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Drones In Airspace Regulation.

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Colin D

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Flying from Lax to JFK last week I had the unnerving experience of looking out the plane window about two thirds into the flight to see a drone pass right under us :shock:. Not only that it was so close I could clearly see the contours and it's design in detail. It had to be much closer than one kilometre to the AA plane. It looked exactly like the drones shown on TV reports on the war in Iraq, it had no identifiable markings.


This is got me thinking if there are any regulations on drones entering into civil aviation flying space. As I said this was one of those bigger drones used by the CIA and military.


Our plane did not take any evasive action, so either the pilot was aware of the drones path or wasn't aware at all.


After that frightening sight I ordered another bourbon and coke and closed the shutter.


Tomorrow we fly Virgin America to Vegas, no more drones please.


ColinD
 

markis10

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It could be a lot closer than 1km and still be legal, as normal separation standards would apply.
 

stoneman

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Wow! That'd be a bit unnerving :shock: But an experience most don't get!!
 

Colin D

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It could be a lot closer than 1km and still be legal, as normal separation standards would apply.

Well I can say with confidence it was a lot closer than a kilometre, it seemed to be closer than 500m to me. Speaking to a pilot who works for a businessman out of Vegas he said the location puts it near a US Airforce base and could explain its existence in the air, although it was very high up so not sure what it would be doing.

The question is, do the civil aviation pilots know they are in their air space, or do the operators of the drones know they are close or in civilian flight space/paths? You would have to think so otherwise it is inevitable one will collide with a plane.
 

Jeffrey O'Neill

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I had to laugh at this episode

[video=youtube_share;hk8_QomqSt4]http://youtu.be/hk8_QomqSt4[/video]
 

markis10

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Well I can say with confidence it was a lot closer than a kilometre, it seemed to be closer than 500m to me. Speaking to a pilot who works for a businessman out of Vegas he said the location puts it near a US Airforce base and could explain its existence in the air, although it was very high up so not sure what it would be doing.

The question is, do the civil aviation pilots know they are in their air space, or do the operators of the drones know they are close or in civilian flight space/paths? You would have to think so otherwise it is inevitable one will collide with a plane.

Regardless they still had positive separation, and the drone is far more likely to be aware of the aircraft around it than the civil aircraft. Just because there is no pilot on board does not mean normal ATC procedures are not applied.
 

eric2011

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Would the drone/operator have TCAS as the commercial plane would have.
 

markis10

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Would the drone/operator have TCAS as the commercial plane would have.

More than likely it would in fact have a sensor pack that gives it capabilities electronically and optically that are far superior to anything in the commercial world. The AAS52 targeting system in a predator for instance would pickup an inbound aircraft well before it got close.
 
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harvyk

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Well I can say with confidence it was a lot closer than a kilometre, it seemed to be closer than 500m to me. Speaking to a pilot who works for a businessman out of Vegas he said the location puts it near a US Airforce base and could explain its existence in the air, although it was very high up so not sure what it would be doing.

The question is, do the civil aviation pilots know they are in their air space, or do the operators of the drones know they are close or in civilian flight space/paths? You would have to think so otherwise it is inevitable one will collide with a plane.

Just out of interest, without proper measuring equipment, through a window which has a curve (which will distort things even if only a small amount), without knowing exactly how big the drone actually was, how could you tell exactly how close the drone was?

A few weeks back, I was talking to a guy whom does aerial surveys with drones (ended up being a good couple of hours, much to the Mrs's annoyance). It basically boiled down to the rules where pretty much the same had it been a manned aircraft, the only exception was the pilot was standing on the ground rather than been in the air in the aircraft, this included right down to doing proper radio calls and holding appropriate pilots licenses.

So whilst the drone you saw might not have had anyone on board, I would be willing to bet, that it's presence in the air would be treated in a similar vein to all other traffic in that airspace at the same time.
 

eric2011

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More than likely it would in fact have a sensor pack that gives it capabilities electronically and optically that are far superior to anything in the commercial world. The AAS52 targeting system in a predator for instance would pickup an inbound aircraft well before it got close.

Ok, fair enough. Would the commercial flight TCAS pick up the drone if by some remote chance it was tracking close enough to the commercial flights flight path.
 

markis10

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Ok, fair enough. Would the commercial flight TCAS pick up the drone if by some remote chance it was tracking close enough to the commercial flights flight path.


TCAS requires ADSB which most aircraft have, if the drone has it and I suspect it does (google loon balloons do for instance) then again it would be no different to a normal aircraft. IF its in Australia, ADSB would be mandatory for a Predator.
 
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