All posts by EdwardM

FAA NPRM: 36% of all filed comments are the AMA’s form letter

I previously explained why filing form letters with the FAA NPRM on Remote ID is a waste of time.

On January 7th, the AMA sent out an email blast asking members to urgently file comments and conveniently provided a link to a form letter.

As of today, 36% of all filed comments in the NPRM are the AMA’s poorly executed form letter. Ryan, posting on a FB FPV group page found that 2,506 comments of 7,020 filed so far are copied from the AMA’s form letter.

Some allege that the AMA’s poor performance on this existential issue is that their main focus is on being the affiliated CBO whose membership is required for FRIA certified air fields. In other words, its a cash cow.

#FAA NPRM: Read this assessment by an aviation/UAS lawyer #RemoteID #NPRM #UAS #UAV

See  RID – Somebody’s Watching Me?

By Dawn M. K. Zoldi, (Colonel, USAF, Retired), attorney and expert on UAS law.

She identifies many of the issues I previously described including the failure of the FAA to meet the requirements of the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act – and proposes a solution with some similarities to my proposal.

She discusses data retention issues (a topic I have in my notes but have not had time to write about on this blog), and privacy issues including the 4th amendment.

EAA says “Proposed Remote ID Rule Contains Concerning Requirements” regarding #FAA #NPRM

The EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association, a global organization of aircraft builders, innovators, hobbyists and aviation enthusiasts:

EAA is very concerned that the FAA’s proposed rule on remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems could have a severe detrimental impact on traditional model aviation, and is preparing a full package of comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Source: Proposed Remote ID Rule Contains Concerning Requirements

Read the entire linked post from the Experimental Aircraft Association, a leading aviation group concerned with all aspects of aviation including home building aircraft, education, flight and much more. They call out problem areas in the FAA’s NPRM on Remote ID, including the indoor flight restriction problem that I first identified on this blog.

Note their ending comments:

EAA will provide guidance to members who wish to comment in the coming weeks. When you do comment, please be respectful and use rational, fact-driven arguments in your own words. Form letters and emotional comments have much less impact on the regulatory process. More updates will be provided as they become available.

By comparison, the R/C modeling association, the AMA, urged members two weeks ago to quickly file comments and offered a form letter to send or use as a template. Which was absolutely the wrong approach, as I have described in posts on this blog (see here and here).

Keep an eye out for the EAA’s guidance and  check out the guidance from others such as Drone U. (Downloadable information is located here).

I am proud to be a member of the EAA; I have stopped following the AMA on this critical issue (I am also a member of the AMA).

(I am in the midst of a two week period where I have almost no time to spend on the NPRM – I do have notes on more NPRM issues but will not have time until the middle of next week to resume research on these items.

For example, what is the real world impact on smart phone battery life of a once-per-second real time tracking system?

Smart phones extend their battery life by keeping electronics switched off as much as possible. This NPRM would require that the GPS be active continuously, the cellular transmitter be fired up every second, and the display and CPU/GPU likely in use simultaneously for running the R/C model control software. The display, the cellular transmitter and the GPS receiver are among the greatest power drawing components on the smart phone. This real time reporting requires the phone be operated in a maximum high power state continuously for the duration of flight. It is possible, especially in marginal cellular coverage areas, that the FAA’s Internet-based real time tracking system could use 30-50% of the phone’s battery in 20 to 30 minutes of flight. You’d have to recharge your phone’s battery before a 2nd or 3rd flight later in the day, creating yet another obstacle to flight. If I have time, I would like to test this and measure the impact on batteries.

I wrote my 2012 Masters thesis in Software Engineering on power management issues in Android phones.)

More: Why submitting a form letter comment to the #FAA #RemoteID #NPRM is a Waste of Time #UAS #UAV #Drones

In response to the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Remote ID of small UAS, at least one national organization urged members to urgently file comments and helpfully provided a form letter – which as I showed previously – were submitted by many people. Submitting form letters is a waste of your time, as I explained then.

Here is what happened when another agency with another NPRM was overwhelmed with form letter responses from the public – they ended up ignoring most public input!

In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) solicited public comments on proposed rules regarding Internet “net neutrality”.

The FCC received about 23 million public comments.

Subsequent analysis of those comments revealed that millions of comments were form letters or slightly re-written template letters or written by computer software “bots”.

“For example,  Ars Technica reported in May 2017  that 128,000 identical comments were submitted through the portal for receiving public comments on this particular matter.”

Source: https://techraptor.net/technology/news/985-of-non-form-letter-fcc-comments-support-net-neutrality

In many cases, “bots” had harvested actual comments by actual people, and then generated dozens more comments using the same names and addresses of real people, creating false public comments.

Ultimately,

“According to  Pew Research, only 6 percent of the roughly 23 million comments submitted to the FCC were actually unique. The rest were a combination of form letters and bots. The most popular form, submitted 2.8 million times, was a pro-net neutrality comment drafted by the advocacy group Battle for the Net.”

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/bots-form-letters-humans-fcc-net-neutrality-comments/

The FCC was so overwhelmed with these garbage comments that, according to Wired magazine,

“As a workaround, the FCC has decided to ignore the majority of comments submitted by the public in favor of lengthy legal arguments submitted by interest groups and corporations.”

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/bots-form-letters-humans-fcc-net-neutrality-comments/

The above is what happens when the public overwhelms the agency with form and template letters. It happened to the FCC. It could happen to the FAA as some groups have published form letters with instructions to “urgently” comment on the FAA NPRM.

How Should You Write a Comment to the FAA’s Remote ID NPRM?

Continue reading More: Why submitting a form letter comment to the #FAA #RemoteID #NPRM is a Waste of Time #UAS #UAV #Drones

Feeback sought: Draft of a concept to resolve FAA Remote ID conflicts with COPPA Law

Please also read the updated (January 12th and 14th) post about how the NPRM de facto eliminates most indoor flight of small UAS as Remote ID prevents flying if there is no GPS signal and the FAA asserts in the NPRM that only Remote ID compliant UAS may be sold.

Short Summary

  • Where Internet access is available, most flights of small UAS must be recorded, in real time, in an Internet database called a REMOTE ID USS.
  • Separately, there is a Federal law named Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that restricts the collection of data on children under age 13 (there is a bill in in Congress to raise that to under 16). This bill specifically includes geolocation data, and data collected from “toys and Internet of Things” devices as protected information on youth.
  • These restrictions apply to businesses, government and government contractors. There is no exemption for the FAA.
  • Even if they do not know they are collecting data on children, if a parent or guardian finds out after a flight that data has been collected, the parent has a legal right to request to review the data, request to delete the data and request to suspend further collection of the data. The FAA has no choice. Age restrictions on flight do not solve the problem as kids will still fly anyway and once notified, the REMOTE ID USS has to comply with COPPA.
  • We end up with, then, the FAA mandating collection of geolocation data on children while simultaneously another law, COPPA, says they cannot do that. Both cannot be true simultaneously.
  • This is a serious problem for the FAA’s NPRM and there are no obvious solutions within their current proposal. I propose a novel solution to eliminate most of the problems with Remote ID logging and COPPA and simplify the ease of compliance and costs for recreational flyers.

Background on COPPA

The FAA’s NPRM for remote ID of all small UAS includes a provision that where Internet access is available, all craft (except those < 0.55 pounds) must subscribe to and log their flight in real time, once per second, into an Internet database called a REMOTE ID USS.

I was tipped off by someone  in the legal field who says the mandatory collection of real time flight data – including of flights conducted by children – appears to conflict with a Federal law known as the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act which restricts the collection of data on children under age 13. This law applies  to businesses, the Federal government and any contractors they use – there is no exemption for the government to collect data on children. It specifically restricts the collection of geolocation data and data provided by “toys and Internet of Things” connected devices.  Yet the FAA plans for an Internet-connected database tracking all flights, including by children, in an Internet database known as a REMOTE ID USS.

(My background is engineering, not law. However, when designing products or services, if I see possible legal issues, I document them and ask for legal assistance. This post is seeking feedback on these issues and my proposed technical solution .)

If a parent or guardian becomes aware that information has been collected about their child, including geolocation data, the parent or guardian is legally entitled to let the service know  – in this case, the REMOTE ID USS. Once notified, the parent is legally entitled to request to review the data, to request suspension of data collection and to request deletion of all collected data. (In effect, essentially anyone could spoof these requests and ask for deletion of data.)

The FAA could, say, ban flights by kids under 13 (Congress is considering raise the age to under 16) but that does not solve this problem. A child could take Mom’s quadcopter out to  the backyard and fly it. Once Mom discovers this, COPPA protections kick in – and she can request review, suspension or deletion of the data afterwards.

The FAA knew this in 2015 when they issued  a report on  registering all pilots of remote UAS. In that report, they stated they would not allow anyone under age 13 to register as they would then have to deal with COPPA, but they noted that children under 13 could still fly under the supervision of an adult who has registered.

What has changed is that under the Remote ID NPRM, the FAA would now be logging all flights by children, which runs into difficulties with COPPA requirements.

(I have pages of supporting quotes from the Federal Trade Commission that describe COPPA in details, and extensive notes on how this relates to the NPRM. The above is only a brief summary of the COPPA issues. This is a real problem for the NPRM.)

I could not identify a workable solution to the “COPPA dilemma” of the FAA logging a child’s geolocation data in real time without coming up with an alternative way of tracking aircraft.

This is the proposed concept I came up with to solve this problem and I am seeking feedback on this idea.

Proposed Technical Solution to the COPPA Restrictions on Data Collection

Continue reading Feeback sought: Draft of a concept to resolve FAA Remote ID conflicts with COPPA Law

#FAA confirms that #RemoteID #NPRM Eliminates Most Indoor Flight #UAS #UAV #modelaircraft #Quadcopters

(Posted originally mid day on January 10th. Received feedback on social media and made several important edits late on the 10th. Then, made additional minor edits  January 12th to clarify some items, based on additional feedback. Notably have changed “ban”/”banned” to “eliminates” as a more accurate description of what happens to indoor flight when no commercially made, non-complaint aircraft are available. IF you read this before January 12th, there are important changes and clarifications.

As of January 14th, an FAA official acknowledges the FAA cannot regulate indoor airspace – but has not provided a specific solution to the restrictions imposed by only permitting the sale of compliant  aircraft that require GPS to fly.)

The FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning standards for use of Remote Identification on small unmanned aircraft has the side effect of eliminating [4]  nearly all indoor flight of compliant, commercially made and sold model aircraft (greater than 0.55 pounds).

This is because compliant aircraft cannot fly unless they have a GPS signal and most indoor locations will lack a GPS signal.

In an email to me on January 9th, the FAA’s Office of Rulemaking confirmed this is the case. On the 14th, an FAA official acknowledges they cannot regulate indoor airspace but has not offered a solution to the “can’t fly if no GPS signal” issue for all commercially built and sold small UAS.

How this occurs

  • The NPRM requires only certified remote ID capable craft are sold in the U.S. 2 years after the rule takes effect[1]. All new small UAS must have Remote ID.
  • Remote ID requires periodic transmission of the craft and/or operator’s latitude and longitude.
  • The latitude and longitude are obtained from GPS signals.
  • If no GPS signal is presence,  the Remote ID system automatically prevents the small UAS from taking flight.
  • Since GPS is not available in most indoor areas, this eliminates the operation of commercially made small model aircraft inside most buildings. This includes private homes, garages, shops, businesses,  warehouses, manufacturing plants, convention centers, exhibit halls, mines and caves and other interior locations.
  • The FAA intends to restrict the manufacturing and sale of small UAS to certified, compliant aircraft only, meaning Remote ID and GPS functional.  On page 16 of the NPRM, the FAA writes: “The FAA envisions that upon full implementation of this rule, no unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds will be commercially available that is not either a standard remote identification UAS or a limited remote identification UAS.” [2]
  • Only compliant aircraft could be sold as new, 2 years after the rule takes effect.
  • The FAA is indirectly regulating the use of indoor airspace by prohibiting the sale of non-compliant aircraft that could function indoors[3].The FAA has no legal jurisdiction to regulate indoor airspace and they have acknowledged this.
  • (January 14th update) On page 8 of the NPRM, the FAA writes“All UAS produced for operation in the airspace of the United States would have to comply with the design and production requirements established in this proposal with exceptions for amateur-built UAS, UAS of the United States government, and unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 0.55 pounds.”The bold face text implies the FAA will permit the sale of small UAS that have a label on the side saying “For indoor flight only”. And this will prevent their outdoor use, how?Essentially, we are back to a conventional regulatory system that is based on trust and enforcement, rather than software mandated control.

A method to obtain reliable, tamper proof latitude and longitude without  GPS and inside buildings has not been identified, and if such technology exists, could it work on small UAS?

Problem Summary

  • The FAA intends that only certified, compliant commercially built may be sold in the US.
  • Compliant UAS require functioning GPS to fly; if no GPS,  they cannot fly, which means any commercially sold small UAS will not fly in most indoor locations.
  • The FAA acknowledges it cannot regulate indoor airspace but has not resolved the conflict between the rules that prohibit sale of non-compliant small UAS and the lack of GPS signal indoors which de facto regulates access to indoor airspace.
  • The note on page 8 implies someone may sell a craft with a “For indoor use only” sticker on the side, which largely defeats the purpose of most of the NPRM requiring remote ID on all outdoor flights. Surely, no one will ever fly a drone with a “For indoor use only” sticker outside?

Please read the email from the FAA Office of Rulemaking below. If you read this before January 12th, or the 14th, and are revisiting, please see footnotes [1] through [5] to understand what changed since this was originally posted. Continue reading #FAA confirms that #RemoteID #NPRM Eliminates Most Indoor Flight #UAS #UAV #modelaircraft #Quadcopters

How to write and file comments on the #FAA #NPRM on #drones “remote ID” #UAS #UAV #Drone

On December 26th, 2019, the FAA released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking setting standards and requirements for all small UAS/model aircraft/quadcopters flown in the U.S.  The FAA has opened up a 60-day period during which members of the public may file comments about the proposal. We ave until

To learn about the proposal, go  here and click on the proceeding title.

On the next page you can access the NPRM document and supporting documents. You may also click on Comment Now! to submit your own comments. You may also upload a Word document file, if you wish.

Note that the NPRM is 319 pages long and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of supporting documents. This is a very complex rulemaking and the FAA has made it difficult for the general public to understand the details – we do not have teams of lawyers, engineers and other staff to go through all this.

How This Process Works

The Administrative Procedures Act requires that new proposed rules be posted to the public and the public be given an opportunity to comment on those rules. Unfortunately, the law does not require the agencies to listen to that feedback; it only requires collection of the feedback. An agency could, if it wished, accept the public’s comments, ignore them and issue its final rule. In practice, that does not normally happen.

Instead, the agency will first use software to analyze and remove duplicate filings, form letters and so on.

Agency staff will then begin reading the comments and identifying every unique issue. If dozens of people identify the same issues, then this is coalesced into a single issue point.

Once they have collected all of the issues raised, the FAA will proceed to interpret the issues and determine how to modify the proposed rule.

Once this lengthy process is completed, the FAA will issue its final rulemaking. In that document, they will list each of the key issues raised and explain how the resolved or did not resolve the points raised.

Good Comments / Bad Comments

The best comments are those that identify specific issues, explain the problems, provide facts and logic to back up your discussion, and suggest recommended alternatives.

The worst comments are those that rant and whine or which just copy form letters. These comments will be ignored by the FAA.

Continue reading How to write and file comments on the #FAA #NPRM on #drones “remote ID” #UAS #UAV #Drone

FAA plans to regulate home built model aircraft out of existence – you need to file comments now

The FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making for Remote ID goes well beyond just remote ID. I have not had time – yet – to read the entire proposal, but it does include a requirement that most all model aircraft be tracked in real time, once per second. Where “Internet is available” (which they mean 3G to 5G cell service), the position information must be relayed through a phone app to an Internet cloud database for real time tracking. They propose that third parties will run this air traffic management system and everyone will be charged an annual subscription fee. They’ve pulled a number out of a hat and say this might cost $30 per year (presumably PER aircraft); if this estimate is as accurate as the Affordable Care Act estimates were, then it will probably cost more like $100 per year. They will also change pilot registration to per aircraft registration, charging $5 per aircraft to be registered.

This is contrary to the recommendation of their own consensus of stakeholders advisory committee which recommend EITHER Internet tracking OR broadcast remote ID depending on the use and application. The FAA instead said it wants BOTH to be mandated. It is not entirely clear what happens when Internet is not available, and how they define that. If you have TMobile and no service, but Verizon has coverage are you required to also have Verizon service? While you can fly without Internet service such as in remote lands, there may be enforced restrictions such as a 400 foot horizontal limit (enforced by the certified quadcopter controller).

Continue reading FAA plans to regulate home built model aircraft out of existence – you need to file comments now

“No glasses” 3D Holograms?

Light Field Labs has raised an additional US $28 million in funding to develop and produce free air holographic display technology. They are said to have a working prototype now and the additional funding will enable them to scale up to an actual product.

The aim is to create holographic objects that appear to be three dimensional and float in space without head-mounted gear such as augmented reality or virtual reality goggles.”

Source: Light Field Labs : 3D Holograms no glasses Deep Dive – fxguide

The principle people behind the technology had developed the Lytro camera technology. As best I can tell, it may be similar to a digital implementation of a conventional, analog, film-based hologram. In the original hologram technology, you look at a flat image that is, basically, like a window pane. As you move to the left or right, you see the true 3D image visible from that point in space. In the laser-based hologram, the window pane is a film that has recorded light interference patterns.

From the description down the page, here, my interpretation is they have created a currently small window pane that is replicating the light interference hologram concept, but in the digital domain. Obviously, it takes a tremendous amount of computational horsepower and for video, high bandwidth, both of which are becoming available as tech advances.

I presume, also, that this technology can be used to project objects in front of the viewing plane, as is done in stereoscopic 3D. In other words, actors or objects can be appear to be between you and the viewing screen – or behind the screen.

This tech creates true 3D that does not require glasses for viewing.

Another reporter does not understand 3D

3D box office revenues have taken a steep dive, with box office sales at their lowest level in eight years. It may finally be time to say sayonara to those bulky tinted glasses.

I would be overjoyed on the day that 3D finally bites the dust. The tinted glasses overly darken the screen, and the rare effects that cater to the technology often only serve to make me woozy.

Source: 3D Movie Box Office Sales Hit Lowest Level in 8 Years

The reporter writes about films but when it comes to 3D, is a dufus – movie theater 3D glasses are light weight, clear, polarizing filters, not “bulky tinted glasses”. The reporter believes she is wearing tinted glasses when she is not – apparently does not understand the concept of polarized lenses. Since she does not like 3D (sample size n = 1), then no one should enjoy 3D. Wow. If she doesn’t like 3D, then she does not have to watch it, but alas, she wants 3D to be gone because no one should enjoy 3D 🙂

Continue reading Another reporter does not understand 3D