Good New York Times round-up of recent examples and some of the policy issues presented by "drone journalism". Excerpt:

The best way to film the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, the Philippines, said Lewis Whyld, a British photographer, was from the air.
But Mr. Whyld did not want to beg for a ride on a military helicopter, taking the space of much-needed aid. So he launched a drone into the skies above the city. In addition to shots that showed the scale of the damage, broadcast by CNN recently, his drone discovered two bodies that were later recovered by the authorities, he said in an interview.
“The newspaper was for still images,” said Mr. Whyld, who builds his own drones, “but the Internet is for this.”
Mr. Whyld, and CNN, are not alone in exploring the potential of drones. The Associated Press and News Corporation have used them to show the scale of large disasters. News Corporation has also used them to shoot sports in Australia. Sophisticated nature documentaries use them to get intimate shots of wildlife. Paparazzi use them to chase celebrities in Europe, and reports suggest they have been used to pursue celebrities in the United States, too.

...

Journalism programs, including those at the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, have started drone journalism courses. Columbia does not teach hands-on skills, but students at Missouri have used drones over the Missouri River for a report about hydraulic fracturing and over the prairie for a story about controlled burns. But in August, the F.A.A. ordered journalism schools to stop flights unless they obtained permission from the agency.

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 26, 2013 at 11:34am

Can't one medium sized bird take an non-prop engine offline?

No, absolutely not.  They are designed for geese.  IIRC, that airplane that landed in the Hudson flew through a flock of geese.

You don't get that 10-15s because with that advance you only know it is somewhere around in the distance of 1km (AT MOST!) if it is particularly audible. 

So these helicopters fly at 240 km/h below 400 feet?  Really?

Comment by BluSky1 on November 26, 2013 at 1:36pm

Can't one medium sized bird take an non-prop engine offline?

Please Link me an article of this happening that isn't from the 80's

     

The small amount of risk is not justification for the hysterical  comments of a few on this forum. Yes we need to find the safest way to integrate all these devices.

Most people with PHDs and college degrees agree on this topic the rules & regulations should be based on how high a drone flies or how heavy it is.
I personally feel anything under 4lbs and 400feet should be ignored and treated as model aircraft thus ruled by our current laws about privacy.

I totally dig DARC classification system The FAA needs to use it as a road-map the best and brightest in this field came up with these concepts.

https://droneconference.org/darc2013_guidebook.pdf


T3
Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on November 26, 2013 at 2:45pm

"So these helicopters fly at 240 km/h below 400 feet?  Really?"

I have witnessed twice EC135 flying at 200m AGL +/- 50m what is something like 600ft. I know that because I have accounted well over 1000 UAV flights at exactly 200m and saw a few times cropdusters (or rather mosquitodusters) coming below so I can judge that altitude. It is not unreasonable to imagine medevac helo coming lower in disaser zone just before landing what might be 1km away.

If you are that amazed of the technology we use regularly in Eastern Europe, come visit us. It is spectacular to see.

Comment by Gary McCray on November 26, 2013 at 5:09pm

Laws and customs vary greatly by country, Spanish fire fighting planes seem to have simple right of way over everything including swimmers and row boats (paddle fast to get out of way).

But in the US normal aicraft operate at over 500 feet under normal circumstances.

Of course emergency operations at disaster sites are NOT normal and usually operate within a temporary restricted zone within which all aircraft are expected to be under direct control of emergency planners.

Whether it is a helicopter and a Quadcopter or 2 full sized helicopters, the potential for disaster is high.

And I suppose it is understandable when they get a bit testy seeing videos take from uncontrolled and unauthorized aircraft.

Comment by BluSky1 on November 27, 2013 at 7:01am

Sorry I just simply do not agree a quad-copter that is 4lbs and under 400 feet is not an aircraft by legal definition.

Should you fly a rc plane or quad-copter in a disaster area with out approval?

No

Do micro drones under 4lb pose a risk to real sized aircraft a very minor one this is proven by the lack of any real reports of a micro drone taking down a real sized aircraft Ever.

Look at Manhattan that idiot phantom pilot in the worst possible scenario and most crowed city in USA and still nobody was hurt.

Reality is simple and proven drones under 4lbs do not pose a significant threat to manned aircraft, civilians and structures on the ground.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 27, 2013 at 7:15am

I have witnessed twice EC135 flying at 200m AGL +/- 50m what is something like 600ft. I know that because I have accounted well over 1000 UAV flights at exactly 200m and saw a few times cropdusters (or rather mosquitodusters) coming below so I can judge that altitude. It is not unreasonable to imagine medevac helo coming lower in disaser zone just before landing what might be 1km away.

If you are that amazed of the technology we use regularly in Eastern Europe, come visit us. It is spectacular to see.

It was a two part question.  Under 400 feet and over 240 km/h. 

If so, it really seems to me that the potential for collision with a small UAV is a very small increased risk compared to that which the pilot is already placing himself in.


T3
Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on November 27, 2013 at 7:29am

Yes, he should be flying low and slow in order to stay safe over plains 50km wide like in Poland, Holland, Texas, wherever. Particularly in disaster zone transporting injured victim. EC135 has 230km/h economical speed and there is nothing wrong flying at 400ft AGl for the last 2 kilometers before touchdown. At the same time you can descend you UAV some 50m what amounts for maybe 150ft since the moment you can itdentify there is a danger of collision. I am telling you what I have withenssed durign real life so please stop arguing abour 25% of the value, because those numbers don't stick together: it is vasry hard to avoid fast flying silent medevac helicopter with fenestron style tail rotor with typical UAV that has some 15m/s cruise speed and 5m/s descent rate, this is the reality. The only solution appears to get very low immediately you hear a helicopter near you before you start thinking the direction it is flying. This simple solution, however, limits operation nears cities and pracically makes it impossible in danger zone unless there is contact with ATC, NOTAMS etc.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 27, 2013 at 7:48am

So who's controlling the geese?

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 30, 2013 at 8:26am

Just ran across this.

Great example of the cowboy attitude of some pilots.  Let's assume that the pilot would have no way of knowing there was a tow-line being used.  Does it make sense that an airplane pilot would think that flying that close to a parachute was safe?  

This type of thing is why I agree that integrating UAV's into the airspace is a problem.  But it's not always the UAV's fault.

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