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Low flying aircraft

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#41
A question to you Ron, An F-15 Is flying down a valley at 150ft above the valley floor, it is class G airspace, it collides with a drone.

Who if anyone is at fault in your opinion?
never saw one and never will see one over my house, I am referring to civilian aircraft flying low altitude and if I am flying below 400'.
I am simply asking do pilots not think it is likely for them to come in contact with a drone when they fly low altitude?
 
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#42
In sparsely populated areas (and the term sparsely is never defined so they've given us enough rope to hang ourselves . . .) that's perfectly legal. Below is a copy of the actual Regulations:

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a)Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard topersons or property on the surface.

(b)Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

(c)Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

(d)Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface -

(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.


I highlighted the section that pertains to this topic!!
I see that it is legal but arent they taking a risk? It is legal for you to fly your drone at that altitude also. The planes I saw at low altitude were flying over town. I wasnt in the desert, they were over a major highway along a coastline.
 
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#43
this is just not true.

There are an estimated 10-20 BILLION birds in the USA.
There are less than 10 MILLION drones in the USA.



yes, I knowingly take the risk. But also know a collision would be extremely unlikely.

For every 1 drone there are at least 1000 birds.
I estimate birds get 10-100 times more flight time than drones,
Only a small fraction of my flight-time will be below 500ft, birds don't have a height limit and NFZ like drones.

So exposure to drones is probably 1.000.000+ lower than exposure to birds.

There are around 15.000 bird-strikes per year in the USA. ~1 per 2000 flights.
With a factor 1.000.000 less exposure from drones i'll take the 1:2.000.000.000 odds.
Good to know pilots arent worried about it but I can promise you all legally flying drone operators are terrified of of an aircraft hitting their drone and it is not always easy for us to see from the ground the exact heading of your aircraft and since we cant assume that you are above our altitude since as you said you will fly below 400' it just worries all of us drone operators that we will be blamed for not yielding to an aircraft.
 
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#44
The regulations have been covered by others as it pertains to fixed wing aircraft, but ron77584 also mentioned a helicopter. A helicopter can be operated at much lower minimums than a fixed wing aircraft as long as it abides by 91.119 as stated by others. A few years ago I was at the FSDO and got talking regulations with a few of the guys and the topic of the difference between fixed wing and helicopter compliance of 91.119. I’ll try to summarize that discussion.

Although it might be helpful to try and define what is a congested area. I was taught a rule of thumb a long time ago that any town or area highlighted in yellow on a FAA sectional map would be considered congested.

First, all aircraft must abide by part 91.119 but it also differentiates between aircraft. There are different paragraphs that do this. There is nothing that differentiates any aircraft type in paragraph (a) which reads;
Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

So, if you have any problem while flying any aircraft that causes a forced landing, such as a power failure, and you cause “undue” hazard to persons of property on the surface. You were not flying at an altitude necessary for safety. BTW the definition of “undue” was ambiguous at best.

Second, Helicopters are further defined in paragraph (d);
Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface—
(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

A helicopter can be operated in a congested area and be closer than the minimums stated by others of 500 ft. This is allowed because a helicopter is more maneuverable in a power failure (autorotation) than a fixed wing aircraft. A competent helicopter pilot can put a helicopter down in a 100x100 ft area.

To answer the question, if the fixed wing aircraft pilot observed he was 500 ft AGL (this is an unexact science using your "eyeometer" the same way you judged he was at 400 AGL) and he didn’t damage anything on the ground, he was operating within the regulations. The helicopter was also within regulations because he also didn’t damage anything on the ground.

The part where you mention the pilot mentioning the 700’ was most likely due to routes and altitudes that were prescribed by the FAA that can be found in the Chart Supplement, Sectional, Terminal, or Flyaway charts. A local operator can also have an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that would regulate how their pilots fly in and out of certain airports.

Hope this helps clarify helicopter operations vs fixed wing. BTW quick hint on how to tell altitudes of other objects around the drone using your camera or FPV. If you have your camera level anything touching the horizon is at your same altitude.

As for the right of way rules, I think 91.115 paragraph (e) applies here. It states; Special circumstances. When aircraft, or an aircraft and a vessel, approach so as to involve risk of collision, each aircraft or vessel shall proceed with careful regard to existing circumstances, including the limitations of the respective craft.

Drones are usually the size of birds and depending on the circumstances the pilot many not be able to see the drone until avoiding a collision may exceed the limitations of the aircraft. Therefore in the eyes of the FAA the drone is responsible to see and avoid other air traffic.[/Q
A question to you Ron, An F-15 Is flying down a valley at 150ft above the valley floor, it is class G airspace, it collides with a drone.

Who if anyone is at fault in your opinion?
We already know the drone operator is always going to be at fault but I am just pointing out that we are out there flying legally and we do not want to be the cause of an accident and will do everything we can to avoid one but we are on the ground which limits our visibility watching the drone
 
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#45
We're talking about right of way and it's practical application. A car can inflict heavy damage or death to a pedestrian, that's why they have right of way. But cars can't stop on a dime or even divert in time so if the pedestrian did not do his part, the driver is not charged.

I can't always detect, decide and act fast enough with an approaching plane to get out of his way. I could in fact get IN his way, trying to get out of it, particularly by VLOS. I agree we should be the primary ones looking out, but that's not always practical or even possible. So planes should also do their part to share the airspace. You stay up there above 500', I'll stay down here below 400'. Besides, in staying above 500', you'll avoid those power lines you didn't think of.
Exactly my thinking. It is easy for Pilots to fly low and risk hitting a drone since we "Drone Operators" will be at fault.
Sounds like they dont want to share the skies with us. The ground to 400' is just too **** generous.
 
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#46
this is just not true.

There are an estimated 10-20 BILLION birds in the USA.
There are less than 10 MILLION drones in the USA.



yes, I knowingly take the risk. But also know a collision would be extremely unlikely.

For every 1 drone there are at least 1000 birds.
I estimate birds get 10-100 times more flight time than drones,
Only a small fraction of my flight-time will be below 500ft, birds don't have a height limit and NFZ like drones.

So exposure to drones is probably 1.000.000+ lower than exposure to birds.

There are around 15.000 bird-strikes per year in the USA. ~1 per 2000 flights.
With a factor 1.000.000 less exposure from drones i'll take the 1:2.000.000.000 odds.
All those birds are under no legal obligation to avoid your plane and they wont be sued by your family members or passengers or stand trial.
 

DesG

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#48
All pilots flying VFR (visual flying rules) use the 'see and avoid' rule. If you are flying legally and a low flying aircraft collides with you then really it's the pilot's problem. If I am flying in my little two seater at low level I will make damned sure to stay away from known model flying areas. I once flew my little microlight (ultralite) over a model flying site when I got lost (sorry-unsure of my position) and a model went vertically upwards just in front of me like a bloody missile. It scared the crap out of me. It was mostly my fault although the model flyer was out of order for deliberately trying to send me a message for being in "their" airspace.
This is a bit more difficult now with drones becoming more prevelant but it really is up to the pilot (s) to avoid each other.
I was over twenty years fixing Tornado jets out in the desert and we often had jets coming back after birdstrikes with some pretty serious sized vultures and all we had to worry about was cleaning the gore and feathers off the jet! A little drone will not do much damage to a military jet. I have an old Jaguar windscreen in my workshop I use as a flat surface and it is over an inch thick armour glass.
 

Sky1

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#50
Maybe the pilots of those planes should call us for clearance before they fly that low :D
 
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#54
I’m a professional pilot with a background in military and commercial aviation.

Big sky theory has already been tested and proven a failure due to multiple mid-air collisions. A better way to go is learn how to share the airspace.

Military, government, civilian & commercial operators all fly below 400’ on a regular basis. Come up with a deconfliction plan or emergency procedure you can execute when a manned aircraft enters your flight area. As always they have the right of way, and as another fellow poster pointed out, a lot more to lose.

Operator beware.
 
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#55
I have only been flying MA for two weeks and I have already had an encounter with a manned aircraft. I decided to fly from National Forest. Earlier in the day I saw US Forest service helo so I knew to watch out for them. I climbed out above the trees and decided to ascend the mountain in front of me to the top of the ridge. As I got higher I could keep VLOS and fly MA closer to the terrain. As I stopped climbing out of nowhere a small fixed wing aircraft came from behind me. Flying above the trees kept me from seeing him until he was right where my drone was. I made an evasive maneuver to the left and drove my stick downward to descend. Engaging SPORT mode may have been very helpful here.

I lost sight as I tried to react to the manned acft, because my eyes fixated on his position.

This was a non-event. I was flying just at the ridge line and not at a very high altitude. The pilot of the other acft probably crosses the ridge at 300-500 AGL but I don’t know for sure. I just know it took me by surprise to be staring at my drone and see another plane enter the space.
 
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#56
I launched my Mavic Pro from a field next to my house. Gained enough altitude (100 ft) to clear the Pine Trees that ringed a pond behind the house. The purpose was to photograph the property. Suddenly out of nowhere and flying treetop level a vintage P51 Mustang roars into view luckily behind where I was hovering. It executed a perfect aileron roll, gained altitude and flew on. I am thing he saw the drone and put on a show. Close call non the less.
 
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#57
Personally, I find it offensive that light aircraft fly at altitudes below 400 feet over my house. It’s not safe, if there is any inflight problem, they are at risk of crashing into houses because they don’t have the altitude to get to a safer landing spot. Small aircraft crash into houses all the time and people get killed sometimes. I don’t lose any sleep about a small drone crashing into my house and I’m not aware of anyone being killed by a non-military drone.
 
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France
#58
Personally, I find it offensive that light aircraft fly at altitudes below 400 feet over my house.
They're not supposed to, it's illegal.

What I find funny about all this is, new amateur drone operators who want to own the sky, something that has been owned by airplanes for decades.
I can picture Mr Smith living in the Wyoming, who got a drone from his son 2 months ago and wants to own the sky so he can take pictures of his house...
 
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#59
I was working on a RR branch line that ran to the lead mines in South Central Missouri, out in the middle of nowhere in the Clark Nat. Forest. I felt/heard this low rumble, of course I thought it was a locomotive pulling the grade. Then all of a sudden a B-52 flew right over me, shadow and all not 400ft above the trees. I know they're huge, my uncle flew one, but you could taste the kerosene. Scared the **** out of me. Then two F-15's came over, not much higher. Turns out, they use the mineshaft tower sticking out of the forest canopy for practice runs. I have also seen B-2's (from Whiteman no doubt) at not much more than 1200ft. That thing is a visual that will make the hairs on your neck stand up. So if you're wondering what that giant chunk of "Special Use" air space is, south of Ft. Leonard Wood, there's your answer.
 

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