Practical Night UAV Flight Training (Post-Commercial UAV Expo 2019)

About the Workshop

Sundance Media Group (SMG) will offer practical Night UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, otherwise known as drone) flight training course to equip UAV pilots with the knowledge, skills and confidence to pilot your UAV at night safely, efficiently and effectively.

Greater than 70 percent of our flying information comes through the eye and the eye is easily fooled at night. This is compounded by the inexperienced pilot alternating views between a tabled/lighted display and the position of the UAV in the sky. Night flying has a higher accident rate than identical day flying, both in UAV and manned aviation. Why? Depth perception is severely distorted, as is reaction time. There are also visual illusions that need to be recognized and mitigated. This session will provide information that will allow pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29). You’ll also learn the foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

Theoretical Training (2 hours)

The workshop will begin with a comprehensive theory session classroom style, then we head out to the night flight location for some practical experience. Topics to be covered during the classroom portion: 

  • FAA rules of night UAV flight  (What is a 107.29 waiver?)
  • Different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night
  • Autokinesis and night landing Illusions and how to avoid them
  • Equipment setup
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Importance of acclimating your eye for night flight & avoid light contamination
  • Foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

This workshop is designed to provide all the necessary information needed to empower pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29).  *This workshop includes a certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

After a comprehensive theory session, we will travel to the nearby night flight location for some practical experience. We’ll present different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night. In this practical hands-on class, we will discuss visual illusions as well as best practices for night flying. We will cover Autokinesis and Night Landing Illusions and how to avoid them. We will also discuss acclimating your eye for night flight. We will also cover the use of lights to illuminate our subjects and how to avoid “light contamination” in our eyes.

  • Practical Flight Training (2 hours)  (In the field!)
    • Overview of pre-planning checklist
      • Outline for the day
      • Wind Speed/weather check
      • Location overview: On-site walkthrough of potential obstacles/issues
      • Safety & Emergency procedures (requirement of aircraft lighting)
      • Equipment check, site setup, and basic flight controls
    • Overview of Night Flight UAV flight requirements
      • Airspace & notification requirements
      • Communication with ground crew and Visual Observer
    • UAV Night Flight with craft of choice

Registration with this workshop includes:

 

*The certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

Please note:  UAVs outfitted with required FAA lighting systems will be provided for the attendees to fly for this workshop. Please do not bring your personal UAV as we will not be able to fly it during this workshop.

Participants should have some drone flight experience prior to taking this workshop.  A 107 certification is recommended.

Schedule

  • Theoretical Class (including test & marking):  1:30 – 4:00 pm
  • Dinner 4:30 pm
  • FIELD 5:30 pm
  • SUNSET 5:47 pm
  • FLYING 6:20 pm – 8:20 pm

FAQS

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please do:  Contact us at workshops@sundancemediagroup.com

What’s the refund policy?

Full refunds offered with 48 hours notice.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, just ID.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferable?

Tickets are non-transferable.  Please cancel and re-register.

 

Thank you to our supporting organizations:

 

 

By | October 30th, 2019|0 Comments

Sundance Media Group at Commercial UAV Expo 2019

Save $100 on your conference pass with this discount code:   SAVE100CB

 

Commercial UAV Expo is North America’s leading trade show and conference for the commercial drone market, focusing on:

  • Surveying & Mapping
  • Civil Infrastructure
  • Process, Power & Utilities
  • Aggregates & Mining
  • Construction
  • Law Enforcement, Emergency Response & Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Precision Agriculture

In the Conference Program, UAV industry experts share key insights into the issues asset owners face when implementing unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including systems selection and integration; developing enterprise workflows, guidelines and policies; data management and integration; and legal, safety and regulatory considerations. Plenary sessions and panels cover topics of interest to all end-users regardless of industry, while breakout sessions focus on UAV technology, applications and opportunities in the vertical markets listed above.

The international Exhibition includes drone airframe manufacturers, component and sensor manufacturers, software developers and service companies. Commercial UAV Expo has more exhibitors than any other commercial drone show.

 

Drop by our booth #1119  and say hello while you are at CommUAV2019!

We will have our AVOC on display along with products from Autel Drones, Digital Aerolus, DT Research, QYSEA FiFish, FoxFury, Pix4D, UASideKick, and Venom.  We will also have our friends from Westwind Unmanned in the booth with us, so please do stop in and get a tour!

 

By | October 28th, 2019|0 Comments

Practical Night UAV Flight Training (Post-InterDrone 2019)

About the Workshop

Sundance Media Group (SMG) will offer practical Night UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, otherwise known as drone) flight training course to equip UAV pilots with the knowledge, skills and confidence to pilot your UAV at night safely, efficiently and effectively.

Greater than 70 percent of our flying information comes through the eye and the eye is easily fooled at night. This is compounded by the inexperienced pilot alternating views between a tabled/lighted display and the position of the UAV in the sky. Night flying has a higher accident rate than identical day flying, both in UAV and manned aviation. Why? Depth perception is severely distorted, as is reaction time. There are also visual illusions that need to be recognized and mitigated. This session will provide information that will allow pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29). You’ll also learn the foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

Theoretical Training (2 hours)

The workshop will begin with a comprehensive theory session classroom style, then we head out to the night flight location for some practical experience. Topics to be covered during the classroom portion: 

  • FAA rules of night UAV flight  (What is a 107.29 waiver?)
  • Different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night
  • Autokinesis and night landing Illusions and how to avoid them
  • Equipment setup
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Importance of acclimating your eye for night flight & avoid light contamination
  • Foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

This workshop is designed to provide all the necessary information needed to empower pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29).  *This workshop includes a certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

After a comprehensive theory session, we will travel to the nearby night flight location for some practical experience. We’ll present different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night. In this practical hands-on class, we will discuss visual illusions as well as best practices for night flying. We will cover Autokinesis and Night Landing Illusions and how to avoid them. We will also discuss acclimating your eye for night flight. We will also cover the use of lights to illuminate our subjects and how to avoid “light contamination” in our eyes.

  • Practical Flight Training (2 hours)  (In the field!)
    • Overview of pre-planning checklist
      • Outline for the day
      • Wind Speed/weather check
      • Location overview: On-site walkthrough of potential obstacles/issues
      • Safety & Emergency procedures (requirement of aircraft lighting)
      • Equipment check, site setup, and basic flight controls
    • Overview of Night Flight UAV flight requirements
      • Airspace & notification requirements
      • Communication with ground crew and Visual Observer
    • UAV Night Flight with craft of choice

Registration with this workshop includes:

 

*The certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

Please note:  UAVs outfitted with required FAA lighting systems will be provided for the attendees to fly for this workshop. Please do not bring your personal UAV as we will not be able to fly it during this workshop.

Participants should have some drone flight experience prior to taking this workshop.  A 107 certification is recommended.

Schedule

  • Theoretical Class (including test & marking):  2:45 – 5:30 pm
  • Dinner 5:30 pm
  • FIELD 6:45 pm
  • SUNSET 7:01 pm
  • FLYING 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

CLASSROOM LOCATION:

Rio Convention Center:  InterDrone Training area (CONGA Room)

 

TRANSPORTATION PICKUP:

Convention Center Doors

Field Training Location:

Seven Magic Mountains

 

FAQS

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please do:  Contact us at workshops@sundancemediagroup.com

What’s the refund policy?

Full refunds offered with 48 hours notice.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, just ID.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferable?

Tickets are non-transferable.  Please cancel and re-register.

 

 

hank you to our supporting organizations:

 

 

By | September 6th, 2019|0 Comments

Sundance Media Group at InterDrone 2019

Drop by our booth #805 and say hello while you are at InterDrone 2019!

We will have our AVOC on display along with products from Autel Drones, Digital Aerolus, DT Research, QYSEA FiFish, FoxFury, Pix4D, UASideKick, and Venom.  We will also have our friends from Westwind Unmanned in the booth with us, so please do stop in and get a tour!

 

SMG Pre-Conference Workshops:

Cinematography Intensive with Douglas Spotted Eagle

 

Join Sundance Media Group (Booth 802 with our A.V.O.C) atInterDrone 2019 – September 3 – 6th, Las Vegas, NV

Save $100 on your conference pass with this discount code:

 

By | September 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

Idaho UAS Symposium – Boise, ID

Sundance Media Group is excited to be a small part of the coming UAS Symposium in Boise, ID.

Idaho UAS Situational Awareness Workshop being hosted by the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Office of Emergency Management.

SMG will be participating in round-table discussions and Douglas Spotted Eagle will moderate a discussion focused on Private Sector UAS Operational Concepts and Uses.

The SMG A.V.O.C will also be onsite for walk thrus and Douglas and James Spear will be on hand for equipment demonstrations.

 

Please contact us if you’d like a personal walk through of the AVOC while we’re in the area – we’ll be driving from Boise, ID to Idaho Falls June 6th!

 

Many thanks to our sponsors for helping to make this possible:

      

By | June 5th, 2019|0 Comments

Update? Calibrate!

Software and firmware run the world of UAS, and some developer/manufacturers offer/require frequent updates. Updates are a component of the maintenance process for any UAS and should be manually checked at minimum, every 30 days. We recommend that any old software/firmware versions be archived if possible, in the event of problems encountered with a new update. Rolling back software is a good option (when possible).  In addition to archiving old software/firmware versions (when possible), it is required by the FAA that any maintenance be logged. This includes logging any software/firmware updates to the aircraft system.

For many UAS pilots/operators, the process ends at the update. In fact, many updates occur in-field with automated software updates being required by some manufacturer/developers, so the pilot uses WiFi or cellular connection to update the aircraft, controller, software, or battery, just before flying the next mission. There have been many instances where the next action with the aircraft is to begin the planned mission.

This is a mistake.

Any time software or firmware on the aircraft, tablet, battery, IMU, or other component of the aircraft is implemented, it is recommended that the aircraft be re-calibrated. This step is frequently put aside in interests of time, and can result in disaster.

The issue this pilot had could have been avoided had the aircraft and system been recalibrated prior to flight. The aircraft is a total loss due to compass error.

Software/Firmware updates are not always reliable and in some cases, result in safety issues. Recalibration is an important step in mitigating risk due to unknown factors generated via the software/firmware update process.  Compass, accelerometer, etc all must be recalibrated. It is also a good idea to let the aircraft sit for a few minutes after powering up, to acquire all satellites prior to flight after a recalibration.

Take 5 to avoid issues. Calibrate after every software/firmware update, and log the calibration along with the notice of update/firmware changelog.  Your flights will be more safe and confident.

 

By | November 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Update? Calibrate!

FoxFury High CRI Rugo Lighting Instruments

Last week I acquired a set of the new high CRI FoxFury Rugo 2’s. Although I was first introduced to the Rugo as a tool for UAS flight and photography, these new hi CRI Rugo 2 units captured my  interest and excitement. I’ve purchased several sets of the older Rugos (5700k) units, and they’re terrific for drones or basic, backfill, accent, or action cam lighting. They’re a bit too cool for scene lighting without corrective gel or filters. The CRI rating of the Rugo 2 is 92, which displays color more accurately and naturally than other LED lights.

Having access to these new Rugo 2 lights with the high CRI was exciting, as they represented yet another “shrink” in my portable imaging kit.  The size is the perfect tool for keeping on the camera full-time, whether shooting video or photos. Flashes aren’t always optimal for size, space, nor balance and the Rugo 2 allows everything to come together for the ideal compact system.

My first experience with the high CRI Rugo 2 instruments was in setting up a product shot and I was immediately knocked out at how quickly the shot came together. Before I laid out my plans for a product shot, I tested the Rugo 2’s on a toy that has a broad dynamic range (seen below in the unedited Pixel 3-captured images). One aspect that greatly impressed me was that regardless of battery status, the color did not shift (as common with most low-cost LED systems). The lights also run very cool to the touch, even after being powered up for three hours.

Liking what I saw in the final test images I decided to try them on a video interview, and again, impressed with the final result of the evaluation.

The lights pictured below are supported by very inexpensive, extremely lightweight flash stands typically found in a photographer’s kit, vs a videographer’s kit. They are essentially disposable at a cost of around $15.00 each, but are easy to pack on a plane. The Rugo is sitting on a ball swivel, the same type one might put a flash head.  This allows the Rugo 2 to tilt and angle.

 

 

LENSES

One of the features that makes the Rugo 2 so flexible is that the Rugo 2 has three lenses, aka “Tri-Lens®” technology. These three lens positions allow for a tightly-focused spot light, diffused, and flood light from one instrument. The lens may also be removed for situations where control isn’t critical. Removing the lens also offers a slightly more powerful light beam.

BATTERIES

When the battery is expired, the Rugo 2 has a clip/lever that allows the battery pack to be removed, and a fresh battery connected. This ensures wait-free production. For me, this was a huge step up, given the other battery powered instruments I’d worked with all have internal batteries, which required re-charging before use.  Batteries are inexpensive, and I recommend having a few spares on hand if the shoot is expected to go beyond three hours. Additionally, the Rugo’s flash for purposes of anti-collision lighting on a drone/UAS system.  Battery life is dependent on intensity, but generally runs in the 3, 2, 1 hour lifespan. On the lowest setting, the batteries may last as long as 6 hours. Recharges take approximately 2.5 hours, but charge faster when using upgraded USB charging systems and cables.

MOUNTS

The Rugo 2comes with a standard quarter/20 mount, as well as a Go-Pro style mount. Additional mounts are available for various kinds of drones, bikes, etc.

FLEXIBLE

The high CRI Rugo 2 also has a new power button; (look for the orange switch) this means that the instrument not only provides strobing, but also can be put in 60 feet of water, making it ideal for the underwater photography or underwater accent lighting kit. They are so small, I carry a couple in my day-to-day backpack for accent lighting, primary lighting when shooting with my mobile phone, and for when I need a flashlight.

For years, we drove around a production van similar to this one from my friends at New York Rentals. Essentially a five-light kit, three cameras/tripods, and sound kit, this required a van filled to the roof with gear. We also had a 6K lighting system that carried in a 14′ box truck with distribution and lunchboxes. With the Rugo2, those days are long gone.

Image result for production, grip equipment, van

These new Rugo 2’s from FoxFury enable me to carry essentially the same amount of lighting power and flexibility in a small case that can be carried on to any airplane, or carried on my back as a backpack, with a similar five lights, four-channel audio kit, three cameras/tripods, and a few assorted gels, C47’s, and small accessories in one kit/case.

While I was in New York teaching a class on drone imagery, it was fun to meet one of the Fire Department New York staff photographers, and I noticed on her belt, a Rugo 2 light as well.

Comparing notes, we both found how much we appreciated the small size, long battery life, and multi-lens, multi-intensity options of this new lighting instrument. She commented on the durability noting “I dropped this thing down a 75′ elevator shaft, and it didn’t miss a beat, and even provided some interesting back lighting while I was shooting.” It’s true the Rugo 2 light, like all FoxFury products, are made for durability.

SUMMARY

  • Warm color 
  •  Interchangeable Battery
  • Up to 6 hours battery life
  • Lightweight/small/cool running
  • Three lens options
  • Stand-ready
  • Virtually indestructible/Waterproof (60′)
  • No color shift (CRI 92)
  • Affordable

For the corporate producer, these lights are ideal for small in-office interviews, headshots, product shots, underwater glamour, and many other creative spaces. I simply cannot imagine going back to large-package light kits weighing over 80lbs when I can carry five FoxFury Rugo 2 instruments, and five stands in a backpack weighing less than 10lbs while achieving not only the same amount of illumination, but more valuable are the greater options with the lenses, intensities, and swappable battery packs.

FoxFury High CRI Rugo 2 LED light compared to older PhotoFlex halogen

Watch for a video coming soon on the video viability of the FoxFury high CRI Rugo lights!

Here are some photos from a recent Photowalk I did with the WPPI folks, with all lighting from the Rugo 2’s.

Mobile Phone grabs from a by-stander (apologies for out of focus areas, I didn’t shoot these, they are courtesy of someone on the photowalk

 

 

By | November 7th, 2018|Production, Technology, Training, Uncategorized, Video|Comments Off on FoxFury High CRI Rugo Lighting Instruments

sUAS and the 1 October Tragedy

1 October, Harvest Festival, Route 91” are all synonymous to Nevadans and first responders, marking the America’s worst-yet mass shooting event when a lone gunman in a high-rise hotel opened fire on concert goers (the official investigatory title for this event is “1 October”).

  • 58 victims died of gunshot wounds.   
  • 422 individuals were injured by gunfire.  
  • Approximately 800 concert attendees were injured from gunfire, trampling, or other injury escaping the chaos.

Over the course of several hours following the shooting;  law enforcement, fire, EMS services, and civilians acted as one to manage the scene, transporting victims to local hospitals, secure the area, and begin collection of evidence.

sUAS ON SCENE

sUAS were a component of the evidence-gathering process under the direction of the FBI and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).


LVMPD partnered with Nevada Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Investigation and Reconstruction Team and their sUAS as part of the scene given the size of the site, and the amount of data that needed to be collected in a short period of time. An outside technical advisor was also brought in to advise and as a subject matter expert to ensure automated mission compliance and best-practices were observed in each of the missions.

THE AREA

The area to be captured via sUAS was just over 19 acres in overall size.

Two primary considerations for data integrity:

  • Corruption of image from shadow/moving sun in a static environment
  • Corruption of area from propwash

To combat the second issue, altitudes for flight were selected based on height and downdraft from the aircraft.

Two types of aircraft were evaluated, a quadcopter and a hexacopter. The hexacopter offered significantly less ground disturbance and was selected for the mission. It was also much quieter and was expected to not attract undue attention at any altitude, as there were many tourists along Las Vegas Boulevard.

In order to counter the primary issue it was determined that the area would be captured with three simultaneous flights, spatially and temporally separated.

The mission requirements shed light on several challenges.

  • The site is located in Class B airspace, less than 500’ from active aprons, taxiways, and runways.
  • An active investigation underway created concern for flight in areas over investigators inside the secured perimeter.
  • Time was at a premium, as this is an outdoor venue and weather/sun were actively degrading evidence.
  • Helicopters from tour companies were not observant of the in-place TFR, and were constantly in the airspace, trying to show the crime scene to tourists.
  • Completing the missions within a narrow window of time was a crucial element so as to obtain the best possible images at all four primary areas of flight without shadow distortion.
  • A delicate balance of altitude and resolution needed to be struck to not affect evidence while obtaining the highest resolution possible.


Plans for automated flight were discussed on-site with time of flight determined by angle of sun. Once plans were determined and drawn, FBI and LVMPD personnel approved the automated flight areas, altitudes, and speed of flight. The automated, map-mission flight paths were programmed into each of the three ground stations, and verified by all authorized parties.

Flight plans included 85% overlap, 70% sidelap, with 25% additional area beyond the festival grounds captured for clean edges at the optical extremes.

Altitudes of flight were 60’, 90’, 150’, and 200’ with 5’ altitude offsets from center

North and South areas began flight in an easterly/westerly direction, while the center area began northerly/southerly directions, 5’ lower than north/south units. Temporal, horizontal,  and vertical separation ensured no possibility of mid-air collision existed.

Road closures surrounding the crime scene provided a secure area for launch/recovery of aircraft with no traffic in the area, providing for VLOS over the 19 acre property.

Once safety checks and the normal pre-flight checks were completed, the aircraft were placed in the launch/recovery area and three aircraft were launched eight minutes apart.

During flight, the ground station controller provided real-time feedback indicating where images have been captured.  


Donning sterile suits required to enter the perimeter of the crime scene allowed for manual flight in specific areas where closer inspection of complicated surfaces were required. Manual flights inside the area perimeter provided insights not visible from the ground level. Examples of projectile impact were found on a power pole at the intersection of two streets, and two impact points were discovered in the relay tower speakers that had not previously been found.

Original image courtesy of Las Vegas Review/Journal/modified by author

These areas were complicated for UAS flight, crossed with guy wires for tower stability, speaker cables strung across steel rigging, lighting instruments, hot, black metal in turbulent winds in areas where three observers were placed to assist the pilot in flying in these tight, physically and optically challenging spaces around the stage, speaker towers, food court/tents, billboard signage, and fence perimeters.

Original image courtesy of Las Vegas Review/Journal/modified by author

Following the nine flights (3×3) over the main grounds, a separate mission was executed over the abandoned hotel that extends into the entertainment property. These missions were a combination of manual inspection when potential evidence was observed, and automated mapping flights to capture the at-present data. In this particular instance, the benefits of the hexacopter were appreciated; turbulent ground winds, rotors, powerlines, palm trees, a confined area, and limited physical access each contributed to the challenges of this series of missions. VLOS was maintained with the observer standing on the rear of a patrol vehicle due to a high, covered fence and a limited launch area.


Three automated group flights at three altitudes, separate stage and hotel flights, manual flight inside the perimeter captured over 6,000 images. These images were input to two dimensional and three dimensional software applications for orthagonal mapping and 3D modelling. Survey markings were taken from previously operated TotalStation sites and physical objects used as GCP.

The author has not seen the final results from the orthogrammatic image render. The planned workflow is to render each of the separate areas for consistent GSD, added into a master render for each altitude. Once the flights were complete, memory cards were handed over to the federal agency.

This was very much a team effort. ATC, McCarran Airport, FAA, City of Las Vegas, Department of Public Safety, FBI, local subject matter expert, and other investigative agencies worked within a highly communicative environment to ensure no evidence was compromised, that all personnel were aware of each others activities, data/areas logged for clarity, and flights indicated in written, pictorial, and telemetry formats were shared between teams.

 

LOOKING BACK

Until October 1, the World Trade Center had been the largest physical crime scene in America with a total area of approximately seven and a half acres. 1 October is nearly three times in size.  Due to persons involved with both scenes, availability of data and cost from the two events may be compared and examined to gain an understanding of technical and operational improvements over the past 17 years.

 

In the last week of September, 2001, a Super Twin Otter with several sensor systems was called up to capture data from the World Trade Center scene.

Flying orbital and grid patterns over the course of five days, significant amounts of data were collected for analysis by multiple agencies.

Costs were reported over 1.5M, including fuel, personnel, equipment, and time.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Although the images captured are still classified, data from surrounding, unrelated areas demonstrate the poor quality of image capture. By comparison with modern technology, the images are of limited value, offering little useful data (by comparison).

The time, cost, labor, headcount, and quality of data are all areas where UAV have proven their value to law enforcement, and in this case, costing $1.5M vs $15,000 (cost of three aircraft, batteries, and accessories), while providing incalculably greater value through images that may be digitally shared in 2D, 3D form, annotated, analysed simultaneously by multiple agencies and investigators.

SUMMARY

The value of sUAS proved itself through rapid access to available airspace, speed of operation, quality of data, cost of operation, ability of continuous flight, noise and traffic impact on the surrounding area and area of investigation, speed to solution, instant verification of data capture and image quality, ability to simultaneously capture multiple areas, and most importantly, safety to all persons involved in the acquisition of data,  processing and investigation of the 1 October scene.

 

 

Part 91, 101, 103, 105, 107, 137: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

All these FARs, what’s a drone pilot to do in order to understand them? Do they matter?

YES!

In virtually every aviation pursuit except for sUAS, an understanding of regulations is requisite and part of most testing mechanisms.  As a result, many sUAS pilots holding 

a Remote Pilot Certificate under Part §107 are woefully uninformed, to the detriment of the industry.

Therefore, sUAS pilots would be well-served to inform themselves of how each section of relevant FARs regulate components of aviation.

Let’s start by digging into the intent of each Part.

  • §Part 91 regulates General Operating and Flight Rules.
  • §Part 101 regulates Moored Balloons, Kites, Amateur Rockets, Unmanned Free Balloons, and some types of Model Aircraft.
  • §Public Law Section 336 regulates hobby drones as an addendum to Part 101.
  • §Part 103 regulates Ultra-Light Vehicles, or manned, unpowered aviation.
  • §Part 105 regulates Skydiving.
  • §Part 107 regulates sUAS
  • §Part 137 regulates agricultural aircraft

RELEVANT PARTS (Chapters):

Part §91

This portion of the FARs is barely recognized, although certain sections of Part 91 may come into play in the event of an action by the FAA against an sUAS pilot. For example, the most concerning portion of Part 91 is  91.13, or “Careless or Reckless Operation.” Nearly every action taken against sUAS pilots have included a charge of 91.13 in the past (prior to 107).

Specific to drone actions, The vast majority of individuals charged have also included the specific of a 91.13 charge.

sUAS pilots whether recreational or commercial pilots may be charged with a §91.13 or the more relevant §107.23 (reckless)

It’s pretty simple; if there are consequences to a pilot’s choices and actions, it’s likely those consequences also included a disregard for safety or planning, ergo; careless/reckless. The FAA has recently initiated actions against Masih Mozayan for flying his aircraft near a helicopter and taking no avoidance action. They’ve also taken action against Vyacheslav Tantashov for his actions that resulted in damage to a military helicopter (without seeing the actual action, it’s a reasonable assumption that the action will be a §91.13 or a §107.23 (hazardous operation).

Other parts of Part 91 are relevant as well. For example;

  • §91.1   Applicability.

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b), (c), (e), and (f) of this section and §§91.701 and 91.703, this part prescribes rules governing the operation of aircraft within the United States, including the waters within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast.

The above paragraph includes sUAS.  Additionally, Part 107 does not exclude Part 91. Airmen (including sUAS pilots) should be aware of the freedoms and restrictions granted in Part 91.

§91.3   Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.

§91.7   Civil aircraft airworthiness.

(a) No person may operate a civil aircraft unless it is in an airworthy condition.

(b) The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight. The pilot in command shall discontinue the flight when unairworthy mechanical, electrical, or structural conditions occur.

§91.15   Dropping objects.

No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property.

§91.17   Alcohol or drugs.

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft—

(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;

(2) While under the influence of alcohol;

(3) While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or

Sound familiar?

SubPart B also carries relevant information/regulation with regard to operation in controlled airspace, operations in areas under TFR ((§91.133), operations in disaster/hazard areas, flights during national events, lighting (§91.209)

PART 101

Part §101 has a few applicable sections.

Subpart (a) under §101.1 restricts model aircraft and tethered aircraft (balloons). Although subpart (a.4. iiv) is applicable to balloon tethers, there is argument that it also applies to sUAS. Subpart (a.5.iii) defines recreational flight for sUAS/model aircraft.

 

Finally, §101.7 re-emphasizes §91.15 with regard to dropping objects (may not be performed without taking precautions to prevent injury or damage to persons or property).  Public Law 112-95 Section 336 (which may be folded into a “107 lite” version), clarifies sections not added to Part 101.

Bear in mind that unless the pilot follows the rules and guidelines of a NCBO such as the AMA, AND the requirements of that NCBO are met, the flight requirements default to Part 107 requirements.

PART §103

Part §103 regulates Ultralight vehicles (Non powered, manned aviation)

Although no component of Part §103 specifically regulates UAV, it’s a good read as Part 103 contains components of regulation found in Part 107.

PART §105

Part §105 regulates Skydiving.

Part §105 carries no specific regulation to sUAS, an understanding of Part 105 provides great insight to components of Part 107. Part 107 has very few “new” components; most of its components are clipped out of other FAR sections.

PART §107

Although many sUAS pilots “have their 107,” very few have actually absorbed the FAR beyond a rapid read-through. Without a thorough understanding of the FAR, it’s difficult to comprehend the foundation of many rules.

PART §137

Part 137 applies specifically to spraying crops via aerial vehicles.

Those looking into crop spraying via sUAS should be familiar with Part 137, particularly with the limitations on who can fly, where they can fly, and how crops may be sprayed.
One area every ag drone pilot should look at is §137.35 §137.55 regarding limitations and business licenses.

The bottom line is that the more informed a pilot is, the better pilot they can be.  While there are many online experts purporting deep knowledge of aviation regulations and how they specifically apply to sUAS, very few are familiar with the regulations in specific, and even less informed as to how those regulations are interpreted and enforced by ASI’s. We’ve even had Part 61 pilots insist that the FSDO is a “who” and not a “what/where.” Even fewer are aware of an ASI and how they relate to the world of sUAS.

FSIM Volume 16

It is reasonably safe to say that most sUAS pilots are entirely unaware of the Flight Standards Information Management System, aka “FSIMS.” I’ve yet to run across a 107 pilot familiar with the FSIMS, and recently was vehemently informed that “there is nothing beyond FAR Part 107 relative to sUAS. Au contraire…

Familiarity with the FSIMS may enlighten sUAS operator/pilots in how the FAA examines, investigates, and enforces relevant FARs.

Chapter 1 Sections 1, 2  and 4 are a brief, but important read, as is Chapter 2, Section 2.

Chapter 3 Section 1 is informational for those looking to apply for their RPC Part 107 Certificate.

Chapter 4 Sections 2, 5, 7, 8 are of particular value for commercial pilots operating under Part 107.

Volume 17, although related only to manned aviation, also has components related to 107, and should be read through (Chapters 3 & 4) by 107 pilots who want to be informed.

Gaining new information is always beneficial, and even better if the new information is implemented in your workflow and program. Become informed, be the best pilot you can be, and encourage others to recognize the value in being a true professional, informed and aware.

 

 

By | September 13th, 2018|Construction, Drone, Drone Safety, Inspection, Night Flight, Public Safety, Real Estate, Regulations, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, Training, UAV, UAV Maintenance, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Part 91, 101, 103, 105, 107, 137: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

CSI and sUAS: Tools for the Crime Scene Analyst

FoxFury, Pix4D, Sundance Media Group (SMG), and the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence came together during the InterDrone Conference, sharing techniques and technology used for capturing forensic scenes during night hours. This event will be repeated during the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3, at the WestGate hotel. Register now for the Commercial UAV Expo CSI demonstration.

Sundance Media Group and the CSI data may also be viewed at Booth #5413 at the Global Security eXchange Security Conference and Expo, September 23-27 in Las Vegas, NV at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Register for the GSX show HERE.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd gathered for a crime scene/sUAS demo with local crime scene investigators, FoxFury, Pix4D, and Sundance Media Group

As you’d expect, the ratio of nighttime vs daytime crime is much higher,” said one investigator from a local law enforcement agency. “This sort of training and experience provides greater depth to our toolkit. We are grateful to have partners willing to research and share experiences that may benefit our agency.”

Using FoxFury Nomad Hi CRI, daylight-balanced lighting, to light the scene in an area of East Henderson where no power and no available light existed, the team used Hollywood makeup techniques, a bit of stage blood, and shell casings to re-create a genuine crime scene. The “crime scene” was kept pristine as nearly 100 attendees looked on.

The FoxFury Nomads, properly positioned, provide a no/low-shadow environment with accurate colors.

Most LED lighting systems will generate a color-cast that may create problems in the post-capture investigation. Moreover, the lights do not require cabling that can trip up those on-scene, or create their own form of scene contamination. To place them, we merely pull down three legs, raise the pillar, and power up the lights. At half intensity, the lights provide approximately 12 hours of lighting,” says Douglas Spotted Eagle of Sundance Media Group. The FoxFury Nomads may be charged over a 12v connection in a patrol/support vehicle as well. 

FoxFury Rugo’s are placed on the aircraft for additional lighting as well as for FAA compliance. The Rugo provides a constant flash indicator in addition to options for Flood, Flat, or Pinspot light distribution. The Rugo mounts for the Yuneec and DJI products offer a 360 swivel, allowing for light control in any direction. Users may choose from four intensities in addition to the flash/cycle option.

 

James Spear talked about the aircraft lighting, saying “We use the FoxFury Rugo’s for our scene and night lighting not only due to the many options for lighting focus, but also because of the interchangeable batteries. At full intensity, we enjoy about an hour of flight time, yet the lights will operate for up to three hours at lower intensities.”

Ground Control Points were laid into place on the perimeter of the scene, taking care to ensure no one stepped into the scene. These are used as tie-points during the 2D and 3D assembly of the data, using Pix4Dmapper. The GCP’s for night capture are painted with Day-Glo paint colors for bright visibility and identification in the darkness of night. Similar techniques may be employed during thermal mapping projects (Pix4Dmapper on the desktop may be used for thermal mapping if the thermal camera properly embeds/captures meta-data). Shown here by Brady Reisch of the SMG team, the GCP’s are a highly-valued component to set scale constraints to the scene.

The area was flown with a drone equipped with a camera capturing GPS location, capturing a reduced area for purposes of avoiding flight over persons, and for expediency during the demonstration.

The pilot, wearing a Brother AiRScouter HUD, is able to simultaneously observe the aircraft and telemetry. Attendees of the event had opportunity to wear the HUD and appreciate the value of a constant display that enables pilots to observe the aircraft, telemetry, and video data, all at once.  Jennifer Pidgen of SMG commented, “We have equipped each of our pilots with the AiRScouter system not only for these scenarios, but more importantly for those times where we’re inspecting critical detail and looking away from the aircraft may increase risk. The AirScouter enables our pilots to observe the aircraft flying closely to objects while providing a constant stream of information to the pilot.”

The sUAS captured nearly 100 photos used to create the overall model/map of the scene. Normally, the scene would encompass the entire area in the event that there may be more clues hidden in the brush or sandy areas surrounding the site. Thermal may also be used to search for other bodies, or persons involved in the crew.

The images were then taken into the Sundance Media Group AVOC computers, where we assembled them as a low-resolution 2D file to verify all areas of the scene were adequately captured,” said Sam Pepple, of Pix4D. “Once verification and confirmation are complete, the scene may be released to the rest of the CSI team for standard investigation. Following the low-resolution verification, a high-resolution image was processed and evaluated by the team, as shown in the Pix4D booth at InterDrone.”

The point cloud of the scene is shared online here. Hold CTRL+SHIFT to rotate the scene in 3 dimensions.

Once the scene is captured, the rectified scene may be viewed internally or via secured online site by CSA, or Crime Scene Analysts, allowing measurements to be verified, retaken, or examined from a multitude of angles. 

The Sundance Media Group team will be demonstrating this experience at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3. Location TBA, near the WestGate hotel (walking distance).  REGISTER HERE. It is recommended that attendees register early. The last event ran out of space/slots within three days.

Thank you to Pix4D, FoxFury, Brother, NDCOE, WestWind Unmanned, Las Vegas Metro, Henderson PD, and Sundance Media Group for their efforts to bring this to the attendees of the InterDrone event.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd of nearly 100 attendees at the CSI demo.

Sam Pepple of Pix4D addresses the crowd, describing how Pix4D will be used to capture the scene, the importance and value of GCP, and why these models are valuable to crime scene investigators. 

An investigator briefs the crowd on how UAS are changing the face of scene capture, and details how a scene is approached, observed, captured, and processed.

We captured the scene using multiple drones. Brady Reisch captured video of the event; we’ll soon have that available for viewing.

The SMG AVOC was the hub of activity prior to the night flight. Pizza and drinks provided by FoxFury and Pix4D.

The FoxFury Rugo lights are a key component to SMG night flight. They may be mounted  to nearly any sUAS platform including Yuneec H520, Hplus, DJI Phantom, Inspire 1, Inspire 2, Matrice 200 series, AEE Mach 4, and many others.

By | September 10th, 2018|Drone, Public Safety, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Safety, Technology, Training, UAV|Comments Off on CSI and sUAS: Tools for the Crime Scene Analyst