Category Archives: Drones

Prep’ing for more drone regulations: “Senators alarmed over potential Chinese drone spy threat”

Lawmakers who were briefed on hundreds of intrusions over the White House, Capitol and Pentagon worry about possible espionage.

Source: Senators alarmed over potential Chinese drone spy threat – POLITICO

In the past week or so, there have been multiple mass murder incidents (Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Virginia) involving guns or knives. Rather than address that, Congress and DHS would prefer to generate lots of fear over toy RC model aircraft.

This is prep work to have DHS (the power behind the FAA) write more restrictive drone regulations.

Even though they acknowledge there has been no actual threats – they use the monster under the bed approach to explain they are afraid. If we can imagine a threat, then we must be very scared.

They also come as Congress debates extending current federal authorities and adopting new ones to track the aerial vehicles as potential security threats.

….

“There’s YouTube videos that could walk your grandparents through how to update the software on one of these drones to be non-detectable and to do a whole lot of other things — get rid of elevation ceilings, all kinds of stuff,” said a government contractor who has helped to collect the data for federal authorities. “If you were to go buy a DJI drone at the store, it wouldn’t fly over airports or specific cities because of a specific no-fly zone. So, anything that we see in DC that is a DJI-manufactured product has been hacked or manipulated to enable flight in these zones.”

You can see where this is going – they will again propose to ban the sale of RC aircraft that can be modified – and likely resurrect their attempt to ban homemade RC aircraft altogether (which was part of the original proposal from December 2019). It will not stop actual threat actors – they can still build their own aircraft as has been done for 90 years!

Further, am guessing they will eventually propose that anyone flying a drone >250 grams end up with the equivalent of an FAA remote pilot license for all flights outside FAA sanctioned airfields.

All flights outside sanctioned airfields are already required to have remote ID (as of Sep 2023) – and the FAA is working with a third party to develop remote ID monitoring systems that will track everything in the air around all cities.

These news stories about “Congress briefed on intrusions”, or people in Europe arrested for flying drones over the incredibly remote Svalbard Island (must be Russian intelligence) – are groundwork propaganda to prepare for the next round of regulations. There will be more stories like this. You may remember those stories back in 2018-2019 of drones going to cause air disasters? Those disasters did not happen and haven’t happened since the new rules were enacted – but those rules are not yet in effect! – and nearly all scary drone stories vanished from the news.

But now we are back – not with scary air disaster scenarios but now it’s nebulous scary national security threats.

We see where this is going:

  • New regulations will be introduced requiring the FAA to track all drone flights using the Remote ID system, and a network of receivers throughout the country. It’ll be ADSB but for model aircraft. This is back to the original proposal – but shifts network tracking from end users to the network itself (where it properly belongs).
  • Homemade model aircraft will be banned – except for use at FAA sanctioned approved model airfields. This is what was proposed by the FAA in their original remote ID rules. In fact, the original proposal said it would gradually fade out approved airfields such that eventually, no homemade model aircraft could be flown anywhere in the U.S. While that was removed from the final rule, this line of thinking has probably returned.
  • Am guessing Congress will eventually require a drone pilot’s license in addition to the remote ID network. This is a guess but it’s the kind of thinking that goes on in Congress.

Update: In a related move FCC Bans Authorizations for Devices That Pose National Security Threat | Federal Communications Commission (refers to communications and camera containing gear designed and manufactured by selected companies in China)

Guessing will see a new round of drone regulations: “‘Swarm’ of drones spotted flying above UK nuclear plant”

In 2019, in the lead up to the FAA’s proposed rules on R/C model aircraft, the media ran frequent scary stories about drone sightings (many of which were not even real). The stories were so frequent, and so often wrong or left out critical details – that they seemed to have been a coordinated public relations campaign by those wanting to regulate model aircraft.

The result was Homeland Security wrote the FAA’s proposed rules, largely based on an assumption that anyone flying an R/C model aircraft is a terrorist (the hobby has been around since the 1930s…)

The sighting was one of two in the space of four days.

Source: ‘Swarm’ of drones spotted flying above UK nuclear plant

Now we have recent reports of “Russians” allegedly flying drones on the Svalbard Island, and in northern Norway. Then this – 11 reports over almost 36 months of drones near or over nuclear facilities in the UK.

The US rules on mandatory remote identification of newly sold drones takes effect in December (postponed from September due to technology delays). All new drones must broadcast their position and owner information. By fall of 2023, all drones and most RC model aircraft – must broadcast their position, or no longer be flown except at FAA approved airfields.

“Scots cop called officers for help after being pursued by drone but dot in sky was actually Jupiter”

Reminds one of the Sussex Police and that Gatwick drone fiasco two years ago – when the only confirmed drones in the sky were the FLEET of industrial drones operated by the police themselves:

It was only after a drawn-out “pursuit” that she sought help from senior officers, who told her it was Jupiter – some 365 million miles away.

Source: Scots cop called officers for help after being pursued by drone but dot in sky was actually Jupiter – Daily Record

But it’s okay, lights on buildings and towers miles from Gatwick were being reported as drone sightings. Clowns.

Summary of FAA Remoted ID rules

Here is a summary from the Academy of Model Aeronautics: AMA IN ACTION Advocacy for Members | Academy of Model Aeronautics

I am a member of the AMA. I was critical of how the AMA initially re-acted last January when it urged members to file a form letter to the FAA’s NPRM proceeding. We know that sending form letters are not a good approach to dealing with the regulatory process. The best is to write individual, or at least individually edited, letters with specific talking points.

That said, the AMA has done good work since then, forming alliances and lobbying Congress, and in interaction and education of FAA staff.

One year ago, the FAA’s NPRM literally spelled the end of the home built model aircraft world, and was likely to end the recreational flying of even purchased/built products due to its proposed requirement to log all flights, in real time, over the Internet. This would have likely required a monthly subscription fee.

What we ended up with one year later is vastly improved. It meets the Congressional law directive to implement Remote ID – without going beyond what Congress asked for. The final rule permits retrofitting existing aircraft with an add on Remote ID Module. It no longer terminates FRIA applications, a feature the FAA originally envisioned as shutting down home built model aircraft.

Aircraft under 250 grams do not need to have a Remote ID.

For most of us, if we continue flying at our local air field, we don’t need to do anything. If we wish – or we wish to fly elsewhere – we can add a Remote ID module to our aircraft.

We will need to register ourselves with the FAA as we’ve had to do now for several years, but will also need to add our aircraft Remote ID information into the registration database. Whereas the FAA had proposed a fee per aircraft, they eliminated the per aircraft fee.

Some existing, commercially built aircraft (such as some DJI drones) may be able to implement Remote ID via software updates. DJI’s proposal has been to embed Remote Id information inside the existing control link.

Note – I’ve seen posts on social media blaming the AMA for Remote ID. Those posts are nonsense. The AMA should not be blamed and should instead be thanked.

Congress passed a law that directed the FAA to implement Remote ID. The FAA had no choice in the matter – only the implementation.

The FAA’s original NPRM was ladled down with nonsense by the Department of Homeland Security which ran the original proposal off into nonsense.

Fortunately, the AMA, and many, many others vociferously argued against the original NPRM – and the FAA appears to have listened. In the end, the FAA implemented what Congress required it to do – Remote ID.

Don’t blame the AMA for this – the AMA helped make these regulations vastly more palatable to the R/C model community. Thank the AMA. I am thanking the AMA for the work they did on this with a positive outcome.

“Drug Cartel Now Assassinates Its Enemies With Bomb-Toting Drones”

For most of us, drones are fun flying and a fun aerial camera for amazing video. But for others, toys and tools become weapons.

Using mid to high end consumer drones with attached explosives:

The tactic has become widespread on battlefields overseas and now appears to be proliferating to organized crime.

Source: Drug Cartel Now Assassinates Its Enemies With Bomb-Toting Drones – The Drive

We know what government will do, of course – an eventual ban on consumer radio controlled aircraft. Guns and vehicles, also used in their cartel terror campaigns, however, will not be banned.

The FAA has formerly proposed the eventual ban on home construction of all DIY model aircraft – and allow only commercially built, certified model aircraft that transmit their location in real time, via cellular networks, to government databases. The FAA also proposes to ban the indoor flight of quadcopters, even inside your own home by allowing flight only when a GPS signal is present. The FAA has no legal jurisdiction to regulate the airspace inside your home but they have proposed doing that; they already assert they own all the airspace in your backyard and on your patio, from the ground up.