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ManagingPrime

Drones and Skydiving

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46531351

It seems a given that in the near future there will be more and more drones in civilian airspace.

Any idea if the USPA is taking steps to keep them away from dropzone operations?

After a closer-than-i-would-like call with an airplane this weekend the thought of drones around skydiving operations is quite alarming.

Thoughts?

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While that may be true, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate that risk.

Other than keeping drones out of dropzone airspace, I'm not sure what steps could be taken to mitigate the risk of a collision with a drone.

Seems that the FAA is currently looking at the risk of collisions between commercial aircraft and drones and how to manage that risk. It would be nice if our representatives at the USPA could at least send a friendly note to the FAA.

Even one incident would be one to many if something as simple as programing in a no-go zone could have avoided it.

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Just another type of aircraft, and it sounds like the FAA is already considering the implications of widespread civilian use. I'm not sure precisely where USPA would add any value above and beyond what the FAA would do in this case, since managing civilian airspace is the FAA's purview.

And I agree with the previous post that while we shouldn't ignore the risks of aircraft (that is one of the reasons we spot, and you do spot, don't you?), another parachutist is a far greater risk to you than any other aircraft.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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There are already FAA rules to keep them away from airports



Good to know.

I hope that rule stays in place. However, I'm doubtful as I expect A LOT of private companies and law enforcement agencies will be purchasing drones for commercial and law enforcement use and they will want airport access.

http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=6287

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Where's Jeff Nebelkopf and the XRW crew when you need them? This could be XRW 2.0...seeking out, and docking with an unmanned aircraft then escaping before you're shot down.

Mmmmm...wingsuiter target practice for military training.

Most drones fly well above civilian airspace. The ones that don't won't be going far from home as they tend to be limited range (ie: within city limits)

I wouldn't be too concerned...yet.
"When once you have tasted flight..."

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>After a closer-than-i-would-like call with an airplane this weekend the thought of
>drones around skydiving operations is quite alarming.

Why? Neither a private pilot nor a drone will see you coming, so they are about equal in terms of risk to skydivers. Your best tools to prevent collisions with them are your own eyes.

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If I understand the OP’s question, the thinking is along this line of thought.

Suppose in the near future in order to operate a drone aircraft, the aircraft navigation system must read and comply with an AFF database of where it can or cannot fly. This is not farfetched since I think all will have some type of built in computer control/pilot system. Certainly we want the drowns to avoid restricted space around government buildings and such.

So, why not lobby to have dropzones included as a “no fly area”?

It is not a question of, “Is this risk a worry to be contended with while jumping”. It is a question of small risk or near zero risk. Doesn’t it make sense to remove a risk if we have the ability to?
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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Even one incident would be one to many if something as simple as programing in a no-go zone could have avoided it.



I hate that this sport has such a short memory. There have already been multiple mid-airs between canopies and what are now called drones. Though back in the day we just called them RC planes w/ cameras.

Close flyby's were actually shaping up as something of a novel sport until one collision with a tandem (IIRC) resulted in a seriously damaged canopy at v-low altitude.

-Blind
"If you end up in an alligator's jaws, naked, you probably did something to deserve it."

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While wingsuiting in San Diego about 7 years ago I crossed paths with an unmanned drone midway through the skydive. I think at closest approach it would have been between 50-100metres away. No real chance of collision but it does reduce the big sky theory.

Fortunately I picked it up much earlier, but for the life of me I could not figure out what kind of aircraft is was for ages (I was starting at it for awhile)

I was last out of the otter, as I recall about a minute after everyone else. So I would think it is possible, just not very likely.
"Don't blame malice for what stupidity can explain."

"In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our despair, against our will comes wisdom" - Aeschylus

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Drones (UAVs) were sighted twice at Skydive Pepperell (MA) this weekend, reportedly hovering at about 60' over the windblades that mark the perimeter of our landing area. Potentially serious hazard to skydivers and jump aircraft. Info passed along by a Load Organizer/AFF Instructor. DZO notified FAA.

Any other DZs encountered this problem lately? What steps are you taking to combat the problem?

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DougH

10 dollars that it was another skydiver or a tandem waiting to jump, they probably didn't even consider the risk, so posting signs will solve the problem.



Pretty sure it was not skydivers. It's a common place for people to fly model airplanes when the DZ is not jumping. The AFFI in question saw a car leaving from the other end of the field when he went over to talk to them. They flew directly across the field with skydivers under canopy at 2000' or so.

I was right there and didn't even notice them but several other folks saw them.

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Software may be the answer.
Since 90 percent of jumps are made at licensed airports and the rest are made at DZs that are marked on old-school paper pilot maps (WACs), it is easy to incorporate that data into GPS-linked auto-pilots in drones, quad-copters, etc.
We do not need to worry about law enforcement or professional surveyors flying drones in Class F airspace (fires, drop zones, military bombing ranges, etc.) because Class F airspace has always been forbidden to all aircraft except mission-specific airplanes that have ATC permission to enter. Sadly, few civilian purchasers of drones, quad-copters, etc. have the first clue about Federal Air Regulations and they bumble in front of police helicopters, air ambulances, water-bombers, etc.
Sadly, this summer several forest-fires raged out of control (in British Columbia) while waster-bomber pilots refused to share airspace with drones flown by news media or bumbling amateurs.
A few years ago, some dz.commers were struggling to convince a major seller of electronic pilot maps (Jeppeson) to include DZs in the maps they sell to pilots. Those maps were promptly loaded into the GPS moving map displays that are now the norm in airplanes.
The next step is convincing drone operators to add GPS software to their auto-pilots. One drone manufacturer has already offered to incorporate no-fly zones into its software.
Next week, new drone buyers will angrily complain that their new drone is =+*^%#¥£€€! broken because it refused to over-fly the local airport at 200 feet!
Hah!
Hah!

The next challenge will be to incorporate short-term NOTAMs into quad-copter navigation software.

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ManagingPrime

Any idea if the USPA is taking steps to keep them away from dropzone operations?



Long after you made your original post, but topical, and there are recent replies:

http://www.uspa.org/USPAMembers/Safety/TheUSPAProfessional/tabid/78/ctl/Detail/mid/1452/xmid/41842/xmfid/42/Default.aspx

When it was first published I took exception to the phrase "According to the FAA, all drone and model operators are to avoid flying within five miles of an airport without the approval of the airport manager..." because I interpret the (current) regulations as requiring notification, not just avoidance.

See the link in the article for the document "FAA's Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft".

Really, now, is it too much to ask of a model aircraft pilot to at least tell the airport manager (or DZO as a courtesy) that they will be flying these models nearby?

What's the worst they could be told? "When you see parachutes open, please land your model, and then you can take off again after all the parachutes have landed."

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As a long time model airplane flyer (and drones for the past 5 years), I have flown UAVs at Z Hills, Raeford, Skydive Chicago and Chicagoland Skydiving.

In each case I asked for and got approval from the DZO, and I only fly when no jump planes or skydivers are in the air (that is, during weather holds or other shut-downs).

Not a great burden on me, and it just seems the safe way to operate.
...

The only sure way to survive a canopy collision is not to have one.

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