I fly FPV as do most of you Here at DIY Drones, and I will admit that I have flown at times without the use of a Spotter. Yes I know it’s a bad Idea to do so, however I also know I’m not alone. Lots of you do This I know I have seen The videos, But I don’t want to talk about this other than to raise the point that a spotter is not always available at times or necessary, If you are way out in the sticks, and under 400 feet no Biggie in my book. Others will I am sure disagree but that is a discussion for another Blog.
The big problem is that the requirement for a spotter comes from aviation law / rules / advisories that define a remote-controlled aircraft to be a vehicle flown via unaided visual contact. In order to meet this requirement, a spotter that has visual contact to the aircraft and possibility to take over control is needed. The visual line of sight rule comes from another section of aviation law, which dictates that people participating in the airspace must be able to "see and avoid" at all times.
My question or idea is why not have a Collision Avoidance System in conjunction with an autopilot?
It seems simple to me, and yes I know The FAA is not fond of autopilots on our aircraft, however we fly in a very artificial environment to say the least. And we use all manner of electronic devices to give us Air Speed, Altitude, Heading, and more, so why not add a collision avoidance system to what we currently use to help be that extra set of eyes we need. Add an auto pilot that could take control in the event of a loss of signal or other mishap, and it would make flying FPV a lot safer for all. No it won’t replace a human but it would help with”see and avoid”, even pilots of full size aircraft have trouble with this in crowded airspace which is why systems like these exists in the first place.
I recently went looking for a small affordable system and I found one, I am sure there are others.
The Zanon flight Systems PCAS MRX is a tiny system that is as small as the radar detector you might have in your Car, yet it can monitor your location, altitude, and heading, and will let you know if any other aircraft are in your area, that and many other features. Yes those other aircraft need to be broadcasting a transponder signal, however the FAA requires most all small aircraft to do so, except for ultra lights, para gliders, and the like, and I think they would like even them to do so. I would think this should be very valuable information to those of us flying FPV. Some of the units ability's are: Digital range, scalable from 5NM to 1NM, Relative altitude, scalable from ±2500 ft to ±500 ft, with ascending/descending indicator, A built-in altimeter for real-time accuracy, Displays the local squawk code and altitude, Audio alerts for threats and advisories. Not bad for its size and price, it sells for about $550.00. Until we can put a radar system on our planes and multi copters this might be the way to go. I think it should be possible to adapt this device, or one like it, to work with our OSD systems and auto pilots and give us that extra bit of real time safety that a spotter allows. The website for this device is here at http://www.zaon.aero/content/view/2/41/
Just food for thought I don’t have any Idea how hard it would be to add this to an OSD/ auto pilot, however I think our hobby is getting to the point where we will need something like this soon. And with all the talk about new regulations for drones coming soon I think it would make pilots of commercial and privet planes feel a lot safer to know we can see them and we are listening to FAA control and advisories for the airspace we are sharing with them. Please Let me know your thoughts about this idea, and thanks for your time reading my ramblings