French teenager in court for this video...

This worries me because I currently living in France and am nearing the completion of my first quadcopter. French laws are known to be difficult to navigate at best!

It raises an important question: What does the future hold for small UAV technology in Europe?

From the article here:

Nancy seen from the air” (Nancy vu du ciel) a stunning short film put together by 18-year-old Nans Thomas quickly racked up some 400,000 views in a matter of days after it was posted on the online video sharing site Vimeo.

The beautiful images of spires, churches and plazas of the historic north-eastern French town were captured in a unique way by attaching a go-pro camera to a drone.

At one point the video was reportedly even hosted on the social interactive site of the regional council of Lorraine

But unfortunately for the teenager the success also caught the eye of French civil aviation authorities, who ordered an investigation, TF1 TV reported. It turns out the teenager violated two key provisions of the law according to Nancy’s top prosecutor Thomas Pison.

First, drone operators in a France have to complete a training course similar to the ones pilots must take. Then, a drone flight over an urban area requires specific written approval. Unfortunately for Thomas, he had neither.

“I had no idea you needed permission (to fly it),” Thomas told French paper Est Republican. “Nobody gave me any indication that I needed any special permission when I bought it on the internet.”  

The first bad sign came when he got a letter from aviation authorities (Direction Regionale de l’Aviation Civile) which reminded him of the rules. 

On Monday things got worse. Thomas got a call from the police who wanted to talk to him as soon as possible about the drone flight and the resulting film. He went to police and left with a court summons on charges of “endangering the lives of others.”

Prosecutors didn’t think Thomas’s little stunt was too funny.

“If the aircraft crashed in a densely populated area, the consequences can be tragic,” prosecutors told Est Republican. “The use of drones also raises the question of respect of people’s privacy.”

Here is the video. It's too bad it was filmed illegally, because its pretty spectacular.

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  • NSA is watching you..

  • So, the moral of this story is, if you're going to post an airborne video, don't let on how, or that you did it and make the control freak state prosecutors earn their stripes by proving beyond reasonable doubt who and how it was done.

    Anonymity and secrecy is now the name of the game

  • Terrific video!  He got arrested, will do some jail time, pay a fine, then get out and get an awesome job offer leading to a high paying life long career!  Smart kid ;)

  • Moderator

    @lot you would realize that you are not allowed to fly over crowds of people if you had done the paperwork so the safety would be improved because you would not be doing the flight. His situation would be better if there was nobody in the shots, but of course there is.

    I doubt if they will be very hard on him but they mean to find videos of people breaking the rules now. I have been told there are at least 10 more cases in process. I know in several places if you admit you were in the wrong and take it on the chin they are softer. If you push the buttons on authority they will go after you harder. My money is on this young man coming away bruised but wiser, no doubt having a very successful legal company at the end of it. He has had ton's of free advertising already.

  • @lot,

    Funny isn't it?

    In terms of safety, I imagine part of going the paper route is getting insurance that will cover your operations. 

  • Still something that I don't understand.

    If we do the correct paperwork we can fly, but the security is the same with or without paperwork.

    So it's not a safety issue, it's burocracy.

  • Pretty bad situation for him considering these rules have just been put in place.

  • Moderator

    In France if you have the correct paperwork and therefore apply safe practice you can fly out to 100km. That's got to be cool in anybodies book. If you fail to comply and operate outside of the regulations companies that have made the effort have every right to call you in. That's how aviation authorities work, they don't have big policing departments they rely on tip offs.

    People need to realise that anything that can be controlled in three axis and sustain flight has been an aircraft for several years now. Some operating under model aircraft rules and some under unmanned aircraft rules. It does not matter if its the size of a flea or jumbo jet its a UA.

    The fine regime in France is a direct result of FPV flying that the French authorities saw and were not happy with. 

  • Beautiful video. However all it takes is a bad wire or failed solder joint to send a 3-5 pound chunk falling from hundreds off feet onto someone's head. Not worth the risk. I had one fall from the sky from about 300 feet and one of the arms was planted about 4 inches into hard soil. Don't fly over or near people!
  • Via the dictionary:

    "an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond line of sight"

    To the average joe, anything is a drone these days. Whenever I fly my quadcopter in my yard, my neighbor says "I see you're flying your drone out there!" He still says this despite the countless times I explained to him it's not anywhere close to the definition of a drone... 

    I think the video is brilliant! I kind of find "endangering the lives of others" to be bogus. While a quad can lock up and fall on someone, a car with failing brakes can just as easily plow pedestrians. Of course, it's not exactly as simple as that...

    “The use of drones also raises the question of respect of people’s privacy.”

    This seems like something said to piggyback off peoples fears to justify their actions. The video is shot in public. No privacy there. 

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