Category Archives: Drones

“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 all 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.

AT&T, T-Mobile fight speed tests that could prove their coverage maps wrong | Ars Technica

AT&T and T-Mobile are fighting a Federal Communications Commission plan to require drive tests that would verify whether the mobile carriers’ coverage claims are accurate.

The carriers’ objections came in response to the FCC seeking comment on a plan to improve the nation’s inadequate broadband maps. Besides submitting more accurate coverage maps, the FCC plan would require carriers to do a statistically significant amount of drive testing.

Source: AT&T, T-Mobile fight speed tests that could prove their coverage maps wrong | Ars Technica

Tests conducted by some states suggest that coverage maps may overstate actual coverage by as much as double the actual coverage.

The FAA, in their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring Remote Identification on all model aircraft, and further requiring logging in real time via a cell phone connection – was oblivious to the fraudulent coverage maps provided by cell carriers. Further, a month ago I drove out in the eastern part of my state in an area running LTE and showing full coverage – but in reality, over a very, very wide area, there was LTE service – but no data! Only voice and text messaging was supported.

A related problem has been that up to the present, the broad coverage map we see when looking at the state looks great – until you zoom in and discover that many of the covered areas are, in fact, 2G voice and text only.

Drones take to the skies in overhead police-state surveillance in US East Coast cities

Last Friday, the mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there are more than 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, announced plans to deploy drones to enforce social-distancing rules.

Source: Social Distancing Enforcement Drones Arrive in the U.S.

Yesterday I looked up the CDC’s rules on isolation and quarantine. They have the power to apprehend and move anyone with a contagious disease into quarantine. They also have a similar power for those who are thought to be a direct risk of spreading the  disease due to likely  having direct contact with the sick. I could not find anything giving them the right to order the quarantine of healthy people. Would like to see others with more knowledge on that topic provide us with some insight.

It seems the CDC has chosen to declare that everyone in the country is a high risk spreader of disease, which seems questionable.

China using #drones to enforce quarantine

Source: China adapts surveying, mapping, delivery drones to enforce world’s biggest quarantine and contain coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

They are being used with sensors to detect people out and about, and to broadcast public health announcements from overhead speakers.

I wonder how long until the AmazonUPSGoogle drone fleets decide to play loud advertising as they fly low over our homes and cities?

FAA NPRM: The goal is to create toll roads in the sky and eliminate most recreational flight

“We’re building infrastructure to manage drones, those flying 400 feet or below and weighing 55 pounds or less,” Healander said. “We’re building highways in the sky or toll roads for commercial and recreational drones.

Source: Group pushing for drone highway over our heads

Looks like the  real reason for the Remote ID NPRM just got loose! Its about creating toll roads in the air six feet off the ground in our backyards.

The FAA, Homeland Security, and private industry have taken ownership of the air in your backyard (and inside your home – see my NPRM comments) and then will charge you a fee to access this airspace.

The FAA says it has the right to regulate the “navigable airspace” of the United States and it, not Congress, has defined that to be ground level and up.  This means the airspace in your backyard starting at ground level.

In the NPRM, the FAA envisions a world where only “compliant” drones are sold. A compliant drone is not capable of flight if it cannot receive a GPS signal – in other words cannot be flown in most indoor locations as GPS signals do  not penetrate most buildings. Through this NPRM, the FAA regulates your use of indoor airspace too. Thus, the FAA is asserting it regulates all “air” in the United States including inside your own home.

But, says the FAA, you can use the airspace in your backyard or inside your home if you pay a fee to be monitored in real time, sending data through your cellular phone data plan ($)  to a third-party, privatized air traffic control system, charging a fee for service.

This regulatory scheme is predicated on a hypothesized massive threat from model aircraft.

If you read the above article, the people quoted vastly exaggerate the risk of drones – as noted in my own comments on the NPRM, the FAA left out that “industry experts” said there was no drone, in one of their examples, and in another scary story they told of a drone flying over a stadium, the FAA left out that it was flown by a child. Four of the FAA’s cited references went to “page not found” errors.  If the threat is so great, why do they have to omit key details in their evidence?

The goal is to privatize the airspace and restrict  use to the wealthy, large corporations and government. That is what many in industry want to happen and they are pressuring the FAA to adopt rules that would meet industry’s desire. From the above linked article, we see this is the case – the goal is to create toll roads above our heads.

The FAA’s NPRM on Remote ID  seems written by industry and Homeland Security – and  eliminates as many recreational users of the airspace as possible  to privatize the airspace for profit. By mandating real time tracking and logging of every recreational flight, the FAA may use software to find infractions, even minor ones, and automatically generate fines. This creates a “fear” factor that will ground most everyone.

Post 9/11, the FAA tweaked regulations in a way that largely grounded many of the nation’s ultralight aircraft. They did this by eliminating the waiver for 2-seat ultralight trainers – this largely ended the availability of flight training for ultralight aircraft and the ultralight market collapsed.  20 years ago, popular air shows had acres of ultralights on display. At a huge air show I attended more recently, there were five ultralights on display. Everyone I asked told me the same story – the FAA de facto eliminated ultralight flying – because, they said, Homeland Security was scared of ultralights. And they all noted that air shows used to have acres of aircraft.

The FAA  will not ban model aircraft but instead are being pushed to create rules and regulations that have the same effect, limiting model aircraft to the wealthy (and limited locations) and to drones operated by the AmazonUPSGoogle cartels flying 100′ over our homes, collecting aerial surveillance imagery and wireless signals that will be analyzed for consumer product opportunities (and sold to local governments and law enforcement as well), and for use by international foreign espionage. (Think of the business intelligence  gathered from low flights over competitors business facilities.)

The “cat is out of the bag“, so to speak. The primary purpose of this Remote ID NPRM is to privatize the airspace for industry. The FAA   can accomplish that by exaggerating  the risks of model aircraft and use that as justification to create an expensive, Rube Goldberg-like complex, expensive, privatized air traffic control system. Entrepreneurs see an economic opportunity to create toll roads in the air to clear out the airspace for industrial applications.  Those entrepreneurs do not have a business unless you are mandated to subscribe to their services. (A  genuine business would sell its products and services based on value to the customer – here, there is generally no value delivered to recreational flyers.) To that end, they have run a PR campaign fostering fear and hysteria over recreational drone usage in order to provide cover for unnecessary and draconian regulations.

I hope you have filed comments with the FAA – comments are due by March 2nd. There is plenty of information on this blog on how to do that.

U.S. government “Tips for Submitting Effective Comments” regarding FAA NPRM on Remote ID

Here is the Federal government’s official guideline for submitting comments regarding notices of proposed rulemaking:

Tips for Submitting Effective Comments (PDF)

Some organizations have encouraged their members to submit “Form letters” and barely modified “Templates” as a submission. As noted on this blog last month, this is the wrong way to go about making a difference in the rule making proceeding.

Here is the official statement from the U.S. government on the Regulations.gov web site:

Form Letters
Organizations often encourage their members to submit form letters designed to address issues common to their membership. Organizations including industry associations, labor unions, and conservation groups sometimes use form letters to voice their opposition or support of a proposed rulemaking. Many in the public mistakenly believe that their submitted form letter constitutes a “vote” regarding the issues concerning them. Although public support or opposition may help guide important public policies, agencies make determinations for a proposed action based on sound reasoning and scientific evidence rather than a majority of votes. A single, well-supported comment may carry more weight than a thousand form letters.

Of course as showed previously, many comments were filed by those that followed some organizations’ misdirection to file form letters.

When I checked this morning, I found this in the comment file including the first one labeled “Template”.

From the linked PDF above:

8. The comment process is not a vote. The government is attempting to formulate the best policy, so when crafting a comment it is important that you adequately explain the reasoning behind your position.
9. Identify credentials and experience that may distinguish your comments from others. If you are commenting in an area in which you have relevant personal or professional experience (i.e., scientist, attorney, fisherman, businessman, etc.) say so.
10. Agency reviewers look for sound science and reasoning in the comments they receive. When possible, support your comment with substantive data, facts, and/or expert opinions. You may also provide personal experience in your comment, as may be appropriate. By supporting your arguments well you are more likely to influence the agency decision making.

If you still wish to file a form letter and submit a template letter with “Template” as the first word of your comment, go right ahead and waste your time.

FAA NPRM Summary of key points and recommendations, in my comments

Updated on February 12, 2020.

Summary of Key Points and Recommendations

The NPRM eliminates most indoor flights of small UAS

The NPRM envisions that only Remote ID compliant craft will be sold. Remote ID compliant craft are unable to take off if they cannot receive a GPS signal. As a GPS signal is not receivable in most indoor locations, this de facto eliminates indoor flight of small UAS and implies the FAA is regulating the indoor airspace, over which it has no jurisdiction. This indoor flight restriction violates PL 115-254 Sec. 354. Or maybe not – comments on Page 8 and 22 of the NPRM suggest anyone can sell non-compliant drones by adding a “For indoor use only” sticker since the FAA cannot regulate indoor airspace nor the products on the shelf at Walmart. Which makes much of this NPRM moot.

FAA’s Proposed Use of FCC Part 15 Spectrum Will Cause Interference and Crashes

The FAA proposes to use 47 CFR Part 15 of the FCC rules and regulations for transmission of Remote ID broadcast beacon signals and requires that transmitters “must be designed to maximize the range at which the broadcast can be received”. The requirement to “maximize the range” mandates that small UAS transmit at the 4 w ERP level (1 watt spread spectrum, 6 db gain antenna) – from aircraft potentially located hundreds of feet in the air. This is not how Part 15 bands are intended to be used, will cause interference to residential consumer devices, and may lead to receiver desense and loss of flight control signals, causing SUAS to crash, when multiple SUAS are flown in close proximity to each other.

The FAA Envisions Using Wi-Fi in a way that is Not Technically Feasible

The NPRM proposes using Wi-Fi, if available, to log flights with the Remote ID USS, particularly with a presumably lower cost Limited Remote ID system. Small UAS that use a flight control app on the smart phone are communicating with the SUAS craft using Wi-Fi. Currently existing small UAS implement a Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) on the aircraft and the phone connects to this AP. The phone cannot simultaneously connect to a second AP that has Internet access; the phone can connect to only one AP at a time. Thus, Wi-Fi cannot be used to provide a Remote ID USS connection. The NPRM proposes a Limited Remote ID that appears intended for low cost consumer quadcopters that would be controlled via a smart phone flight control app, logging the flight to the Remote ID USS over Wi-Fi. As envisioned, this is not technically feasible. The flight control app would have to log the flight over a smart phone Mobile Data connection. This means the concept of a low cost Limited Remote ID small UAS is unobtainable. The Limited Remote ID should be dropped and replaced with a broadcast beacon Remote ID for Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) and Internet-based Remote ID USS retained only for Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations (BVLOS). Related: Based on my own tests, the addition of a Remote ID USS data logging app, transmitting once per second, may reduce smart phone battery capacity by 10%. When combined with a smart phone-based flight control app, this may drain 40-50% of the battery in 30 minutes of flying.

The NPRM violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

COPPA specifies strict protections regarding the collection of data related to children, including geolocation data and data from “toys and Internet of Things”. An age restriction or permission from a parent or guardian to collect data does not resolve the problem. If a child flew a quad with or without permission, the parent or guardian is legally entitled to contact the data collector and ask to review, delete or suspend future data collection. The NPRM, however requires logged data be retained for at least six months – but COPPA applies to the Federal government – there is no exemption for the FAA. This is a problem for the use of the Internet to log operator information to a Remote ID USS.

The NPRM violates the 4th Amendment

In the event a small UAS (SUAS) can receive a GPS signal indoors, when that SUAS is flown inside a home, it is required to log its activity in the Remote ID USS. The FAA is mandating the installation of a surveillance device inside a home, which lawyers tell me is not permitted by the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Others suggest there may conflicts with the 5th Amendment, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prohibition on collecting electronic signals of Americans.

Click the “Continued reading” link, here, to continue reading my full Summary of FAA NPRM Remote ID issues. There are a lot!

Continue reading FAA NPRM Summary of key points and recommendations, in my comments

#FAA #NPRM #REMOTEID: Proposal creates threat to national security

The NPRM says data sent to and collected by a Remote ID USS is not restricted to the basic message elements of operator and craft identification and location. The FAA specifically suggests a Remote ID USS could also collect “a camera feed or telemetry data”. (See Page 97, Section X, A, 2, Paragraph 2).

In effect, the NPRM establishes a baseline for a national, real-time, aerial surveillance network having significant implications for personal privacy and safety and exposes a significant national security risk.

In January 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior grounded all of its foreign made drones over concerns that such drones could hypothetically conduct surveillance and transmit intelligence data over the Internet[1]. In reality, a drone that is not connected to the Internet or whose SD card is never accessible to the Internet, is incapable of “spying”. The US Army grounded its Chinese-made drones in 2017, over fears of espionage.

Yet simultaneously, the FAA is mandating all drones be connected to the Internet in real time – and most of those drones will be made in China – and the Remote ID USS will be located who-knows-where.

Per the government’s own statements, the FAA is mandating a threat to national security by establishing an Internet connected fleet of aerial drones collecting data across the entire country.


[1] https://dronedj.com/2020/01/29/interior-department-grounds-drone-fleet-with-new-order-issued-today/

FAA NPRM: major purpose is to develop a nationwide aerial surveillance system

The FAA’s NPRM directly fosters the development of a nationwide aerial surveillance system, using the fleet of commercial and recreational drones to record data all over the country and log that data in real time.

This includes close in, low altitude detailed photos of your yard, your children, your pets, businesses and their inventories and finished products, their potential expansion, and data for law enforcement.

It is right there in the NPRM itself:

“However, the proposal does not prohibit designers, producers, or operators from including a capability for limited remote identification UAS to broadcast information or data unrelated to remote identification, such as a camera feed or telemetry data.” Page 97, Section X, A, 2, Paragraph 2

KittyHawk noted in a blog post that some Remote ID USS business models may be offered for “free”.

When a service is offered or “free” it means we or our privacy are being sold for a profit.

Imagine the market value of obtaining very low altitude high resolution images of your back yard, your children, the clothing you wear, the quality of backyard furniture you have, the types of automobiles you drive, how well you care for your yard, the types of toys your children are playing with – and so much more. This information can be used to discern your household income and wealth. With modern image AI techniques, much of this image analysis can be done automatically.

Commercial drone fleets can and will be mapping your Wi-Fi networks and identifying what Bluetooth services are located inside your homes. Your own recreational drone, flying in your backyard, might be simultaneously taking photos to share with your Remote ID USS – and you might not even be aware of it.

All of this information will be collected, analyzed, interpreted, and sold to third parties.

Law enforcement may use these close range aerial images to look for suspicious activities.

Local government will use these images to check for non-compliant property uses, code violations, and home modifications without a permit. I lived in a city where putting in a portable 3 x 5 foot garden shed is treated as permit-required event, and a taxable addition to one’s property. They hired a company to conduct aerial photography to find potential violators. Now, with the data paid for by drone operators, this information will be available at much lower cost.

In that same city, if your lawn grass exceeded six inches in height, you could be subject to a code enforcement officer. For now, they only enforce that rule if a neighbor calls in a complaint. With low cost data from drones, this can be determined automatically – does not even need artificial intelligence!

Businesses will purchase low altitude photos from drone companies to keep tabs on their competitors. Analysts can discern arrivals of inventory and departures of finished products, just by counting trucks. In some cases, inventory and finished products may be stored outside and will now be accessible to competitors.

I hypothesized in a post yesterday that something was missing in this NPRM process. This week, the FAA rejected requests from the EAA and AMA to extend the comment period, and did so using unduly harsh language, stating that they needed to enact the final rule as fast as possible.

The FAA is hell bent on enacting this NPRM – an NPRM that does not even solve the problems they say they are trying to solve due to numerous and necessary loopholes (indoor flight capable drones and COPPA).

Is this national aerial surveillance network the actual goal?

This is Orwell’s 1984 on steroids. This is the story the media needs to grab on to in regards to this FAA NPRM and future automated drone fleets. This is the story Congress needs to hear about.

The purpose of this FAA NPRM is the establishment of automated drone delivery AND nationwide aerial surveillance. The rest of the goals and claims seem like just noise.

Update: Imagine Remote ID USS collecting close in high resolution of your kids in your yard, or walking to school. All of this is violating COPPA and it will be very hard for parents to identify the offending drone operator, and then obtain the Remote ID USS, and then figure out how to contact them to remove those images from their database.