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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  • I have never understood why it's 'Drone' either!?
  • What qualifies aircraft to be classified as drone ? 

    Is it possible that remote controlled toy that have GPS ASSISTED capabilities  not GPS navigation can be classified as drone ? If he was maintaining line of sight at all times ( and it seems that he did ) than this is simple remote controlled toy with amateur camera that have spectacular footage. If they want to punish him than its misdemeanor. But If they want to set and example than its WMD and they should crucified him.

    I personally think that we are making mistake by calling our toys drones, since they are not. And we all know what is the first reaction when someone hear word drone. On the other hand flying in crowded places like this town square is simply reckless and stupid. Unfortunately we will be forced to use more than common sense in following years.

  • This is a truly beautiful video.

    It is a terrible shame that it's greatest fame is going to come from the prosecution / persecution of the film maker.

    Especially since in the very near future this could be exactly as it was here with virtually no physical hazard to any one or any property.

    Currently a multicopter weighing anything from 5 to 20 pounds is used to do this sort of thing and if they fall on your head injury or death can result.

    But the coming reality is that with advances in electronics and cameras, we are very near to the point where you can make a 7 or 8 ounce quadcopter that can do all of this,.

    And you can make a 7 or 8 ounce quadcopter in such a way that it won't hurt you even if it falls on your head.

    The laws, regulations and public perception need to support small, light, low terminal velocity "drones" as a reasonable direction because this is what can let us truly benefit from this wonderful technology without endangering others.

    Otherwise all we will get are unnecessary and Draconian laws aimed at simply stamping it out.

  • Moderator

    The laws were coming all through last year, put in place during October and sort of re announced in January so it cannot be a surprise. If you drop a ton of money on a platform you should be doing due diligence on what the rules are. It was a nice video.

    Not only youngsters can fall foul of regs when they change. In 2010 Merseyside Police in the UK were very quick to tout an arrest using a quad. They had not noticed the rules for operation had changed on Jan 1st 2010 so found themselves in trouble with the CAA.

    They later lost the quad in the Mersey.

  • This guy is the next Hollywood film director, great footage and composition. I must admit i am not comfortable with him flying over peoples heads, especially when he was so high, but given that it was a great advert for the tourist industry :-)

  • I certainly hope the 'youth' was doing it for a school project.

    It was A+ high marks from the composition and art perspective. I especially enjoyed the juxtaposition of the young man on the skateboard to contrast the established 'old' beauty of the city. One message could be 'The Old sits in place, The New is moving'. Like the videographer, the young skater was blissfully ignorant and was simply enjoying the day.

    For the videographer, ignorance of the law is no excuse and the authorities will process him simply because they must now that they are aware of the infractions.

    Wow. I got to use the word 'videographer' twice in on post!


  • Moderator

    Its very simple, there are great rules in France now, you can fly out to 100km if you have the right bits of paper. The fines and rules were in direct response to some high profile FPV that took place a couple of years ago. 

    Don't fly in town or commercially without a licence and you will be fine, there was the other case two weeks ago of the French Legionnaire who flew around the Eiffel Tower and was arrested and had his day in courst. he got away with a 500 Euro fine I expect because he was due back on duty. 

    I doubt the lad will get the full 75K euro or one year in jail fine though.

    The future in Europe for RPAS is fantastic years and years ahead of the USA.

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