FAA cuts red tape to let UAS work Yosemite wildfire

You’re a fire boss trying to contain an out-of-control wildfire in mountainous terrain, and you literally can’t see the forest for the burning trees. Dense smoke chokes the air, making it nearly impossible to have a good sense of where and how quickly a fire is moving.

Such was the case for firefighters battling this August’s Yosemite Rim fire in California, which had spread to cover more than 134,000 acres in less than two weeks. They needed a bird’s eye view of what was happening — in a hurry. Enter the California Air National Guard and the FAA.

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UND UAS program soars to new heights

UND UAS interest web

It’s becoming a common reaction around the University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences lately. That mildly surprised expression on the face of newcomers as they gaze for the first time upon the network of interconnected multi-storied futuristic buildings that form the main aerospace school complex. It’s a look that says ― “It’s more than we expected.”

And that’s not even the half of it, as they soon find out. [Read more…]

Drones gaining acceptance

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Drones — Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) — are getting greater acceptance worldwide, leading all in aviation to take a new and detailed look into how they will fit into the airspace and how they will affect the safety of all flight operations.

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FAA slowing drone use to fight wildfires

Fire fighters hoping to use drones to “map a fire’s size and speed, and identify hot spots,” are running up against FAA regulation. A New York Times story notes a drone is precluded, “from operating out of sight of a ground-based pilot. If distance or the smoke of a wildfire obscures a drone from observers on the ground, a piloted aircraft must be sent aloft to keep an eye on it.” Fire fighting is but one of many facets of drone use the FAA, federal government and U.S. citizens are debating.