I'm trying to:


1. Find the bill that Obama signed into law on Tuesday

2. Decipher the BS contained in the new law (there is sure to be some) and see what it says.


This may (or may not) be the bill in question:




This is specifically the language in the bill (whether or not my link above is the correct bill) that I'm looking to read over and study:


  • Requiring expedited access for public users, such as law enforcement, firefighters, emergency responders
  • Allowing first responders to fly very small UAS (4.4lbs or less) within 90 days if they meet certain requirements. The goal is to get law enforcement and firefighters immediate access to start flying small systems to save lives and increase public safety. Although 4.4lbs doesn’t sound like a lot, there are numerous platforms available that meet this requirement.
  • Requiring the FAA to study UAS human factors and causes of accidents


Reason:  Under certain legal stipulations, and depending on contractual agreements, my company qualifies to provide services as a 'First Responder.'


James Pollock

Bulldog Investigations & Security



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#1 - All the versions are here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h658/show

#2 - As for making sense of it, I'm afraid you'll need to 1) read it and 2) wait to see what the FAA does with it. I don't think there is a lot of "BS", per se, but a lot of the meat you might be after is not so much defined as it is put forward that certain things will be studied and defined. 

(Sec. 607)

Authorizes the FAA Administrator to: 
(1) arrange with the NAS to assess unmanned aircraft systems; and 
(2) establish three two-year cost-shared pilot projects in sparsely populated, low-density Class G air traffic airspace new test sites to conduct developmental work and service testing to improve unmanned aircraft for safe integration into the National Airspace System. Authorizes appropriations for FY2010-FY2011. Directs the FAA Administrator to make available on the FAA's website a five-year "roadmap" for introduction of unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System. Prohibits the FAA Administrator from promulgating rules or regulations on model aircraft flown strictly for recreational, sport, competition, or academic purposes, and meeting certain other criteria. 

My interpretation is that the UAS pilots who do this for recreation or sport are in the clear from FAA-imposed regulations...for now.  For the "other criteria," I hope they take into consideration low-level, close range aerial photography or geo-mapping for businesses.  I definitely don't want to have to get ground clearance for snapping pictures for a real estate agent.  I honestly can't see the FAA imposing regulations on flights below a certain altitude and within a certain range with small UAVs.  I could be wrong, I've seen crazier things the government has done.

I don't really get this bill. What does it change that already isn't true so far?

I think the end result of this is that the FAA is going to start making a lot of poorly thought out rules as fast as they can.  Congress gave them very little time to do things right and the FAA has a long history of making poor rules.

IMHO the FAA will require ADSB on all drones.  They've already said ADSB is going to be required on everything from ultralights to skydivers soon.

I'm working on a ground based ADSB system for drones.  If the FAA allows ground based ADSB transponders AND they only require reception of signals then it should be pretty easy (just some coding and a $90 receiver).  If they want ADSB out then it will be a fair bit harder.  If they want the transponder to actually be on the plane then I don't see any way to do it for a reasonable cost.  A 7 watt transponder on your UAV is going to take way too much power and be several thousands of dollars.

NOW would be the time for us to come up with an ADSB system.  Then convince the FAA that it's good enough and we don't need a $5k+ commercial transponder on every drone.

Check out microadsb.com for receiver schematics.


I think the key here, would be the size/weight of a drone, most of what's flying now  (hobby purposes)is less dangerous than a birdstrike.

After reading the draft of the bill, particularly the section in question (331), I still hold the opinion that the FAA will likely not require ADSB for flights of most any kind (including ultralights, models, and drones) in Class E or G airspace. 

What they are not anticipating is the proliferation of UAVs (perhaps an explosion) and the political impacts of placing onerous restrictions on this burgeoning industry.  That said, all it would take is some antithetical lobbying by the established paradigm organizations (or some upstart ADSB manufacturers) to prove me wrong.

Even now, while technically outlawed, commercial drone operations under 400 feet and not within 5 miles of an airport seem to get a pass.  If there have been any hobbyist encounters with FAA regulators, I've certainly not  heard of them. 

I think the FAA is going to listen to the big drone players who don't want $500 drones flying around when they're trying to sell $50k models.  They're probably also the only interested parties "helping" the FAA make it's rules.

ADSB is going to be on everything IMHO.  It's a simple system who's time is LONG overdue.  It also seems like a good way to keep everyone but "legit" players out of the game and still satisfy the politicians that they're allowing innovation and civilian use. 

Thats exactly it Jake, people need to get behind RCAPA or form a group of their own otherwise they are going to get IMHO rules they deserve for not caring.

Remote Control Aerial Photography Association (just looked it up)

I think you're right.  Has there been no attempts to form an industry or trade association for drones?

Now would be the time to do this!  Once any rule gets made for your safety it's going to stick for good.  They never revise the rules to make things less "safe".

That's why I think more people should be working on ADSB.  As I pointed out, it would be easy and cheap to add an airborne or ground based ADSB receiver.  Then you can tell the FAA that your drone system will be able to "sense and avoid" ANY ADSB transponder equipped plane.  

That's the big issue and if you can show that it's properly solved everything should be gravy when the new rules come out.  If the system exists the FAA would probably allow it at least on a trial basis.  If nothing's ready they're just going to make up their own specs which will probably require a $10k airborne transponder.

With just a simple ADSB in you can guarantee that you won't hit a commercial plane.  If two drones with only ADSB IN collide, oh well, at least no life was lost.

It also wouldn't be hard to get pseudo ADSB OUT either.  You could use a ground based transponder to transmit the planes GPS telemetry.  If you're in range of an airport or relay station it will rebroadcast the signal.  Alternately you could feed the data over the internet (or cellphone modem) to the airport or relay station which could then broadcast your ADSB signal for all planes in the area to hear.

Almost all of this is mostly already in place.  I'm working on an ADSB receiver design, but I'm not a RF engineer, nor do I manufacture boards.  If the resources of diydrones worked on it we would have a system in no time at all.

Even if the FAA wasn't in the picture at all I would think people would be willing to spend the $50-75 just for liability reasons.  Prove you did your best to avoid disaster using the latest tech and you take away the negligence which would take away the criminal aspect and limit any chances of punitive damages being awarded.

There's a big difference between criminal (reckless disregard for public safety), punitive damages (big bucks to punish you and keep you from doing it again), and simple liability (pay for what you damaged).

ADSB is already linked over the internet and you can watch planes on virtual radar all over the globe.  Since we can't afford real radar virtual radar is the way to go, maybe even better.


There are small, low cost ADS-B systems being developed. I'm unsure where these stand in commercial availability.


I too suspect it will be crucial in any solution implementation under the FAA Mandate for medium to large UAS. I'm curious if there is any sense of a formal demarcation line between the medium and small UAS with regard to requiring ADS-B. It would only stand to reason. I suspect the idea that "everything from ultra-lights to skydivers" is a slight exaggeration.


For “Now What”… as far as any immediate changes (or clarification) I agree with Hunter Parris. It appears that UAS for recreation or sport are permitted so long as you abide by community standards and regulations. I would guess that refers to Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).

Looks like hype from a non-profit trying to look like they're doing important things.

That article was from 2008, and 4 years later they've got nothing.  $200 my ass.

I'm not exactly sure what this is or what it's capabilities are, but it appears to be a small, low cost ADS-B receiver. (note: receiver only)


My guess is that there is ground effect between the manufacturers such as Garmin, the aviation community, and the FAA. The manufacturers are not going to make a product that the community won't purchase, the FAA would probably like to see ADS-B, but the aviation community keeps pushing back over concerns of cost and convenience. Once that is overcome, I suspect making these devices is trivial and they will be as prevalent as automobile nav systems.



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