It seems that the argument is between those who want to require a commercial pilots license and those who believe a private pilots license is sufficient for flying quadcopters.

"Enabling private pilots to work commercially would set a precedent, the inspectors wrote, boxing in the FAA while it developed a permanent set of drone regulations. They also noted that private pilots are twice as likely to be involved in fatal accidents as commercial pilots."

Story here.

Reported instances of headshaking, sighs, looks of general annoyance on the uptick.

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  • For a different perspective on UAV safety concerns, please take a look at the numerous blog posts at the Aviation Week Web site.

    Pilots are very concerned about the growing threat UAVs pose to air safety. There's no denying the logic in most of their blog posts.
    Is The Small-UAV Threat To Airliners Overrated?
    The danger of a hobbyist or troublemaker flying a small, light, remotely piloted aircraft into the path of a commercial aircraft may be overblown due…
  • I am using "operations" not certificates.  It does not matter if you use a commercial or ATP certificate for certain operations.  One could hold an ATP but it may or may not be necessary for the the operation being conducted.  Changing a medical does not change your pilot certificate level.  It changes the level of operations you would be allowed to perform.  The FAA breaks down accidents and incidents by operation not pilot certification.  They list pilot certification on every accident/incident as part of the report.  But that does not mean the operation was commercial in nature.  Commercial pilots/ATP rated pilots have a far higher accident rate when flying in a non commercial operation.  To become a commercial pilot requires just over 6 times the experience level required to gain a private certificate, to become an ATP requires 37.5 times the experience level, and the types of different experience required is further broken down by different types within those hours.  So just because you have 250 hours in airplanes does not mean you meet the aeronautical requirements to hold a commercial pilot certificate.  The written testing for commercial may be the same amount of questions, however they test a different level of understanding than that required for a private.  Its not just the pilot certificate level either.  Its the maintenance requirements, the different operating rules a commercial carrier has to operate under, and in many cases the certification level of the aircraft.  Most or probably the vast majority of commercial operations are conducted in part 25 aircraft not part 23 aircraft.  Part 25 aircraft are required to meet vastly more stringent testing requirements than part 23 aircraft.  Its a whole different system that makes commercially operated aviation safer than general or private aviation.  So to focus on just one issue like pilot knowledge or certification level is not seeing the whole picture.  No flying a phantom is in no way like flying an airliner, and the risks are completely different.  But that phantom has the potential to cause conflict in the airspace with manned aircraft, loss of life, and property damage just like a certified aircraft.  The FAA is charged with air safety, not ensuring operator profits.  And generally safety tends to equal costly changes, which hurt profits.  

  • Hal, your confusing Airline transport license with commercial license. There is little extra training, and nothing required annually, other then your medical. In fact, you can move down to private or up to commercial (once you have it), just by taking to different medicals. There is a few more questions on your ground test, and a few more procedures on your flight test. Air transport on the other hand, is highly regulated. As far as I know, this is the same US side.



  • It seems it all about whos getting paid at the end of it all. If its the end user "been you and i" (the pilots) then questions are asked. If the bloke sitting at a desk in his pressed suit and has never flown a RC aircraft in his live get paid there will be no question and rules get past. Put it like this the amount of vehicles on the road and bring massive multi billion pounds to the big wigs, you have a select few that bomb round speeding having crash and bump after bump. Does it come about "oh okay we have to ban cars" No! It doesnt. People that come out and say "its a privacy issue" they are more likly the ones with something to hide in the first place. That just because I have a UAV im spying on my neighbours? Why would spend ££££ just to see what they are doing when you could get a pole for pennies and a small key ring cam the look though there window? Again No its illegal so why would I do that with a UAV? "Getting off subject" When it makes the right people money thats when it will be left alone. If you havent got the common sense to fly a drone/UAV or copter dont fly same as you dont get to drive if you have no common sense to do that properly.
  • So answer me this.....We have drones with redundant autopilots with hundreds of hours of testing and performance data; machines that are computer modelled, computer simulated, computer flown..but the FAA says NO!

    Yet some fat bloke, in a red suit, that has no licence and no computers is able to fly all over the world above houses  and populated areas at what must be ridiculous speeds on an aircraft that is pulled by animals that were never meant to leave the ground....and no one says anything!!!

  • Hal you have left out all discussion of benefits. By holding back for years you will lose lives that could have been rescued using UAS (missing persons, fire response, inspections etc.) There is a question of balance here, cost and benefit, and that always includes risk. Why do we allow crop dusters at all? Extremely dangerous and high accident rates. If someone today proposed flying 20 feet above crops and under power lines I doubt FAA would allow it. We have accepted the risk because of the benefits.
  • What if that person flying the 3 pound copter over a house has no knowledge about what type of airspace they are operating in?  Happens to have a random issue whether it be a fly away, programming error, or dumb thumb.  That drone happens to hit a large aircraft right in an engine inlet.  I know really bad day, lots of remote probabilities lining up, but it could happen and probably will happen at some point.  That engine not designed to ingest those materials launches a few fan or compressor blades and happens to hit a fuel line, which happens to ignite the fuel which is atomized because of the pressure and airflow combination.  But because the cutoff for the fuel is located in the mount and not in the aircraft there is no way to stop the fire.  The aircraft continues to fly until loss of control and crashes into a densely populated area.  This is what the FAA is trying to prevent.  An accident like this cannot be allowed to happen.  How they get to that point I don't really know, and it is a very complex problem with many different stake holders who have competing interests.  The FAA is only concerned with safety of the operations.  Drones/UAV's do cause an increased safety risk under certain circumstances.  On one hand people complain the FAA is being archaic by the slow regulatory process.  After the first serious accident and loss of life people will complain they implemented and approved rules without enough data or understanding of the risks.  The UAV users are only one group of users of the airspace.  What happens when a crop duster flying at 50 feet hits a UAV flying over farmland?  Yes they are allowed to fly that low.  The other issue we as a UAV group have is we are defiant and non compliant.  Maybe not the people on this site, but it doesn't take long to do an internet search and see thousands of flights not in line with the regulations, or advisory circulars.  The FAA is a government agency.  If they think operators will not comply they will just regulate or stomp them out of existence.  They are not different than any other agency in dealing with non compliant or defiant operators whether it be fishermen, boats, trains, etc.  If we as a group do not decide to play the game as it is currently rigged or set, we will lose greatly.  Now is not the time to change the game, but to learn how to play it to get what we want out of it.  

  • Moderator

    @hal, more people have died at the hand of certified commercial pilots than at the hand of quadcopter pilots.  The point being: It makes sense for someone flying a 400 ton aircraft over a city, but not for someone flying a 3 pound aircraft over a house.

  • Moderator


    There are lot's of opinions, not all of them are in agreement with you, but most realize there is always more to the story.

    People get passionate when something they do is threatened by someone (or something) they feel doesn't understand the situation.

    I think most US residents on this site feel as though they are at the mercy of a system that will decide for them what they can and can't do with their aircraft, despite the fact they have themselves have operated their aircraft in a safe manner consistent with established community based guidelines.

    Personally I believe some regulation is necessary, however I think it lies somewhere in between Private Pilot Certification and no regulation.


    Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

  • I know people on this site don't want to hear it, but the heavier regulations on commercial carriers and pilots does lead to a safer operation.  

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