RCAPA Reporter - Important information, breaking news, and legislative actions....

Lots is going on at the RCAPA Reporter regarding both the Hobbiest as well as the Professional UAS AP community. Visit and see the latest reports from the UAS2008 meetings in Paris, or the AUVSI meetings in San Diego where Patrick Egan and Ira Buckley are in attendance, both representing RCAPA, its members, and the UAS AP community at large. The RCAPA Reporter is free, available to anyone with an interest in the news and information, and requires NO membership to visit and view its contents. Things change daily, news is released when received, and your comments, questions, and suggestions are ALWAYS welcomed there via the various feedback areas or email links. Check it out TODAY!!!!

Joe Bennett
Editor in Chief - RCAPA Reporter

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suggestion #1:
represent autonomous interests .
That would be terrific...but I don't see that happening.

A lobby like RCAPA is looking to find favour in Washington, and the autonomous aspect of our hobby worries a few people right now.
Be that as it may, there are very few "lobby" groups that can tackle EVERY issue out there and be effective on ALL of the issues at the same time. Often, battles must be chosen that can lead to present and possibly future gains rather than to try to win it all at one time. I think the RCAPA has tried to select the battles that will gain the most for the largest number of people in the AP community, hobbiest or professional. Others may not see it that way, but often that is due to their own personal affiliation to one or another of the "less than fully" represented segments of the community. Progress is being made via the attendance at the ARC meeting, the UAS2008, the AUVSI, and numerous previous meetings that RCAPA has attended and participated in. The exposure alone has given the UAS AP community much more credibility that we have ever had previously. Look for more good things to happen, and possibly other battles to be joined in the future....


Why was this discussion closed, and why were comments deleted from it? I was only responding to others comments, and my comments were nothing but helpful in the context of the discussion. Why does it seem that ANYTHING that relates to RCAPA is receiving censorship? This is not the American way Chris, and reflects poorly on this group when it occurs here. Please do feel free to contact me directly if you wish, but also consider how closing a discussion thread appears to all others as well. Thanks....

Joe Bennett
Editor in Chief - RCAPA Reporter

First of all the comments are not closed in this thread (although they may be if the tone continues to decline into acrimony).

Second, although I didn't delete any of the comments, one of my co-moderators did because an individual was personally attacked and their personal RCAPA details (and member number) were disclosed, which is very bad behavior. The person who posted those details will be warned about this.

Third, I'd like to see discussions about policy and regulation take an altogether more civil tone here. Intelligent people can disagree on these issues, and we all come from different perspectives. The only thing I insist on here is everyone is respectful and tolerant of those different perspectives.


PLEASE show me where any of my posts have been anything but civil and informative. The members RCAPA number is a matter of public record, and as such can be viewed by anyone who wishes to view it. No other RCAPA members details were posted here. I posted it so that the member, as well as others would be able to take my next comments regarding the availability of information in the context of the conversation better. Please do warn those who have chosen to be uncivil in their comments, but allowing a moderator to censor and delete posts without any real cause does not show proper moderation of the group. I have posted here little in the past for these very reasons shown in the last few hours. There is a definite lack of tolerance here towards anything that smacks of RCAPA, and it has been even more evident in this discussion thread. RCAPA is doing much to help the UAS AP community, with little support from some factions that just do not understand exactly what is going on. That was the thrust of my original posting here today, to help bring some of the most current information to those who might wish to see it unfiltered. As a further point of interest, this discussion WAS closed by the moderator, and was reopened by me as it was an option in the list of commands. Thanks, and I look forward to your comments and observations regarding this Chris. I am ALWAYS happy to assist and help out my fellow UAS AP associates in any way I can....

Joe Bennett
Editor in Chief - RCAPA Reporter
There are a few things I would like cleared up.....

Item 8 of the RCAPA guidelines off of their website:


"8. Full autonomous fights are NOT allowed during any RCAPA operations"

What is "Full autonomous"? Does the RCAPA support autonomous flight yes or no?

If the RCAPA does not support autonomous flight then why does it have a seat on the sAUS Arc Committee (worried that your users will bump into a low level UAV?) and why does do your reps feel the need to promote the RCAPA activities in this forum if they cannot say they support autonomous flight?

If it does support autonomous flight why not say so openly and what exactly are the policies and guidelines will the RCAPA be putting forward at the sAUS ARC?

In response to you request let me again state that I am not the person whom you might wish to address this to as it is out of my area of responsibility. That being said, let me post the "General" section of the RCAPA Guidelines in its entirety.


All RCAPA members shall abide by the following:

1. Be aware of and abide by FAA regulations, NOTAM's, and TFR's
2. Manned aircraft have right-of-way at all times
3. Avoid flight over persons or property
4. Do not fly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
5. Aircraft shall remain in line of sight at all times
6. Optical systems use by pilot is allowed if a designated spotter is used
7. Aircraft stability devices and GPS failsafe returns are allowed
8. Full autonomous fights are NOT allowed during any RCAPA operations
9. Have a clear understanding of the FAA regulations applicable to the airspace used
10.Flight operation will not be undertaken unless the aircraft is airworthy

You ask specifically about #8. As it states "Full autonomous flights are NOT allowed during any RCAPA operations". What I interpret this to mean is that if one is engaged in actually flying a commercial aerial photographic flight, then it is not permitted to fly it without the Pilot in Charge being in direct, visual control of the aircraft. This would seem to be supported by both #5 & #6 as well. This is not to say that Full Autonomous flight is NEVER allowed, but only during an RCAPA related flight. This is a definite safety related restriction, and should be clear enough in the context it is written in. Your assumption that RCAPA does not support fully autonomous flight is really not supported by anything in the Guidelines. My thoughts are that while the current representation does not directly address fully autonomous flight specifically, the door has not been slammed for future presentation or representation somewhere down the line. RCAPA was selected to have a seat on the ARC due to its diligent lobbying efforts to actually get something done via contact with the FAA as well as numerous Congress persons over the last 4 years or so. While these efforts have not always been visible, they have been ongoing and have brought RCAPA to the notice of those who both set policy as well as those who fund it. I posted the RCAPA Reporter link and mentioned the news and info available as a service to ALL UAS AP people who might want to see what is happening at the last ARC, as well as the current UAS2008 and AUVSI meetings too. As for that information, visit the RCAPA Reporter and see what is happening for yourself. Hope this helps clarify some of the things you have asked about. Please remember too that RCAPA has nothing to hide regarding policy or guidelines, but some of the meetings do place restrictions on what can be released at any given time. Just as soon as we are allowed to pass it on you can rest assured that information will be made available at the RCAPA Reporter....

Joe Bennett
Editor in Chief - RCAPA Reporter
So if your members are flying a commercial photographic flight no autopilot but if they are flying a non commercial photo flight then its a maybe on autopilot?

I think the lines are been drawn here regarding autonomous use and the RCAPA is sitting on the fence.

Regarding what is happening at the ARC lets see...lots of talking....this will take more then 9 months...

There are definite safety issues involved, and the state of the art electronics used are still very much experimental at this time. I don't see the RCAPA as sitting on any fence, not with the amount of time and money that has been spent to represent as large a portion of the UAS AP community as it possibly can. Read the Guidelines again Condor. It clearly states that the use of Aircraft stability devices and GPS failsafe returns are allowed. Also, I take it that you are not currently an RCAPA member, so no matter what the Guidelines might state, you would not be under any obligation to adhere to them anyway. Taken as a whole, the Guidelines appear to allow for most any type of flight operations unless it involves commercial flights, and then safety continues to be the primary concern. So where is the problem here? As far as the ARC is concerned, unless you were sitting in on the meetings during the last gathering, you really have no knowledge of what that process entailed and what was actually discussed. I still await Patrick Egans return from the UAS2008 meetings in Paris for a more detailed synopsis of the first ARC meetings. RCAPA is not drawing any lines, those are imaginary constructs that some people just insist they see, but that actually don't exist....

Joe Bennett
Editor in Chief - RCAPA Reporter
Condor, I will try to answer your questions.

RCAPA guidelines were made by the members a few years ago. The #8 rule is similar to the DIYDrones FAQ that states:
" 2) Maintain a "pilot in control", which is to say that you must always be able to take manual control and fly the aircraft out of danger (in general, that means maintaining line-of-sight contact with the aircraft)."

The RCAPA "Full Autonomous" definition has not been fully defined but the intent at the time is we did not feel it was a safe practice to program up a plane and set it loose to fly it's program with no human intervention. Hence the term "Full Autonomous". Making your own UAV is nothing new, just more mainstream and off the shelf now. Back then (2004?) Several RCAPA members had planes with autonomous capibilities, myself included, and needed some safety guidlines for people to refer to.

IMO, there are several valid reasons that RCAPA is on the ARC. Starting off with the FAA's common use of the term UAV, the A stands for AERIAL, not autonomous. I realize @ DIYDrones, the "A" stands for autonomous, but FAA does not care if it is autonomous, only that it is aerial and could affect the safety of the NAS. RCAPA "type" users/operations also represent the highest number of "Commercial UAV" flying in the United States. Hundreds of modeler types have been charging for AP for many years. FAA has specified that a model aircraft used in a commercial operation is a UAV ( "A" being aerial).
I use the term UAV cause you did, FAA proper term is UAS or SUAS for the smaller systems. UAS stands for Unmanned AERIAL System, not autonomous.

RCAPA has also been in many FAA and RTCA meetings on this topic and has tried for exepmtions, come up with guidelines, basic testing and certification programs, interm proposals, and has been in contact with many different FED on many levels. All trying to keep FAA off our back. Like DIY UAV's, this regulatory stuff is not brand new, but has history and maturity. RCAPA and others like myself have been "breaking trail" for a few years now.

That being said, I don't believe RCAPA is in the ARC pushing for DIY Drones autonomous UAV fun. Their primary interest IMO is Remote Controlled Aerial Photography (RCAPA) and being able to do it with minimal FAA regulations, for profit, and for the good of all mankind.

I try to offer an objective point of view. If you wish to discuss further, my number is on my website.
I have my own thoughts on the "full autonomous" flight. I would define that as performing the entire flight, including the takeoff and landing, under control of the autopilot. I don't have a problem though with doing an rc takeoff and climb to altitude, followed by engaging an autopilot to fly a set course, followed by an rc landing. I also include in this definition that the aircraft remain LOS at all times, and the the person holding the rc transmitter have the ability to switch back to his or her full control at any point in the flight. Whether photographs are taken while in the autonomous mode does not have any bearing in my view. Where all of this comes from is my own intentions when stumbling into this site. I wanted to do aerial photography from an rc airframe, but wanted the short portion of the flight where the photos were taken to be done in a preplanned flight path. Many of the autopilots on the market now have this ability, where you use satellite imagery to mark a flight path around a specific set of points. I realize some will argue with my definition, but this was the premise I had in mind at the start.

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