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Government Toys United States Your Rights Online

FAA Eases Drone Restrictions Around Washington, DC (roboticstrends.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes with a link to Robotics Trends, which reports that: After doubling the radius of the "no-drone zone" from 15 miles to 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. in 2015, the FAA announced drones can now fly in the "outer ring" of the Special Flight Rules Area. This means drones can operate between a 15- to 30-mile radius outside of the nation's capitol. Drones that fly between the 15- to 30-mile radius still have to operate under specific conditions: drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, be registered and marked, fly under 400 feet, stay in the operator's line of sight, only fly in clear conditions, and avoid other aircraft.
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FAA Eases Drone Restrictions Around Washington, DC

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  • I always liked making up the rules as you go along. Always the most appropriate thing to do.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      That's how everyone has always done it. The progressive Founding Fathers of the USA were making it up as they went along as well. Taking bits of what worked, making sure to leave out what didn't and seeing what happens, we can always amend it later if it doesn't work. The first US constitution failed miserably. How are those Articles of Confederation working out?
    • You're right. It would be much better if they came up with the perfect rules to start with and then never ever changed them.

  • See the title. But there seems to be a lot of news about drones and lots of actions by the government. Are there really that many drones kicking around that they are this much of an issue?

    I mean lots of people own drones here in Aus but I rarely actually see many flying around.

    • A lot? No.

      The ones that are, caught doing stupid shit? Yes.

    • I live in this zone, I was concerned enough about this $20k fine that my son's drone has been grounded since it was announced. I don't know frankly what they were thinking, it isn't like many drones would be able to fly the original 15 miles to the white house/pentagon/cia headquarters, let alone an additional 15 miles. I never particularly understood this reg, but it is not worth risking the fine.

    • Are there really that many drones kicking around that they are this much of an issue?

      The rule (and its change) wasn't about "drones" - it was about any and all RC-controlled flying things. Balsa-wood models that grandpa has been flying around in circles in his back field for 40 years, for example. Hundreds of thousands of people have been flying RC aircraft for many decades. And no, it's never been an issue and still isn't. The FAA's random rule-generating system has nothing to do with reality.

    • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @08:31PM (#51483753)
      There aren't many terrorists in the US....but we still spend BILLIONS in fear of them. The driver on his phone driving next to you is FAR more of a threat to more people than drones or terrorists are - and kills more people every year.

      The conflicting info is that my drones do not have to be registered being the toys that they are...yet to fly them in my own damned back yard (inside this 'outer circle') I need to register them AND notify the FAA an hour ahead of time and of course notify Dulles airport?

      I can imagine the hilarity if every hobbyist starting calling the airports multiple times a day.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        The driver on his phone driving next to you is FAR more of a threat to more people than drones or terrorists are

        Given that you are phrasing this in the present tense, and apparently a non-hypothetical sense, I imagine that the person who is reading your post at the same time while they also trying to drive is *FAR* more of a thread to more people than even a driver beside them who might be using the cell phone.

      • That seems extreme. Here you aren't allowed to exceed 500ft without permission in anywhere that counts as controlled airspace. Which essentially is everywhere anyone lives or fly over heavily populated public spots. So you can fly in a park for example but not if it's full of people.

        CASA is looking into the regulations around drones, but have actually been loosening them, in particular for low altitude commercial stuff like taking a video for a realestate site. That said I expect they will require licen

        • part of my point is these regulations don't mention *any* height restriction (if I'm wrong on this, good...and bad on the reporter). Any height in my own backyard has to be reported an hour prior.

          That is absolutely absurd.
          • The rules are clear, but you have to practically be a pilot to know them. That's because the regulations require you to know what class G airspace is. It's also why commercially you need a pilots certificates to qualify for an exemption. Private pilots are required to know and follow all those same rules without any oversight because they are "hobbiests". That will probably change.

    • Apparently there are more drone registrations [phantompilots.com] than 'normal' aircraft. (Actually this represents more drone operators since the new FAA UAV registration registers the human, not the aircraft - unlike the traditional registry.)

  • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @06:52PM (#51483105)

    ...and avoid other aircraft.

    Will the oppressive over-regulation never stop!?

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      ...and avoid other aircraft.

      Will the oppressive over-regulation never stop!?

      So, does this prohibit a "Battle Bots" style drone contest?

  • Those restrictions sound 100% reasonable for all outdoor flight, period, without specific commercial licenses. The golden days of drones, where most users were hobbyists who cared about safety and were few in number, are over. As much as I'd like to keep flying a craft with totally automatic gps guidance outside of my line of sight--it's irresponsible these days. It only takes one collision between a couple of heavy craft over a crowd of people to cause a crackdown much worse than this.

    • where most users were hobbyists who cared about safety

      So you're banning cars then? FAR more people are using actual cars to commit acts of terrorism (tm) than flying drones...

      • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

        Who said anything about banning? This doesn't ban drones. This regulates where and how you can fly them and mandates registration...just like we have traffic laws and mandate car registration. I doubt the first cars had license plates either; now they do.

        It's not like they're mandating drone pilot licenses, either.

        • Actually it was contemplated that, yes, you'd need a pilots license to fly your drone. linky [washingtonpost.com]

          didn't come to pass but it WAS on the table.
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Yes. The federal government has already banned cars around federal buildings (after OKC). This is the same thing. They are banning the drones in one specific area around federal buildings.
        • Around buildings is fine. I'm 35 MILES from DC.
          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            So because you are near DC, logic doesn't apply? I didn't realize the no-logic zone extended that far from Congress.
            • Apparently it extends to just past your chair :)I have a drone that can't lift more than a few ounces and can't fly longer than 7 minutes. There is no logic at all in banning that 15 miles away from DC or requiring notification of airports for a 'flight' that doesn't go above tree tops.
              • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
                There is no one rule that will be considered reasonable by *all* people. So they picked one arbitrary rule that at least one person thought reasonable. That's how reality works. That you are unaware of that indicates that the reality distortion field is on your end.
    • Those restrictions sound 100% reasonable for all outdoor flight, period

      Until you start talking about tiny stuff like this...

      http://www.onagofly.com/ [onagofly.com]

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @07:10PM (#51483223) Homepage Journal

    So if you used a tethered control cable its not a drone by definition, its not unmanned. Loophole!

    • Good try, but no loophole to be found there
      https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/faqs/ [faa.gov]

      Q20. What about tethered drones?
      A. Both tethered and untethered UAS must be registered.

      • Re:Drone Loophole (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat. c o m> on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @09:26PM (#51484025) Journal

        So would that include children holding a model plane over their head and pretending it is flying under its own power? Technically, it's "tethered"... via the child's arm.

        These restrictions are so outlandishly vague that they are absurd. At the very least, a minimum flying height should be mentioned, but it is nowhere to be found.

        I have seen a childrens toy that has a tethered helicopter which cannot roam anywhere further than a couple of feet from the base of the tether Should those also be covered by the law?

  • "drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, be registered and marked, fly under 400 feet, stay in the operator's line of sight,"

    First off, remote controlled aircraft less than 55 lbs don't have to be registered or marked until Feb 20 (for the grandfathered owners) and flying under 400 feet is a suggestion.

  • Dear Timothy (Score:2, Informative)

    by koan ( 80826 )

    You stupid, useless fuck, they aren't "drones", that's a negative connotation and RC modellers have been out flying planes and helis since the 1930's.
    Long before the real "drones" took to the air to kill children and vaporize wedding parties.

    I am so tired of you fucking sheep that believe what you're told, that live in some fucking mirror World that has 0 connection to the real World.
    People like you swallow hook, line and sinker every turd the gov drops down your throat.

    Go fuck yourself, and in the process

  • What is wrong with those rules ? They are still more relaxed than what we have everywhere outside city areas here in Denmark.
    Max 7 kg = 15.4 pounds vs US 55 lbs
    Max 100 meters = 328 ft vs US 400 ft.
    We have LoS only - But can use spotter that can take over.
    We must move away from other aircraft (which normally have to stay above 150 meters / 500 ft)
    We don't have the clear conditions requirement, but still Line of sight

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      What is wrong with those rules ?

      Only that it means that ~9.5 million people are unable to fly a drone in their own back yards. Pure bullshit.

      • It's more than that. The rules are no UAS anywhere within 5 miles of an airport. The rules aren't clear as to what qualifies as an "airport", but assuming that any general aviation airport qualifies, that means a lot of people fall under that rule. I live within 2 miles of an airport, so it's technically illegal to fly a quadcopter in my yard*. Luckily the FAA doesn't care about what you do indoors, so I can fly around my living room all I want.

        *You can supposedly fly if you get permission from the towe

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          I get ya, but I was responding specifically to the metro DC area and it's ~9.5 million population, of which I'm one. I'm also near the glidepath to Dulles airport, but more than 5 miles, so the change from 30 down to 15 miles helps me since I'm ~20 mi. from DC

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