeatedly, something co-founder Dorosz believes will appeal to to eco-conscious industries including music and entertainment. “We are able to create bright, impactful displays in the sky without the significant pollution or steep costs generally associated with fireworks.”

A light show can last up to 20 minutes. However, additional drones can be launched to replace drones with depleted batteries, creating a seamless and continuous light show. Anyone attending a music festival, county fair, or corporate event this summer will be relieved to know that if they spot groups of lights performing mesmerizing routines, it’s likely a Firefly Drone Show at work and not a visit from extraterrestrial beings.

Firefly is currently booking summer events across the nation. View more of their shows, and follow along, on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or visit fireflydroneshows.com.

About Firefly Drone Shows

Firefly provides synchronized drone light shows for corporate and private events, as well as custom applications. One of the only FAA-approved companies in the world, Firefly offers the latest technology operated by the most experienced pilots.

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Firefly Drone Shows: The Team Behind That Viral Video Expands Their Fleet was originally posted at https://dronelife.com/2018/04/07/firefly-drone-shows-team-behind-viral-video-expands-fleet/ by

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