FAA: Wildfires and drones don’t mix

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Responding to recent incidents in which remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) — also known as drones and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) — interfered with manned aircraft involved in fighting fires, the FAA is supporting the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service in a simple message to drone operators: If you fly, we can’t.

“Flying a drone near aerial firefighting aircraft doesn’t just pose a hazard to the pilots,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When aircraft are grounded because an unmanned aircraft is in the vicinity, lives are put at greater risk.” [Read more…]

Drone safety campaign focused on ag flying launched

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The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) has launched a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) safety campaign to raise awareness and prevent accidents between RPA operators and low-altitude manned aircraft.

The first public outreach tool in the safety campaign is a “safety stuffer” designed for aerial applicators to share with farmers and other agricultural stakeholders. Sized to fit into a No. 10 envelope, the double-sided insert illustrates the safety concerns ag pilots have about hard-to-see RPAs — also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned aerial systems and drones — and provides recommendations for safe and responsible operations in rural areas. [Read more…]

Amazon makes its case for drone highways in the sky

Much of the talk around the feasibility of Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is rightly centered around how the vehicles can be safely squeezed into US airspace, according to a post at GizMag. But Amazon officials have a plan, where drones would get exclusive access to that chunk of airspace between up to 400 feet. The first 200 feet would be dedicated to “low-speed localized traffic,” while 200 feet to 400 feet would be dedicated to “high-speed transit.” The airspace between 400 feet and 500 feet would be declared a no-fly zone to create a buffer between drones and general aviation. Check out the story here and then let us know what you think of the plan in our comment section.

Commercial drone shipments to top 2.6 million by 2025

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According to a new report from Tractica, a growing interest in using remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, will drive commercial RPA shipments from 80,000 in 2015 to more than 2.6 million annually by 2025.

The market intelligence firm forecasts that annual revenue from commercial drone hardware sales will reach nearly $4 billion in the same timeframe. However, the more significant revenue opportunity will be in commercial drone-enabled services, which Tractica forecasts will grow to $8.7 billion annually by 2025. [Read more…]

Embry-Riddle hosts Drone Challenge at AirVenture

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 attendees can get hands-on experience at the controls of unmanned flying machines as part of the Small Unmanned Aerospace System (sUAS) Challenge during this week’s fly-in.

The sUAS Challenge, which will include both obstacle and speed courses for the unmanned flying vehicles commonly referred to as drones, are part of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s aviation mobile interactive exhibit, the Embry-Riddle Experience. [Read more…]

Commercial drone rules should be in place by this time next year

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Commercial drone operations could take flight on a large scale by this time next year, according to a Reuters report. FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker told a Congressional committee the agency expects to finalize its regulations within the next 12 months. Previous forecasts had anticipated rules by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.

“The rule will be in place within a year,” Whitaker said in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Hopefully before June 17, 2016.”

Drones: A pilot’s perspective

Justin's DJI Inspire 1

By JUSTIN MOORE

A little more forward throttle, a bit more yaw to the left. Perfect. Click.

You might assume that I’m flying an airplane and taking a picture from one, but I’m not. I’m piloting a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) — also commonly known as an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) — and I just took a picture of San Pedro Springs Park, the second oldest city park in the nation. The picture will help San Antonio residents experience their city parks from a whole new perspective. [Read more…]

Educating the public — and pilots — about RPAs

Justin Newcomb and Lindsey Helland, Micro Drone Vision Creative Director marketing answer questions during SUN 'n FUN.

Can you imagine ordering an aircraft off the Internet, then learning to fly it by trial and error without knowledge of physics, weather or airspace?

That’s what’s happening when people buy Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), also referred to as drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). These non-commercial RPAs can range in size from under five pounds and about the dimensions as a six pack of soda to ones that weigh more than 50 pounds and are larger than a medium-sized suitcase.

And they are sharing the airspace with full-sized aircraft, often because the owners don’t realize they are breaking the rules. [Read more…]

RPA encounters increasing

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Nearly 200 encounters with remotely piloted aircraft, ranging from amusing to chillingly dangerous, were reported to the FAA between February and November of 2014, according to a report at AOPA.org. Writer Jim Moore notes that a list published by a New Orleans television station May 26 documents the growing use of drones — authorized and otherwise — and their infiltration of the National Airspace System. Many of the reports document troubling encounters, he reports, including unmanned aircraft flying near manned aircraft, airports, or navigation aids. Read the full story here.