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Part 107 Asinine Airspace Authorization Rules

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jason1234, Aug 30, 2016.

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  1. Jason1234

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    Explain to me how the airspace authorization rules make any sense. A teenager can fly for fun inside controlled airspace by "notifying" the airport operator and tower. A licensed, tested, certificated commercial adult operator can't operate in the same space without submitting a lengthy web form with detailed explanation about how they will operate safely, and then wait 90+ days for a response from the FAA.

    This is totally upside-down an nonsensical.

    I see this as the biggest disappointment in the Part 107 rules.
     
  2. Figbar

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    I was under the impression...after countless hours of study...that Remote Pilots would have to receive clearance from ATC to fly in controlled airspace. How this really works is a mystery to me. I'm seeing that applying for a waiver requires 90 days, but nothing in the list of waivers describes receiving permission to fly in controlled airspace. If we have to wait 90 days to fly 4 miles from a Class C airport, this is totally bogus and unrealistic. I do video production for a lot of corporate clients in Class C airspace...I know some locations I will be asked to shoot will be within the inner circle of this airport...not really close, but still within the circle. Having to wait 90 days for an OK won't work with my clients. I'm really glad I have spent tons of money and countless hours of study to take my Remote Pilot exam tomorrow morning so I can get caught up in this mess. I'm absolutely sure all of us who are going through this 107 Remote Pilot certification process are really trying to do things the right way.
     
  3. Kurt

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    My recommendation would be to go ahead and apply for the waiver now and then have it for when you might need it in the future. They can be approved for up to 4 years.
     
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  4. Jason1234

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    Yeah, this part of the rule is totally unworkable. I can see myself submitting waiver requests for 50 locations on day 1. This will be an onerous process for me, and a huge workload on the FAA. It makes NO SENSE. How can it be easier to fly recreationally within controlled airspace?

    The whole point of Part 107 is to create a framework for safe and responsible pilots. This is just causing a regulatory noose around the neck of the very people who want to fly responsibly for economic and technical improvements.
     
  5. Jason1234

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    This is true, but only for a specified location, altitude, and purpose. You can't get a blanket waiver to, say, fly at least 2 miles from ### Class D airport at under XXX feet. It's sectored off, and each request will be evaluated based on location with respect to the traffic pattern. That means a human at the FAA will need to take the time to evaluate the request, make and document a decision, and send the result to the pilot.

    All the while, some 13 year old can just have Daddy call the tower and NOTIFY them his son is going to be playing around near the airport immediately.
     
  6. Figbar

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    In my world, this strategy is totally unrealistic. I get all kinds of requests to shoot a beauty shot of a corporate HQ, for example, to be used in a promotional video for that company. Normally, these folks work on fairly tight timelines...I could see having to wait a week or 2 to sort this out, but 90 days is ridiculous. I'm hoping that this procedure will become more realistic and work itself out.
     
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  7. Joet

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    Copied from my post at PhantomPilots:

    I just got off the phone with the FAA. YES, you do need to apply for a waiver to fly in controlled airspace, and yes, the official lead time is 90 days, although it might not take that long. They realize that this is not viable for many commercial operations and are examining options. They also understand that there is confusion, misinformation, and other hiccups attendant to these new regulations and they are working on them.

    To sum up: You cannot simply contact ATC like a manned aircraft, state your intentions, and fly through controlled airspace. You MUST apply for a waiver as mentioned above. Permission for a UAS to enter controlled airspace is being centrally coordinated, not locally coordinated, at this point.

    ...Adding to that post: I am positive that the FAA would have loved to prohibit/restrict hobby flight in controlled airspace, but they were prohibited by Congress to further regulate hobby flight back in 2012.
     
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  8. Jason1234

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    Yep, I'm sure they are working on a way to make this easier, but it's going to be too little, too late. I'm certain this rule will be roundly ignored by many commercial operators. As Figbar mentioned, this is a non-starter for establishing a UAS photography/video business where clients need quick turnaround. Since hobbyists are allowed to play in controlled airspace, how in the heck will authorities be able to enforce anything at all?

    Let's say someone calls the fuzz on a UAS operator that is working within controlled airspace. That operator is probably going to tell the responding officer (sheriff, local PD) that they are just a hobbyist, and legally flying (provided they notified the appropriate parties). There may be no way for the responding officer to discern the difference between a recreational and commercial flight. What are they going to do? Refer it to the FAA? And then what? Is the FAA going to really investigate. I just don't see it happening, except of course in the event of a serious incident.

    The sheer quantity of anticipated operations within controlled airspace makes this an asinine way of implementing the rule. I understand they want to make it as restrictive as possible, and might relax things later. It's hard to do it the other way around. But let's get real. This doesn't work for anyone involved, and does nothing to improve safety of the NAS.
     
  9. Joet

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    If it got that far (and it wouldn't), I suspect they'd check any video to see if it contained anything obviously commercial in nature (tower inspection footage, say) and act on that basis. The FAA does have a pamphlet online somewhere that advises law enforcement with respect to hobby and Part 107 flights and what to do if someone is in violation. I keep a copy in my case "just in case" since it also states that municipalities cannot regulate airspace.
     
  10. Jason1234

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    From what I understand, they (FAA) are sending sector maps to every airport authority and asking them to return it with altitude restrictions by sector. Somehow they are going to use this to evaluate airspace waivers centrally. If you look at the form the FAA set up online to submit waiver requests, it has nothing to do with sectors. You have to specify a lat/long and a radius. That radius can encompass under 1 NM up to 3NM, which can cover a huge chunk of a Class B/C/D/Esurf airspace. Surely there will be some sectors in the approach/departure paths that have a 0 altitude restriction, so a waiver request encompassing these sectors in the requested radius will surely be denied. The sector map and waiver request system are incongruous.

    IMHO, the recreational rule is far more reasonable and workable. You call the tower, tell them where you want to operate, and they say, "yeah, sure, keep it under 400, thanks for letting us know, have fun," or "hey dummy, that's 1/4 mile from the approach end of the active runway in use - no way, find another place."

    We're supposed to be licensed, type-rated pilots, but we can't even do what a 13 year old can do on Christmas morning with his new toy?

    #Stupid
     
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  11. Jason1234

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    Wait - I love inspecting towers for fun! :)

    That reference card for local law enforcement is here:

    https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/law_enforcement/media/FAA_UAS-DRONE-LE_reference_card.pdf
     
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  12. Jason1234

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    And I should mention that the waiver request form has no provision for operations that span two different classes of airspace or airport controlled airspaces. What about operations that transition from the outer part of a Class C to a Class D for a nearby airport? There does no appear to be a way to request a waiver for this. I guess you just pick the higher class of airspace in the form and use the description field to elaborate.
     
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  13. Joet

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    Conversely, under Part 107 we don't have to notify an airport within 5NM as long as we don't enter controlled airspace. There's a lot of tiny municipal and private airports in 700' floor Class E around me that I don't have to deal with anymore. "Hi, I'm going to be flying an unmanned aircraft within 5NM of your location." "Huh? What are you calling me for? *click*".
     
  14. Jason1234

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    That's true, but a huge chunk of the population, especially corporate customers, are near controlled airports.

    And remember that Class E surface airspace is controlled. That extends a local class D into a hugely lucrative market for me, making a waiver necessary. While this is an approach path (most of the time) there damn well better not be any manned aircraft under 400 feet in this area. We're talking over 4 miles out! I'm very curious to see what the local tower lists this area as on their sector map.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk
     
  15. Joet

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    Yep. In my case, there's a lot of 700' floored Class E surrounding these small airports, not to mention a lot of airports and heliports in Class G airspace as well. It wasn't uncommon for me to make 4-6 phone calls to different hospitals and "seaplane bases" (some dude's house with his seaplane on the lake behind the house) to meet the requirements, and I will gladly accept the controlled airspace restrictions as a tradeoff, especially since the FAA is looking to fix the waiver problem.
     
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  16. Dave Armbrust

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    Part 107 allows us to fly within class G (uncontrolled airspace) up to 400'. This is huge and describes most of the country. Class B, C and D surface areas are excluded. Manned aircraft must have a mode C transponder (B an C), establish two way communication (B, C and D) and receive a clearance to enter Class B airspace. We can do any of this.

    Class E to the surface is a little tricker as this is an untowered airport that has an instrument approach that goes down to 200' AGL typically. Fortunately an airport with an instrument approach that goes this low typically has a control tower.

    To fly in any of this airspace Part 107.41 only requires prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC). While it is possible to get a waiver from 107.41, it does not state we can not fly in this airspace without this waiver. Again it only says that you must have prior ATC (tower) authorization.

    There is no reason to believe that the tower would tell a certified remote pilot that he can not fly in this airspace, yet give approval to a hobbiest in the same location.

    While it may be true someone at the FAA told Joet that he needed a waiver to fly in controlled airspace, it is likely he FAA person did not understand the question or does not understand the new regulations.

    The regulations are what the regulations state. Yes, you do need a waiver to fly in controlled airspace WITHOUT prior authorization, and NO you do not need a waiver to fly I controlled airspace with prior ATC (tower) authorization.

    It really is that simple.
     
    #16 Dave Armbrust, Sep 1, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  17. Dave Armbrust

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    BTW, it is not the FAA we should be upset with, Part 107 is very reasonable.

    It is DJI that has set crazy limitations, not based on any regulations, that are far more restrictive than Part 107.
     
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  18. Jason1234

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    Dave,

    I see you are a CFI, but I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the regulations. Reference this:

    https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/AC_107-2_AFS-1_Signed.pdf

    Section 5.8 (Emphasis added):

    It states:

    5.8 Operation Near Airports; in Certain Airspace; in Prohibited or Restricted Areas; or in the Proximity of Certain Areas Designated by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). Though many sUAS operations will occur in uncontrolled airspace, there are some that may need to operate in controlled airspace. Operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from air traffic control (ATC). The link to the current authorization process can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/. The sUAS remote PIC must understand airspace classifications and requirements. Failure to do so would be in violation of the part 107 regulations and may potentially have an adverse safety effect. Although sUAS will not be subject to part 91, the equipage and communications requirements outlined in part 91 were designed to provide safety and efficiency in controlled airspace. Accordingly, while sUAS operating under part 107 are not subject to part 91, as a practical matter, ATC authorization or clearance may depend on operational parameters similar to those found in part 91. The 6/21/16 AC 107-2 5-6 FAA has the authority to approve or deny aircraft operations based on traffic density, controller workload, communication issues, or any other type of operations that could potentially impact the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic in that airspace. Those planning sUAS operations in controlled airspace are encouraged to contact the FAA as early as possible. (For suggested references, please see paragraph 2.3.)​

    This clearly states the authorization process is to fill out the same form as the waiver process. You can't just call the tower and request permission to enter the airspace. That is not the current authorization process.

    What is happening is the FAA is sending out sector maps to all airports. They are sending these back to the FAA with recommended maximum altitudes per sector. The FAA will approve or disapprove authorizations centrally based on this feedback and notify the airport and the remote pilot. It is a centralized process.

    Over time, I expect this to evolve. I think you would agree it is unworkable in the long run.

    As to your comment that Class G covers most of the country, that is not the point. I suspect that much of the commercial opportunity from Part 107 will come from urban and suburban areas that are in close proximity to a controlled airport. Real estate comes to mind, but also filming for TV, movies, and commercials, package delivery, and a whole host of other uses in densely populated residential and commercial centers. It is not a viable solution to require a detailed waiver process that takes 90 days. Ultimately this needs to either go away altogether, have reduced maximums for these areas, or require local ATC authorization or preferably notification (like hobbyists).

    Finally, regarding surface Class E extensions of Class D airspace... they really should just make the maximum 200 feet AGL without a waiver. These extensions often take up huge chunks of densely populated suburban residential and commercial land. There are huge commercial applications in these areas, even if limited to treetop-altitudes. While it is a "surface" Class E, manned aircraft should not be operating under 200 feet in these areas anyway. An IFR approach would be above this altitude if I am not mistaken, but a UAS operation would be done in VFR conditions anyway, and see-and-avoid should be pretty easy at this altitude. Selfishly, I would be fine with a 200' AGL and 300' radius restriction within controlled airspace without notification. That's all I need for my typical expected operations. I realize that would not suit many. At a certain point it is ridiculous to require ATC authorization (i.e. operations below adjacent treetops within the confines of a residential property).

    In the interim, we will just have to jump through the hoops and follow the letter of the law.
     
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  19. Jason1234

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    And if you want the definitive answer, see FAA Order JO 7200.23, which admittedly and strangely is not effective until October 3, 2016, but section 4(B)(1) on page 8 will tell you all you need to know:

    B. Facility Responsibilities
    1. General. In the event a Part 107 operator contacts an ATC facility directly for authorization, the facility must not issue authorization. The facility must direct the operator to the FAA UAS website, www.faa.gov/uas. ​

    I know this is going to come as a huge surprise to many Part 107 candidates and pilots that thought a controlled airspace authorization meant just calling your friendly tower staff.
     
  20. SanCap

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    I am confused now!!!