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ADVISORY: City of LA Classifies Heliports as Airports.

Discussion in 'News' started by Joola, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. Joola

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    L.A. city attorney files first criminal charges under new drone ordinance

    Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog: Misdemeanor Criminal Charges Arise Out of Drone Use In Downtown Los Angeles

    The articles cite two individuals who have been charged with crimes for unlawful operations in LA. The younger individual was charged for flying within 3mi of a hospital heliport. The charges claim this as a violation of the new LA drone ordinance which prohibits flying within 5mi of an airport without authorization from the tower. The prior assumption on this forum was that heliports were excluded from this (as this would essentially make all of LA a no fly zone).

    My understanding is that the FAA has jurisdiction over where we can fly and local authorities only have jurisdiction to determine where we can take off from or land. I hope these individuals are able to fight the charge and establish a precedent for future pilots. Would be interesting for the FAA to provide an interpretation.
     
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  2. kcobello

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    The box is getting smaller for us...:) My question, other than being close to a heliport or medvac type area, how can a local govt tell me, if I have all my permissions, where can I take off from?
     
  3. RaptorMan

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    Listen, you can fly in your house - what more do you want.

    I'm convinced the state and local governments would dearly love to have the Feds ban drones altogether, but until then they will constrict the places we can fly to an extent that it's a ban in effect.


    Brian
     
  4. Joola

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    This has been discussed in other threads so I'd rather not rehash it here too much but typically these types of restrictions would only exist on publicly held land.

    Here's a hypothetical example: There is an ordinance that makes it unlawful to operate a UASs from a public right of way, and makes it unlawful to land a UASs on a public right of way except in emergencies. You wouldn't be able to stand on a public sidewalk and fly from there, or land on one. Despite what the FAA says because it's not their jurisdiction. If you were on private property and had permission from the owner to fly from and land there, you would not have a problem and would not be violating the ordinance.
     
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  5. kcobello

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    That explains it Joola. Thanks
     
  6. Dr. Ifly Drones

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    Spot on. The FAA is currently fighting to assert that they control all airspace, from where objects on the ground end up to the verge of space... All of these local laws need to be taken with a grain of salt as they would probably fail in an appeals court. As Joola wisely points out, local systems can regulate the ground access but, ultimately it will be the FAA that has command over the air.
     
  7. MacDyver

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    Refit Ford F150s as rolling drone carrier/heliports charge $2.50 per takeoff/landing
     
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  8. ianwood

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    The City of LA does NOT classify heliports as airports. Where did you read that?

    There is no mention of heliports in FAA AC91-57a, CA bill 856, or LA Ordinance 183912. However, if you're foolish enough to fly within 1/4 mile from Hooper, you deserve to get cited. It is a very active heliport. Those two were likely cited with interfering with an aircraft which IS in the ordinance.

    5 miles from a heliport is absurd. Traffic out of Hooper is at altitude within a 1/2 mile and usually much less.

    And even though I wouldn't dismiss LA Ordinance 183912, it's legality is certainly up for question given that only the FAA can regulate the NAS: https://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/media/UAS_Fact_Sheet_Final.pdf
     
  9. Joola

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    The LA Times article I linked in my post stated that one of the individuals "was cited for flying a drone within three miles of several hospital heliports in Griffith Park." There is no mention that he interfered with any aircraft. The other individual who flew near Hooper did interfere with an LAPD helicopter on approach to land and deserved to be cited.

    Like you, I dispute the legality of the ordinance but I won't ignore the precedent that has been set by the LAPD and the City Attorney to prosecute the individual who did not interfere with air traffic but was cited for flying within 5 miles of a heliport. I hope he fights it, and I hope he wins.

    As a side note, have you looked at the FAA B4UFLY app? They classify heliports under the airport category. The How it Works sections says specifically,
    Also, this page on the FAA website seems to indicate that these facilities are in fact classified as types of airports. This in not intuitive to those who are not experienced in aviation. I'd love to have someone with more experience weigh-in.

    I know you're a big name in the LA drone scene so be safe and let us know if you run into any trouble with law enforcement.

    edit: typos
     
    #9 Joola, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  10. ianwood

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    The FAA makes a distinction between heliports and airports. They are not the same. Under the blanket COA as part of the 333 exemption, drone operations can be done 2NM from a heliport up to 200ft AGL. Under amateur use, there is SFA.

    I would be very interested to see the citation. If it identifies a heliport as an airport, I would think that ambiguity could be grounds for dismissal right there.

    But your point is still valid and herein lies the problem with local laws and local enforcement of airspace regulations.
     
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  11. Joola

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