Yesterday I had the honor of attending a test flight at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May, New Jersey. The flight is part of a program run by Dr. Michael Chumer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology that is researching how to use data-collection sensors on UAS for homeland security and emergency management functions. While NJIT is part of the Virginia Tech Test site’s Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), a group of over 50 institutions, they independently sought and obtained a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA for this current program.
Today I wanted to write about UAS regulations in other countries, and recent news fit in perfectly with that plan. Puy du Fou, the second largest theme park in France, has announced that it will be including UAS in its nighttime Cinéscénie. I hadn’t heard about this place until today, but it already looks quite extravagant. Their webpage about the 3 kg “Neopter” says they are custom created to be waterproof and they can be choreographed together. The Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile Française (DGAC) has authorized Puy du Fou to fly the Neopters.
France is clearly more willing to allow UAS use than the United States, and they have set up a tiered system for the weight of the UAS along with the situation in which it is being used. Even small recreational users must take various safety precautions that are similar to the small UAS regulations proposed by UAS American Fund. As the weight and proximity to people increases, the users must take more action. For those who understand French, the regulations are here. I haven’t been able to find reliable English translations, so rather than go through line-by-line, please email me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to translate.
The theme in all of these countries is that small UAS are generally permitted with some limitations, but commercial use is possible without the difficult 333 Exemption process adhered to by the FAA. I’ve only summarized the requirements, but I hope this gives you a flavor of what other countries are doing – and why R&D is heading there.
Canada: They have a great site that is very user-friendly. There are two general exemptions, one for UAS less than 2 kg and one for those 2-25kg.
- Less than 2 kg user must:
- Not have consumed alcohol or be fatigued
- Familiarize himself with the relevant aeronautical information
- Perform a site survey
- Obtain liability insurance
- Be trained in the system
- Fly in Class G airspace only
- There are other various restrictions, similar to the Model Use Guidelines
- The 2-25 kg exemption is similar, but contains stricter requirements for pilot training and UAS system requirements
- Generally, UAS under 20 kg are exempt from most requirements with the caveats below. Above that weight, both the aircraft and pilot will need to be certified.
- No permissions or certifications are required if the UAS is (1) <20 kg, (2) not being used commercially, and (3) not being flown in a congested area.
- One cannot fly commercially without permission from Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
- Pilots are required to obtain an Operator’s Certificate – not as arduous as the US’s Private Pilot’s License for 333 Exemptions.
- Documentation must be filed in order to obtain permission to fly from CASA
- Could revoke Operator’s Certificate if fly without authorization from CASA
- Stay 30 meters away from people and avoid crowds
- Fly below 400 feet
- Stay within line-of-sight
- Do not operate within 5 miles of an airport
- Fines up to $8,500 (Australian) for violation
United Arab Emirates: I include this because of UAS flying near the airport in Dubai grounded air traffic for almost an hour yesterday. I couldn’t find the actual regulations, but the official news agency says that one must have permission from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in order to use a UAS in Dubai. There are also strict privacy laws that forbid the taking of another’s picture without their permission. So do your research before taking aerial photos in Dubai, or anywhere else for that matter.
Also note that in the European Union, a recent case from the Court of Justice of the European Union found that photographs constitute personal data. Under the EU Data Protection Directive, each country within the EU must pass laws protecting personal data. So even if one is operating a UAS in the GB or in France under the exemptions listed, taking photographs of people in public is still prohibited!
Hobbico announced a new UAV, the ORA, at CES 2015. It has a 1080p HD camera and a 7″ OLED touchscreen as part of the transceiver (which operates at 5.8 GHz for better reliability). The OLED will undoubtedly give the screen great readability regardless of the sun. The ORA has a return to home feature, programmable GPS waypoints, and even a parachute – according to the video below. It sounds like it has integrated performance and safety in one unit.
I have had my eye on the Parrot Bepop, but the Sky Controller is not on the market. I’ve also been looking at the Phantom 2 Vision +, but the price tag is high. By the way, all there of these UAVs are export controlled, so don’t plan to take it overseas with you.
It is an interesting name, and one report had it as the “Aura,” but best I can tell it is the ORA. Hobbico does not have the specs, release date, or price on their website but I’ll keep an eye on it. It is expected early this year.