Small Airport/Heliport Notification

Discussion in 'sUAV Rules & Regulations' started by gckless, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. gckless

    gckless Member

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    I have not flown before (Mavic coming at some point), so I'm a bit unfamiliar with notification procedures. For small airport or heliport notifications, does a phone call suffice? Now, I am trying to get it in writing through an email so I have it in my hand in case anything happens, but is that enough? The heliport near where I'd like to fly only has a phone number listed in airnav.com. It's private use. Also, I don't need permission from any airport, I simply need to notify them, correct?

    I read somewhere that major airports don't have a way yet to track or record drone flights, so they don't really care at all. Kinda makes it feel pointless for me to be doing it, but I think it's good that new guys like myself should be getting in the habit of doing that now. With the rules now and so many more people getting them in the skies, I can see strict regs being thrown down in the coming years. Unfortunately.
     
  2. ATXdrone

    ATXdrone Well-Known Member

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    Newbie here (my pre-ordered Mavic Pro will be my first drone/UAS). Responding primarily to follow the thread.

    That said, with all the discussions online with regards to Heliports (are they or are they not treated like airports?), the FAA seems to be making its intentions clear with their FAQ. This doesn't mean that their FAQ author is any more expert than the rest of us non-commercial UAS pilots, but just putting it out there: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Frequently Asked Questions/Help (look for "heliport" in that section).

    I'm going to try and make contact with the heliport/helipad manager at the local hospital (FAA lists it as a heliport, not a helipad) and see if I can get a "permanent" understanding from them. Hopefully I don't have to contact them every flight. If I get this, there are several places in my town (including my house/neighborhood) that are free of flight restrictions.
     
  3. doubleoasian

    doubleoasian Member

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    I am by no means a veteran of flying. But I've done mostly FPV and racing quads. The pending Mavic will make my multicopter family 5 members strong. My experience when notifying small airports and heliports is the guy who answers the phone says "....._______ tower this is _______. You're a what? Drones? If you see an aircraft don't hit them and stay below 500 ft--" <phone hangs up>

    Most of the time these guys don't care at all. The media portrays drones being able to take down larger flying aircraft but in reality they're designed to deal with bird strikes just fine.

    So to summarize your questions:

    " For small airport or heliport notifications, does a phone call suffice?"
    Yes a phone call will suffice.

    Now, I am trying to get it in writing through an email so I have it in my hand in case anything happens, but is that enough?
    Yes that is enough.

    " I don't need permission from any airport, I simply need to notify them, correct?"
    Technically correct, but you have to pick your battles. The the guy in the tower gets pissed and calls the authorities on you, who do you think is going to win the dispute? You and your Mavic, or them and their cessna's bringing in travelers and all sorts of $$$ in locally.

    "major airports don't have a way yet to track or record drone flights, so they don't really care at all"
    Yes and no, with verified drone spottings within the no fly limit they track what they can. Some (depending on location ect) will send their falconer to take down the drone. some will just send air port security out there to shoot it down with the bird shot. Some will do nothing. But it all goes in a log. And if they get your drone with your registration number, have fun with the legal battle. FYI falconers and bird-shot are the common methods for keeping birds off the runways. It really depends on what location your in (country ect). Air force uses bridshot, England uses falconers, some places just hope birds stay away.

    "I can see strict regs being thrown down in the coming years"
    It depends on how large the issue becomes. When I first started getting into drones everyone was like "...OMG THEY'RE SPYING ON MY DAUGHTER!" now they have left the limelight. Fact of the matter is, don't be part of the problem. I'm not saying you don't have to register, but for now the consequences are a lost drone and no lawsuit for you. But more strict regs for future pilots. If you do get cause doing no-no's and are registered, potential slap on the wrist or large fine. Choose your battles.
     
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  4. ___

    ___ Well-Known Member

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    This is the email template that I have used...

    I will be piloting my FAA registered UAS responsibly within 4-5 miles of your airport on or about Saturday November 26, 2016 during the day for recreation. If the date were to change I will update you. Once I have a specific time, I can update you. I will not be flying over 400 AGL and to the best of my beliefs will in no way be interacting with any activities that would effect operations at your airport.

    Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you feel this would negatively effect air traffic at your airport.

    Note that I will file a NOTAM as well.

    My FAA UAS Certificate numbers for my aircraft are FAXXXXXXXX and FAXXXXXXXX

    Thank you,

    [Name here]

    Section 336 SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT:

    When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
    I reference Lockheed Martin's Flight Service to file the NOTAM with a nice template. A free account is required. :-/
     
    studentoflight and gckless like this.
  5. gckless

    gckless Member

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    Cool, thanks folks!
     
  6. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ Administrator
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    Interesting plan of attack. Have you ever heard back from someone you sent that to?
     
  7. ___

    ___ Well-Known Member

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    Yes :) ,

    "As long as you follow FAA guidelines, ie < 400’, line of sight, NOTAM filed, etc you are good to operate."
     
  8. 4Props.us

    4Props.us New Member

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    Hi,
    Just took the test and want to add to the conversation:
    This from the FAA website and test material:

    "Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without air traffic control permission.
    Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace need ATC approval. See Chapter 14 in the Pilot's Handbook. and §107.41 Operation in certain airspace."
    "

    If you don't get permission, you are not allowed. Notification is not enough.

    It's also on the test.
     
    #8 4Props.us, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  9. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ Administrator
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    This only applies to Part 107 holders.... non-commercial hobby fliers just need to notify, not get permission.
     
  10. 4Props.us

    4Props.us New Member

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    Please don't give misinformation.
    Check the third one.
    This is from the FAA Site:
    Safety Guidelines
    • Fly at or below 400 feet
    • Keep your UAS within sight
    • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
    • Never fly over groups of people
    • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
    • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
    • Never fly under the influence
    • Be aware of airspace requirements
     
  11. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ Administrator
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    I ask the same of you sir...

    Public Law 112-95, Section 336 requires model aircraft operators to notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower (if one is located at the airport) prior to operating within 5 miles of an airport.

    SOURCE: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Use of Model Aircraft Near an Airport – Airports
     
  12. 4Props.us

    4Props.us New Member

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    You mean where it says in 112-95 Section 336 (a)(5) this?:
    (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of
    the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air
    traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located
    at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model
    aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5
    miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon
    operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport
    air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is
    located at the airport)).


    And this from AOPA:

    Contacting the airport
    If you determine your location is legal for drone operations but is within five miles of an airport, the next step is to contact the airport manager or airport operations. The contact information for every airport is publicly available, including the phone number normally used for airport operations and the manager. These individuals would be able to speak to you about drone operations. AOPA has a user-friendly search engine that provides the phone number for the airport manager (at the very bottom of the airport’s information page) and is usually the best place to start when you have determined you need to call.

    The airport manager or employee will likely be interested in the following information:

    1. Where you will be operating (address or latitude/longitude)
    2. The altitudes at which you will be flying (below 400 feet above ground level)
    3. What type of flying activity you will be doing
    4. The number of aircraft and a basic description of the aircraft
    5. When you will be flying and for how long
    6. Your name and a method of contacting you such as a cell phone number or radio frequency
    Airport management may not say the drone operation is approved, but all that is required is notification for drone operations to take place. If the airport says the operation may be unsafe or that they disapprove it, you should fly in another location where you do not need the airport’s approval or where the airport operator states would be acceptable.
     
  13. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ Administrator
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    Looks like you got it now! :) So as you see, you can fly within 5 miles of an airport as a hobbyist.
     
  14. HFI

    HFI Member

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    With all the recent changes in regulations, it's no wonder that hobbyists, commercial operators, and even FAA staff can be confused as to what's what when flying a sUAS. Now throw the local P.D. into the mix and everyone has an opinion. Even the Academy of Model Aeronautics is sending mixed messages. So I'll try and help, but it will probably only make things worse :)

    The public law mentioned in these posts has been placed into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). 14 CFR Part 101 (Model Aircraft) reads, in part: "When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation." Airport is defined in the CFR as: "an area of land or water that is used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, and includes its buildings and facilities, if any." An aircraft is anything that flies (trust me on this).

    Now the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) safety code simply states that a model aircraft operator will not "fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator. However, they also have publicly stated that their members should notify an airport if they plan on flying within 5 miles of an airport - are we confused yet?

    There is a new Joint Order 7200.23 that instructs ATC facilities on how to handle "Part 101 requests" from hobbyists including how to deny them. It does not specify the form of the notification (phone, letter, email...whatever). This definitely shows that there is an opportunity for ATC to deny your operation. Interestingly, the same order prohibits ATC facilities from authorizing commercial operator requests to fly within controlled airspace and requires them (the commercial operator) to be referred to this specific FAA website.

    So friends, it is very complicated. After all, it's government! The commercial operator is in some ways more constrained than the hobbyist. They cannot operate in any area of controlled airspace without prior authorization. A hobbyist, however, can fly in those areas without notification where the controlled airspace (Class B surface for example) is more than 5 miles from the airport. And it is also the other way around in that a commercial operator can essentially operate on top of an airport as long as it is in Class G airspace (uncontrolled airspace) without prior authorization being required. Believe it or not, there are many airports within uncontrolled airspace. Rancher Joe's landing field and the Big Top Helipad that show up in the FAA's B4UFly app are often examples of those.

    So my advice to you if you are a hobbyist is to always do your up most to provide reasonable prior notice when operating within 5 miles of any airport, heliport, seaport, blimp port, or whatever. I'd use the B4UFly app to identify them and then online resources to find a contact number. The most simple and least stressful way to be sure is to join the AMA and a local flying club that has an established flying field and fly there. Then you have no worries about providing any notification or being sure that you are in an area where model aircraft are permitted.
     
    #14 HFI, Oct 23, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
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  15. Swancoat

    Swancoat Member

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    B4UFly is so close, yet so far.

    It has a list of all of the airports you're going to impact.... At a minimum they could list phone numbers for those airports. Surely the FAA has those.

    Beyond that, there's a screen at the beginning where you can enter your flight details, but it specifically warns that this does NOT constitute notification. I appreciate the warning, but it totally SHOULD. I mean, the FAA definitely has the phone numbers for these airports, and I assume they have the email addresses as well. They could take the info they collect, and just draft up an email addressed to all of the relevant airports and hand it off to your own email client to send... Seems like minimal effort compared to everything else in the app.
     
  16. IcySparks

    IcySparks Member

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    I'm a private pilot, live 3.3 miles from small airport with a traffic control airport. I'll be calling the tower on my cell phone (automatic call recorderapp running and asking the tower for permission to fly my 1.4lb drone under 400', in line of site, at the park, over an empty baseball field 4 miles due east of the airport. This is all after it is shipped,received, etc. ;-) I think they would ask when I will start and end. I'm sure they won't ask for a call when I'm finished. They are busy.
     
  17. kennedye

    kennedye Member

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    Well yeah, if I call Paine Field and tell them "hey I'm going to fly over the Boeing ramp at about 40 feet to get some plane pr0n photos, just letting you know" there is a highly nonzero chance they will say "er, no you're not." :p

    Airports have been tasked with developing maps of the airspace around them partially to make it much easier to determine whether a UAS might be in a dangerous area; the goal is to be able to request an airspace authorization by email and get an immediate response. However they've only just recently started handing out Class D authorizations (Class B won't be ready until December IIRC) so I wouldn't expect it to work that well just yet.
     
  18. graphex

    graphex Member

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    I've got a Class D airport, a smaller airport, two hospitals with helipads, and two private 'airstrips' all within 5 miles of my house. Hopefully I can start getting some "Letter of Agreements" going so I don't have to call them all every time I fly. I'm guessing the towered airport will probably want me to call each time, but then again, they're on the clock and accustomed to receiving notifications in real time. Most of the others don't typically pick up the phone, but I just leave a message and check the box (in my handwritten preflight checklist). Is notifying farmer Dave that I'm flying my drone 4.3 miles away by leaving a message on his voicemail relatively pointless and inefficient? Sure, but it isn't the first time that the FAA has been accused of having policies that are both of those things.

    It is kind of sad that if I want to get Part 107 certification, everything would switch to "ask for permission" versus "provide notification" but at least for now, I'm not particularly inclined to do any commercial activities with my Mavic. DJI better watch out, though, any notoriety gained from using Skypixel is likely to be interpreted by the FAA as making it commercial flying.

    Thanks ___ for the email template, that's pretty useful!
     
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