Forbes Magazine has an update on the recently posted fireworks video, indicating that it may have been flown in violation of a Coast Guard established "safety zone."

"The video’s caption indicates that the flight took place in West Palm Beach, Florida.  If it was a large Fourth of July celebration, the Coast Guard likely established a safety zone....

"There’s no way to know when the video was taken, but most major fireworks demonstrations will have a Coast Guard established safety zone.  The punishment for violating a safety zone is a whopping $40,000 fine and for willful violations it is a Class D felony, punishable by at least 5, but no more than 10 years in prison!"

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  • If its a no fly zone then that's a bonus, no planes to hit him! :P It could have been done more safely but EVERYTHING can be done more safely.
  • I'm on the fence in this one.

    Normally I'm a safety zealot, and obviously the flight through the fireworks, and even more-so over the crowd broke a bunch of rules.

    But the reality of the situation is, I can't see how the flight through the fireworks could really be considered risky at all.  If the fireworks were being done properly, there was no people or property below.  The worst case in this event would seem to be that the quad got hit and fell.  The risk in this case would probably be much less than that from a errant shell.  If a quadcopter falls in the water and nobody is there to see it, does it really make a splash?

    The only real issue I could see is if the quad for any reason crashed and landed in the fireworks launching area, and somehow started a fire.  But again, if this was all being properly, I can't see how it could do more than set off a single shell before it was intended?  They should be spaced out in a sandy area such that one shell-misfiring could not set off the other shells?

  • I agree with Ben in both of his last statements. 

    It is funny how the government is allowing the private space flights without too much regulation to allow the development of a new industry. But inn the case of this technology with many useful application is seems to me is over regulated. That is not what we need right know in this economy, put roadblocks to free enterprise. 

  • Moderator

    @Ben he transited across the crowd and has cut that part I have a copy of it. He still does not have the right to fly in controlled airspace. If you tried that in the UK and were caught without permissions you would be charged. The difference is you can obtain permissions after stating your safety case in the UK. You would still not be allowed directly above the crowd. You cannot obtain permission to fly an RPAS at an event in the USA.

    I see that Time and CNN have picked the story up so the FAA will know. Its also not the first time somebody has flown in fireworks by a long shot.

    The organisers of the event and the commercial operator they use should be coming under more fire for their video IMHO as that was flown very much with commercial intent by a chap being paid by the event.

    Watch this space, the FAA have won the case against the Phantom guy in NYC even if it was only for either or 2200 or as rumours have it settled for 200. My money is on the FAA saying their fine regime is too forgiving and they will bump it up into the French sort of money.Perhaps they are restricted over there to the maximum they can fine somebody.

    I am not sure the Forbes guy is right about prison, he would be if it was France there its a $100,000 fine or one year in prison. They have not handed down that hard a sentence yet but have to my knowledge fined about 10 folks so far. Small fines but a criminal record.

    For the upcoming small rule making NPRM not the model aeroplane FPV nonsense that everyone is so wound up about and is just a side show for the big event, the FAA will have plenty of videos like these to demonstrate why it is a good idea to only allow sUAS within controlled environments. 

  • The first video flight through fireworks probably put the quad itself at risk more than anyone in the surrounding area. Fireworks launches typically have a restricted access zone. Perhaps a freak accident where the quad crashes into the fireworks launch area and starts a fire ? This does not justify flight in a restricted zone, if one actually existed. Obviously the proper process would to get clearance from the show organizer. That said, it was truly beautiful video.

    The second video of flights over crowds is a clear example of irresponsible flying. Without redundant safety systems any failure of the flight critical systems would result in dropping into a crowd of people. After a few cases of injury in circumstances like this, we can expect tighter regulation, lawsuits, bad publicity and more crazy people attacking the pilots.

    Unfortunately, now that you can go to the store and buy an RTF "drone", and launch it without weeks of flight practice, this is inevitable.
  • @Gary It wasn't above a crowd, it was above the water.  Otherwise the fireworks would be falling on the crowd too.

    @Timothy why are you trying to cause trouble where this has gone completely without incident? We should encourage others in our hobby to fly responsibly but you seem to just be giving ammunition to those that want to block it altogether.

  • Aren't safety zones for humans? Just thought I would point out the obvious.

    The article's author thinks the drone is covered by the mention of object, see "No person may bring or cause to be brought into a safety zone any vehicle, vessel, or object unless authorized by the COTP or the District Commander;" 

    I haven't been able to find a safety zone designation for May 4th so maybe there wasn't one.

  • Aren't safety zones for humans? Just thought I would point out the obvious.

  • I just called the Coast Guard and told them about the Forbes article. They were totally unaware of this and seem to be taking it seriously.

  • I contacted the FAA about the two different UAV flights. The investigator I talked to on the phone had me write an email to someone who will assign someone to investigate. 

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