Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Important information from RAILROAD.NET site administrators. Need help using this site? Check here first! Your question may already have been answered here.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Ken W2KB » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:56 pm

Backshophoss wrote:The RR PD's are beginning to use drones as part of their security efforts,so here come the "run ins" with
railfan owned drones.
It's a matter of time untill a drone gets caught up in the Catenary of the NEC,MN or NJT with some form of
unwanted results. :(


Railroads need specific FAA authority to operate drones for any reason, including security. Some railroads have applied, so far only BNSF, UP and KCS have received approval (my search used the letters "RAIL" so there could be others not using those letters in its name) and I specifically did a quick review of the FAA authorization for BNSF. Here are a few of the many limitations imposed by the FAA. The permission is limited to three specific models of drones, that are somewhere around the 10 to 15 pound weight class. Drones can only be operated only over BNSF property to an altitude not to exceed 400 feet, and air traffic control/airport operator coordination/communication is required within 5 miles of all airports. Drones must be kept within clear visual range of a ground based observer at all times. The operator of the drone must hold at a minimum a private pilot's certificate (license) with current medical certificate. As an example here is the specific language as to the pilot in command (PIC) requirement: "16) The PIC must possess at least a private pilot certificate and a third-class airman medical certificate. The PIC must also meet the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR § 61.56 in an aircraft in which the PIC is rated on his or her pilot certificate."

The FAA is understandably behind in the review of several thousand applications for commercial drone approval so there may be other railroad applicants.

Non-commercial hobby use (no money or other compensation paid, including compensation by publishers for use of photos, not associated with employment, business, etc.) drone operators, except for very tiny ones and indoor use only, recently need to follow new FAA on-line registration and on-line training completion for legal use. The 400 foot maximum altitude, keep in clear visual range, prior communication/coordination with airports within 5 miles of all (except indoor) drone flights, not flying within temporary flight restrictions within specifically specified several to 30 miles of emergencies, presidential visits, etc. also is required. Note that all airports, including those without any tower or air traffic control facility on the property, are included within the 5 mile restriction. So for, example, if a drone operator wished to operate a drone at any altitude in Hoffman Park in Hunterdon County, NJ adjacent to the NS Lehigh Line, or near the Line's tunnel in West Portal near I-78, those locations are within 5 miles of Alexandria Field Airport and the FAA requires contacting the airport fixed base operator prior to drone flight. There have been many near misses reported between manned aircraft of all types and sized and drones in the last couple of years, resulting in a serious safety concern.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
User avatar
Ken W2KB
 
Posts: 5651
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:27 pm
Location: Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey & Tiverton, RI USA

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Travelsonic » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:52 am

BandA wrote:Shoot a net or a bag around the railfan's drone.


Honestly, I am kinda getting tired of seeing people advocate acts that could result in not just destruction of property, but potential harm (not to mention damage to other things) from the resulting drone now falling from the sky, as well as the murky waters you'd be treading concerning whether or not the act would land you in hot water with the FAA.
Travelsonic
 
Posts: 332
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:46 am

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 3:12 pm

It is important not to break the law while enforcing the law.

There seems to be arrogance on both sides - both drone owners who feel that they can fly any where and any time they feel like (come and get me attitude) as well as those who advocate "extreme" measures for removing a drone from the sky. (Firing a gun into the air without regard for where the bullet will fall is not safe behavior.)

It would be best to leave enforcement activities to law enforcement (working under guidelines published by the FAA) and the FAA. It is their responsibility.
User avatar
justalurker66
 
Posts: 2086
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby JackRussell » Sat Jun 04, 2016 4:46 pm

The main thing I would like to photograph from a drone (if I could) is the progress with the WMATA Silver Line extension. And the most interesting bits right now are near Dulles Airport. So "no drone for you".
JackRussell
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Northern Virginia

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:51 pm

JackRussell wrote:The main thing I would like to photograph from a drone (if I could) is the progress with the WMATA Silver Line extension. And the most interesting bits right now are near Dulles Airport. So "no drone for you".


DC is special ...
https://www.faa.gov/uas/no_drone_zone/dc/

The FAA has released an APP to help identify "no drone zones" including temporary restrictions:
https://www.faa.gov/uas/b4ufly/
User avatar
justalurker66
 
Posts: 2086
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby RussNelson » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:22 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Griefus, those things ain't cheap

The good ones aren't cheap, and the cheap ones aren't good. The biggest problem with the cheap ones is that they use a streaming CCD. If your camera (drone) moves mid-frame (which of course it's going to do), the rest of that frame won't match the beginning of it. So the video is very jumpy. A good one will use a camera whose CCD takes a snapshot and then streams it down.
User avatar
RussNelson
 
Posts: 3786
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:20 am
Location: Potsdam, NY

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby RussNelson » Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:35 pm

justalurker66 wrote:"It seems the larger threat to human life comes not from the blades of the drone, but from the potential force generated by a 25-pound to 50-pound drone dropping from the sky and smashing your skull."
http://www.informationweek.com/it-life/ ... id/1321516


That's crazy talk. Nobody is flying 25 pound drones. Nobody. A DJI Phantom 4 weighs 3 pounds.
User avatar
RussNelson
 
Posts: 3786
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:20 am
Location: Potsdam, NY

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby glugglug » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:33 am

justalurker66 wrote:"It seems the larger threat to human life comes not from the blades of the drone, but from the potential force generated by a 25-pound to 50-pound drone dropping from the sky and smashing your skull."
http://www.informationweek.com/it-life/ ... id/1321516


A 25 pound drone is something that would be operated by a government, not a hobbyist.

The ones you can buy on Amazon or the like are more likely to be 25 grams.
glugglug
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:58 pm

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Travelsonic » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:01 am

5 hundredths of a pound? That seems awfully light, doesn't it?
Travelsonic
 
Posts: 332
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:46 am

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:05 am

25÷1000 × 2.2 x 16=.88 (not even an ounce)

Why there was so much resistance to going metric during the later '70's escapes me.
Gilbert B Norman
 
Posts: 12899
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Aurora Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby MEC407 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:36 am

They do come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from cameraless toys about the size of a Matchbox car (weighing maybe one or two ounces), to slightly larger toys that have crude cameras and weighing half a pound, to the higher quality camera drones like the DJI Phantoms which, depending on model, can also weigh less than a pound (I'm looking at the Phantom 3 right now and the site says it weighs 13 ounces). Now if you go up to the really high-end professional camera platforms which are designed to carry multiple DSLRs, some of those have a payload capacity of up to 20 pounds, putting the total weight fully loaded at 25 or 30 pounds... but those things cost $20,000 and that price doesn't include the DSLRs and all the other accessories you'd need. I can't see a lot of railfans shelling out that kind of coin just to take overhead pics of Horseshoe Curve or Larry's Truck & Electric.
MEC407
Moderator:
Pan Am Railways — Boston & Maine/Maine Central — Delaware & Hudson
Central Maine & Quebec/Montreal, Maine & Atlantic/Bangor & Aroostook
Providence & Worcester — New England — GE Locomotives
User avatar
MEC407
 
Posts: 10688
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:15 pm

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:44 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:25÷1000 × 2.2 x 16=.88 (not even an ounce)

Why there was so much resistance to going metric during the later '70's escapes me.


The FAA in its frequently asked questions on the new drone registration requirement for hobby use chose to use both to avoid the confusion and math. ;-) Note the weight includes not only the drone, but also all cargo and attachments.

"A. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must register using this new system"
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
User avatar
Ken W2KB
 
Posts: 5651
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:27 pm
Location: Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey & Tiverton, RI USA

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:09 pm

Ken W2KB wrote:"A. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must register using this new system"


And anything 55 pounds or heavier must be registered via paper forms as an aircraft with a visible tail number.

One also must remember that the rules were written with more in mind than simple aerial photography. Drones exist for more than railfans and sightseers.
User avatar
justalurker66
 
Posts: 2086
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby abaduck » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:46 pm

Just a couple of points and updates...

1. I'm a pro cinematographer. The kind of rig I typically use will weigh over 25lb. As for cost... figure $40k for the digital cinema camera... quite possibly another $40k for a cinema-quality lens... and $20k plus for the drone capable of carrying then. They're typically operated by a two-man crew; one to pilot the drone and one to operate the camera. So there is serious hardware around and in common use.

2. Everything just changed as of the new FAA regs a couple of days ago. Bottom line is that serious or professional drone pilots can and must get licensed as drone pilots by the FAA. Once that's done they can fly anywhere in accordance with the relevant FARs; unmanned aircraft are considered to be just that - unmanned aircraft - and have the same rights and privileges and responsibilities as aircraft with pilots on board. So any local or private property restrictions on drone operations will cease to apply to such licensed drone operators; you'll no more need someone's permission to fly over their property with a drone than you would with a manned aircraft. Which is exactly as it should be of course; there's one national airspace system and the FAA is - rightly - 100% in charge. If a local government or agency wants to close airspace in the event of - say - an emergency they have to go through the FAA and get it NOTAMed in the usual way.
http://www.corestore.org
'As I walk along these shores
I am the history within'
User avatar
abaduck
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:22 pm
Location: Mamaroneck NY

Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:38 am

abaduck wrote:you'll no more need someone's permission to fly over their property with a drone than you would with a manned aircraft.


If that were true you should check the rules for aircraft. There are restrictions on how low one can fly an aircraft over the ground with a higher altitudes required over populated areas. (Typically 500ft above the ground or structures and 1000ft above populated areas.) Being an aircraft does not allow one to fly any where any time.

The following quotes are from the FAA's summary of the new UAS rules (which will become effective in August):
"At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses."
"Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle."
"Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure."

One would need a waiver to violate any of the above restrictions.
Licensing will be required for pilots (or direct supervision by a licensed pilot).

The full rule is over 600 pages and can be downloaded from the FAA.
https://www.faa.gov/uas/

(The good news is that non-commercial use will still fall under the Model Aircraft rules. Commercial operators are the ones that need to worry the most about the new regulations.)
User avatar
justalurker66
 
Posts: 2086
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 11:20 pm

PreviousNext

Return to News, Announcements, FAQ and Help

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest