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FAA Taking a Look At News Corp's Use of Drone 252

nonprofiteer writes "The News Corp iPad newspaper has a drone they've been using for news gathering — mainly flying it over disaster zones in N. Dakota and Alabama. However, FAA regulations on drones are very restrictive at the moment, and they're not supposed to be used for commercial purposes (law enforcement is free to use them). The FAA is now examining The Daily's use of its drone. Could this set a precedent for how private businesses can use drones?"
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FAA Taking a Look At News Corp's Use of Drone

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  • Drone vs. RC (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:24PM (#36979812) Homepage

    How is it different from an RC plane or helicopter? Those are used all the time for commercial arial photography and videography.

    Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil.

  • Re:Drone vs. RC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:32PM (#36979896)

    Precisely. Because piloting a small RC aircraft for fun is entirely safe. Piloting one for commercial gain turns them into unstoppable killing machines.

  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:58PM (#36980144) Journal

    Yes. And what do you think investigating the safety of unlicensed aircraft falls under?

    Not only that, but the FAA employees who are still on the job keeping the public safe in the air, are doing so at their own expense. As in, "not getting paid".

    Interesting how public employees are often characterized as "mooches" and "leeches". I wonder how many members of the Tea Party (at least the few who are not on Social Security or disability) would ever put in a day's work for free.

    These FAA employees are what's known as "public servants" and they are apparently more honorable than the Republican senators who ran out of town on vacation rather than fund the agency whose job is regulating air traffic and air safety.

  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverkillTASF ( 670675 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:17PM (#36980286)
    I'm a fan of the Tea Party (I won't go so far as to call myself a member, since it's kind of like Anonymous in that regard... It is what you want it to be) and I've done more free work at my current job than I care to think about. I've also volunteered quite a bit of my time to causes slightly more important than my job. I have a feeling that if I thought my job was keeping planes from falling out of the sky, I'd probably keep doing it through a "blip" in my paycheck. Also, if I thought I would be potentially fired on the resumption of my pay. Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily? Don't pretend that wouldn't be held against you...
  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:48PM (#36981008) Journal

    Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily?

    Yes. I can't speak for other industries, but as a programmer, if a company can't pay me, I take it as a bad sign and immediately start looking for another job. Employers like that just abuse you and take advantage.

  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:08PM (#36981162)
    Ah, so you like it when the employer has so much power over you that you wouldnt chance being fired. Instead, working long late night hours at the expense of your sanity, your family, and your friends?
    While they get to go home, enjoy their friends, family, and insanity of having a fully stocked fridge of Grey Goose.
    GG sir, you have been sold the "american dream", except you arent living it, you are just dreaming it...
  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @11:21PM (#36981258) Journal

    'm a fan of the Tea Party

    That's fine, but could you please try not to fuck things up for the majority of the country while you're at it?

    Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily?

    You might feel differently if you had a family to support.

    And you might feel differently if you were ever asked to work without a paycheck for a month or more, as the employees of the FAA are doing. I'm not talking about going into the office a few weekends to finish a project and still getting you check every two weeks on schedule, I'm talking about "You're not getting paid at all, and by the way, you no longer have the right to bargain collectively, which is the very thing that made the United States into a 20th century superpower and created a growing (at the time) middle class and brought prosperity and upward mobility to hundreds of millions of people in the last 75 years of the twentieth century before Ronald Reagan decided to treat air traffic controllers the same way he later treated his diapers.

    By the way, this was only 18 months after Ronald Reagan had asked for the support of the air traffic controller union, promising to fight for their rights to collectively bargain and to give them what they were fighting for in their contract dispute. He told them that in writing, too. Not surprisingly, the letter to PATCO (the air traffic controller union) did not make it into the Reagan Library, though a copy exists (or maybe the original) at the Labor & Industry Museum.

  • Re:scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday August 04, 2011 @05:21AM (#36983208) Journal

    I am *both* an RC pilot (helicopters and fixed wing) and a full scale pilot (glider, single and multiengine plus instrument rating), so for me it's not a "them and us" (like it appears to be for you), because I'm counted in "us" for both sides.

    I *have* been buzzed in a full scale by RC aircraft, which was extremely dangerous (it wasn't someone I knew, it was out over the boonies in Texas halfway between Victoria and Houston). For good reasons, you don't go flying either drones or RC aircraft near full scale (we were at 1500 feet, far higher than RC aircraft ever should go, and a largeish yellow RC aircraft passed between our two aircraft - we were in a formation of 2 aircraft). For VFR, see-and-avoid is extremely important, it's extremely difficult to see-and-avoid an RC plane which is perhaps 1/8th the size of something small like a C150. The RC pilot couldn't have possibly had a reasonable idea where exactly his aircraft was relative to ours due to the aircraft being at a minimum 1500 feet away from him (and in controlled airspace). Had we collided, the RC pilot would have been without a few hundred bucks. At best, the repairs would cost me several thousand (or even the loss of the entire airframe if the damage were bad enough) or at worst I could have ended up dead. The stakes are much higher if you're in a full scale aircraft so it's only right that full scale wants anything unmanned to have adequate systems to prevent collisions!

    Private pilots don't have an entitlement complex - it's that if the air has a lot of drones in it the stakes are pretty damned high - a collision can easily kill you. For the drone owner the stakes are very very low. They lose a bit of hardware, big deal. Therefore do you think it's surprising that full scale pilots don't like it? Especially when to accomodate the drone pilots, full scale pilots will have to fit their aircraft with extremely expensive hardware, probably costing a lot more than the entire cost of your drone. Anything that goes into a full scale aircraft has to be certified and have a paper trail a mile long, and therefore tends to be extremely expensive. Full scale pilots therefore feel that to pursue your hobby, you are imposing some serious costs onto them.

    Generally with my full scale hat on I have no problems with RC, generally RC is pretty self-limiting, you can't fly too far away without the aircraft becoming a dot you can't really control, and an RC pilot watching their model can do an adequate job of see and avoid (and collisions between RC and full scale are rare enough that I've only ever heard of one). However, this isn't the case with FPV and drones where the aircraft can easily be beyond visual range of the owner.

    Drones in particular I think by regulation will need some kind of safety systems to prevent them from wandering where they shouldn't be. It's all very well having ADS-B, but systems fail, and drones need adequate failsafes to prevent them entering airspace where they shouldn't be, and it should be put in the regulations that the drones have this kind of thing. Failsafes like monitoring the ADS-B out and shutting down the engine as soon as a problem is detected. RAIM equipped GPS, etc. Unlike RC they don't really have the "self limiting" feature of needing to be seen adequately enough to be able to control the aircraft, they can easily operate at beyond visual range of the owner or any spotter he may have. Being in the RC world I do know that quite a few RC pilots don't have exactly the approach to safety that full scale pilots have, after all their butt isn't in the plane. (Personally all my models have a failsafe, and I test the failsafe. The last thing I want is my 12 cell T-Rex 600 flying off into the distance and colliding with something, there is a *lot* of energy in those rotor blades and they can do a great deal of damage. People have been killed by similar sized RC helicopters).

    If you want to operate in the same airspace as full scale, you'll need to follow the same regulations as full scale, that means you ne

  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Serpents ( 1831432 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:56AM (#36983710)
    Not to troll but if it goes on like this the safest option to travel across the US will be by car or train. And if other countries become concerned with degrading safety of US airlines it'll be ships for you if you want to go to Europe... Seriously guys, why don't you just vote all those idiots from their offices? You're a democracy, aren't you?
  • Re:FAA Shutdown (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @09:09AM (#36984614)

    I'm a fan of the Tea Party (I won't go so far as to call myself a member, since it's kind of like Anonymous in that regard... It is what you want it to be)

    Well, it isn't "what you want it to be". What it is is a PR campaign, conceived by a PR company, and funded and some very rich and powerful people, for the purposes of ensuring that their agenda steers America. And that agenda is to keep grinding the poor and middle classes into the dust while ensuring that cooperations pay no taxes and get access to lucrative government work - funded by the poor and middle classes. Reverse wealth re-distribution. When the Tea Party says "we want the government out of our pockets" by our they mean cooperations - and when they say "we want the government out of our lives" they mean they want private cooperations to provide the services that would otherwise provided by the government - they want those contracts. They cherry pick from US history (and whose history could not be cherry picked to tell whatever story you wanted?) to create the illusion that this was the society envisioned by Americas founding fathers. And they carefully construct an illusion that makes the Tea Party seem like a party of scrappers, of ordinary folk espousing the ideals of ordinary folk, when really, those people are just unpaid advertisers of big business and continuing the status quo, while America sinks.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?