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First FAA waiver issued to fly a large drone beyond line of sight (aviationtoday.com)
73 points by mleonhard 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments





It might be the first waiver under thay law, but certainly isn't thw first civilian beyond-LOS Flight.

General Atomics flew a civilian-registered SkyGuardian UAV across the Atlantic in July 2018 to attend the RIAT airshow, for example.


Well, technically, there's nobody to police the high seas...that seems to be the deciding point. Try that overland and see what gets dispatched.

It would actually be very interesting to see what would get dispatched - at what point do they give up trying to contact the operator? Do they go for electronic warfare to wrest control of it, or do they capture the physical drone? What kind of response time would they have?

Probably slow response if any, judging by the interception of the stolen Q400 at Sea-Tac and having listening to the civilian ATC providing intercept vectors. Don't get me wrong, they coordinated well, but I guess I'd have expected a military jet to receive broad airspace clearance & use advanced radar to zoom straight to their POI.

> but I guess I'd have expected a military jet to receive broad airspace clearance & use advanced radar to zoom straight to their POI.

That would required clearing the airspace. As well as being incredibly disruptive, it would take a long time to get everyone down safely.

There are circumstances under which a military aircraft commanders would declare responsibility for air safety in a crowded airspace (MARSA, "due regard")[1][2] but that aircraft theft wasn't one of them.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARSA_(aviation)

[2] https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Due_Regard


If you want to crack down on people with drones, then capturing the physical drone with a net is very useful for identifying the purchaser. (Even in the case of DIY.)

It'd be really easy to connect a remote UHF radio to a stream, and ATC would never know. Get your clearance, taxi on to the runway, take off, say "have a nice day EIGHTTWOJULIET" as you clear their airspace.

maybe someone would look in the cabin and think it was weird they didn't see a head waving back, but in most cases i'd doubt it.


With some cheap animatronics, you could even fix that last bit...

Pretty sure the FAA doesn’t have any authority to grant or deny clearance over the middle of the Atlantic.

Pretty sure you need clearance from the tower to take off in the US, assuming a controlled airport; en-route controllers for the Atlantic also have a say in an international flight even if you're going to argue that they took off from an uncontrolled airspace.

The point was that this isn’t indicative of this being a first time this happened. Ops comment had nothing to do with jurisdiction.

But it was never implied that it's the first in the world.

There at least used to be YouTube videos of people outside the US flying large drones in autonomous mode over to the next town.

That didn’t require a commercial use waiver, as they weren’t selling a product or service. The article (if you care to read it) even calls out other non-commercial use examples.

Pfft, they are late. My neighborhood is full of obnoxious drones flying around apartment buildings with no operators in sight and no one will do anything about it, so they may as well have a waiver!

The operators may not be in YOUR line of sight, and still have line of sight to the craft. Do you have evidence that this is not the case?

In one instance I watched the craft at low altitude go around several buildings in a way that it would have been literally impossible to draw a straight line to ANY point without going through one of the buildings. That's the only instance I'm 100% sure.

In other instances me and several members of our community literally went around trying to find who the hell was operating some drones over their properties (because they were dangerously close to some fragile things), and no one could find them. So possibly had some line of sight, but were pretty darn sneaky.


Operators aren't necessarily stationary, and there isn't necessarily one operator either.

Very true, though they generally cannot easily walk through concrete and fences.

You can't legally be moving and pilot a drone according to part 107 though if you're hobby flying it technically might be allowed but it's hard and not a novice thing too do since the RTH needs to be updated as does time left.

Sadly, the current rules around this tend to be ignored. The line of sight rule is one of the most sensible rules, IMO, so this is really unfortunate.

The majority of hobby UAVs that supports FPV are going to be (illegally) flown beyond LOS at some point, because the rules are almost impossible to enforce, and most operators don’t care. (It’s why I gave up the hobby when toy multi rotors hit the shelves.)

But that isn’t what this article is about - this is the first commercial use waiver for a UAS over the 55lb weight limit.


A decade late and a few bucks short. The FAA continues to keep the US in the dark ages of UAS while other countries eclipse us in drone use and development.

Loving County has a population of ~134 and an area of almost 700 square miles. Suburban Amazon delivery this is not.



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