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Sep 19, 2017
Hi Guys,

I need some help here. My waiver got denied & I thought I was very thorough in my application. Can anyone help point out what I am missing?

I'm new to this, constructive feedback only please.

Thanks in advance.

Part of my drone business includes aerial photography & videography of accident clean-ups for various towing companies in the area. These photographs help them justify their costs to the insurance companies to which they submit claims. Obviously these accidents can take place at any time of day or night with no notification, so it is important for me to be ready to photograph these scenes. Of course this will be done with the utmost safety in mind.

Possible risks associated with night operations include night illusions, night blindness, loss of visual line of sight due to darkness, pedestrian/vehicle collisions, aerial collisions, equipment failure & human error.

Many policies & failsafes will be implemented to minimize risk. These will include, but not be limited to:

  1. At least one (1) visual observer (VO) will be present from operational onset to completion, in addition to the remote pilot-in-command (PIC). This VO will equipped with a minimum one thousand (1,000) lumen focusable flashlight to visualize the small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS), terrain, structures, etc. as necessary. All involved parties will be clothed in reflective wear.

  1. When at all possible, the operational area will be scouted during daylight hours by both VO & remote PIC for familiarization.

  1. A pair of white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for failure redundancy will be affixed to the top & underbelly of the sUAS, each with a hemispherical visibility of no less than three (3) statute miles. These LEDs will be set to strobe. The specific device to be used can be found at the following link:

  1. A radio system set to receive the local Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) for manned flight operations awareness.

  1. Communication devices such as two-way radios will be utilized if distance between parties necessitates, otherwise all parties will remain within earshot of each other. These radios will always be carried & on regardless of expected use as a contingency for unforeseen distancing between parties.

  1. Limiting flight altitude to the absolute minimum necessary to complete a task & never greater than four hundred (400) feet without an approved altitude waiver.

  1. Training of & regular review by all involved parties in the identification & mitigation of night illusions including but not limited to autokinesis, fixation, reversible perspective illusion, size-distance illusion, & flicker vertigo.

  1. Training of & regular review by all involved parties in the identification & mitigation of dangerous personality traits & thought processes including but not limited to machismo, impulsivity, invulnerability, resignation & anti-authoritarianism. Any party found to display these traits & be unresponsive to correction will be dismissed from their position.

  1. All parties will remain in an ambient light similar to that of the area of operations for no less than twenty (20) minutes prior to the onset of operations to ensure full night vision accommodation.

  1. All parties involved will have obtained at least eight (8) consecutive hours of sleep in the last twenty-four (24) hours, & will not have been awake for more than twelve (12) consecutive hours or less than forty-five (45) minutes at the onset of the operation.

  1. All parties involved will adhere to the regulations set forth by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding alcohol & legal psychotropic medications. No involved parties will ever have been found to have participated in illicit substance abuse.

  1. A preflight checklist will be documented on paper or electronically prior to every operation.

  1. In an absolute worst case scenario such as impending collision with a manned aircraft, the sUAS will be sacrificed through emergency deactivation & caused to free-fall. If possible, the sUAS will be reactivated & righted before impact, but this will have no bearing on the decision to prevent a catastrophe.

These same safety guidelines will also be implemented for other operations taking place during or after civil twilight. Other examples of operations may include dusk real estate & aesthetic photography, search & rescue, thermal building inspection & photography spotlighting.

These operations will never take place within five (5) nautical miles of an airport or other restricted areas without a properly approved airspace authorization or waiver. This will be ensured through use of mobile applications utilizing the AirMap database.


These operations will take place within fifty (50) statute miles of the [redacted] ZIP code. As previously stated, these operations will never take place within five (5) nautical miles of an airport or other restricted areas without a properly approved airspace authorization or waiver. This will be ensured through use of mobile applications utilizing the AirMap database.
You might include the specific details of the training. Most of the night operations training classes will provide a certificate of completion.

It also may be possible to scout all the roadways in the area during the daytime and make note of low very obvious obstructions. Power lines crossing roads comes to mind. A 50 mile radius is probably a lot of roads, I understand but this would show a dedication to safety.
Want my suggestion? Get the 3 mile visible strobes and screw the FAA.

I have tried for 9 MONTHS and multiple applications to get a 107.29 waiver.

I am supposed to find a way to avoid aircraft that come into my operational area which is limited to 200' AGL..... WTF since the bottom ceiling for aircraft is 500', and in some areas 1000' , unless you are a helicopter or I am flying right over the numbers at the local airport, where the bleep am I going to encounter another aircraft? I jumped thru all sorts of hoops, did all sorts of responses, what was not flagged on one application was flagged on a subsequent one. The FAA is making it up as they go along.

I am a Part 61 Private Pliot, in addition to the 107 Airman Certificate. I should not have to kiss the FAA's backside to fly 200' AGL in the dark when I have 3 mile compliant strobes and am operating in VLOS.

Then they have this whole BS about people wandering into the area.... Short of a mine field I tried every explanation possible... security, ground crew, police details, you name it... and they would not buy any of it.
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This was not acceptable to them:
The Pilot/Pilot In Charge will maintain visual line of sight with
the sUAV during darkness by using 2 or more trained visual observers,
and will not fly in areas with obstructed views. The sUAV, a DJI Mavic
Pro will be equipped with 2 red, 2 green, and one white LED Strobon Cree
Standalone LED, which are visible for more than 3 miles. This will
insure that the uSAV will be in VLOS at all times.

Flight operations will take place in well lighted areas and only after
the site has been visited during daylight hours to check for any dangers
or operational concerns

Although the MavicPro will display position, direction, altitude, and
attitude, and show in which direction the sUAV is moving in the X, Y,
and Z axises, we will not rely solely on the technology, but will always
maintain VLOS with the sUAV, without flying over people, maintaining at
least minimum separation from structures and obstacles, and by a
constant scanning of the sky to avoid other aircraft. We will always
yield to other aircraft in the airspace.

The PIC, Visual Observers, and other members of the ground crew will be
trained and quizzed on the operational issues related to flying in low
light conditions (darkness) by being briefed on
Chapter 17, Aeromedical Factors of the Pilot’s Handbook of
Aeronautical knowledge, pages 17-22 through 17-29. and
the PIC/Remote Pilot and all Visual Observers will watch and review
review FAA Night Vision video, available at FAA TV: Vision in Aviation

The Remote Pilot/ Pilot In Charge will ensure that the takeoff and
landing area is sufficiently illuminated so that the aircraft can be
safely controlled during takeoff and landing and that any obstructions
within 50 feet laterally of the takeoff and landing area are visible.
As for how we plan to communicate, all people involved in the operation will be assigned Citizens Band radios with a specific main frequency and 2 back up channels for communication.

This may seem old fashioned but they have served me well for over 40 years.

As a backup to that, our cell phones will be set up with an "app" that allows them to be used as walkie talkies over a cellular network.

The app is called Zello, and it was used extensively during Hurricane Irma to provide group connectivity.

We used it in my community in Fort Myers during Irma with great success to communicate with our neighbors.

We will also have a radio scanner programmed to relevant frequencies for where we are operating 121.5, unicom, etc.


As for training the observers we will be using this quiz, a passing score will be 18 correct out of 20 questions, with a review with the V.O. to explain the correct answers to the missed questions. I have also consulted with two C.F.I.'s I fly with as part of my part 61 training for additional suggestions. As stated in our original application, we will be using Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the FAA video as part of our training regimen.

Visual Observer/ PIC EXAM for sUAS Night Flying

1. Night flying is _____ times more dangerous than day flying.

2. Fill in the blanks on the figure below:

3. __________ vision is achieved by a combination of rods and cones and is
experienced at dawn, dusk, and during full moonlight.

4. The area where the optic nerve connects to the retina in the back of each eye is
known as the optic disk. There is a total absence of cones and rods in this area, and
consequently, each eye is completely ______ in this spot. As a result, it is referred to as
the blind spot that everyone has in each eye.

5. FAA Part 107 regulations prohibits operation of an sUAS at night, which is defined
as the time between the end of evening __________and the beginning of
morning _________, as published in The Air Almanac, converted to local time.

6. FAA Part 107 requires the PIC to obtain a waiver at any time a flight is contemplated
at night (as defined above). True or False

7. At night, the ability to see an object in the center of the visual field is reduced as the
cones lose much of their sensitivity and the rods become more sensitive. Looking
___________ can help compensate for this night blind spot.

8. _______ cells are used primarily for day or high-intensity light vision.

9. The ______ are used for night or low-intensity light vision

10. ____________ is the adjustment of the human eye to a dark environment. That
adjustment takes longer depending on the amount of ______ in the environment that a
person has just left

11. The ______ can take approximately 30 minutes to fully adapt to darkness. A bright
light, however, can completely destroy __________, leaving night vision severely
compromised while the adaptation process is repeated.

12. ___________ techniques are very important in identifying objects at night. To _____
effectively, pilots must look from right to left or left to right.

13. Off-_______ viewing is another type of scan that pilots can use during night flying. It
is a technique that requires an object be viewed by looking 10° above, below, or to
either side of the object. In this manner, the ________ vision can maintain contact with
an object.

14. With off-center vision, the images of an object viewed longer than 2 to 3 seconds
will disappear. To overcome this night vision limitation, pilots must be aware of the
phenomenon and avoid viewing an object for longer than ____ or __ seconds.

15. Some of the steps PICs and VOs can take to protect their night vision are:
___________, ___________, ____________.

16. During night flying objects or terrain features ____ away from the observer appear
_________ on the horizon than those closer to the observer.

17. When a static light is stared at in the dark, the light appears to move. This is called

18. Night flight can be more fatiguing and stressful than day flight, and many self imposed
stressors can limit night vision. PICs and VOs can control this type of stress by
knowing the factors that can cause self-imposed stressors. Some of these factors:

19. Prior to flying at night, it is best to learn and know the ________ of the area in which
you are flying in. Study the area and know how to ________ your way through areas
that may pose a problem at night.

20. sUAS aircraft are required to have a method to increase conspicuity of the sUAS to
be seen at a minimum distance of 1 statute miles. TRUE or FALSE

PASSING SCORE 90%= 18 out of 20
The method that will be used to recognize when other aircraft (including other UAS) or people enter the operations area.

We will be using sight and sound, looking for aircraft lighting strobes and the red and green lighting that identify the orientation of the aircraft so we can act if required to avoid any aircraft that should some how make it into the space we propose operating in. Most aircraft (at least the ones I fly) give a pretty good heads up that they are approaching long before they can be seen, and if for some reason that does not warn us, we will be scanning the sky ( again just as I do when I fly Part 61) for other aircraft, and we will take appropriate avoidance maneuvers to avoid them

As for people, we will have people looking and listening for people who may somehow have wandered into our secured operational area. The lighting we will be using on the ground and our LZ will also illuminate the area.

My dogs also very good at identifying approaching people and will give me warning.

Other than that I can't do much other than using land mines and trip wires can I?

Please re-address and provide information as to the method that will be used to assure knowledge for all participants including the remote pilot

Everyone involved in my proposed night operations will be a Visual observer and trained and tested, the exception will be the Remote Pilot, and that is ME, nobody will operate my aircraft but me.

I have a 20 question test I require VO's to take, with 18 correct required to pass, and then there is a review of the incorrect answers in order to instruct them as to the correct way of doing things.
As I also have stated previously we will retain those tests for inspection if requested by the Regional Administrator or his/her designee.

I would think that after just completing a refresher course for my Part 61 written exam, that covered 60 hours and was taught by a CFI from the USDOT Volpe Center (PS I have flown sUAV's for the U.S.D.O.T ) that I have enough knowledge to operate my sUAV at night. I am familiar with Human Factors, Human Physiology, and have Part 61 night flights in my log book
Watching this is like watching the keystone cops.
You can't fly a drone 4 miles from a grass strip without calling, but you can fly a real airplane all over in that airspace without telling anyone.
You can get a commercial drone pilot's license without ever flying a drone.
Are the lawmakers trying to protect anyone other than themselves? I really do wonder sometimes.
All they are doing is covering themselves so that when a drone hits a plane, or hurts someone, there will be laws on the books to prosecute the drone driver.
my 2c
Looks like the old, "You didn't say a few things we want specifically mentioned, or didn't word it the way we want, but we won't tell you what those are. You have to guess what it is." bureaucracy nightmares. This is why people HATE government.
Geez. You should be allowed to fly around Area 51 if you are willing to jump through all those hoops.
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