Sunday, November 16, 2014

Interesting Statistics Regarding the Little Camera Drones and Safety

Los Angeles, CA –Nearly everywhere there are some frightened members of Congress, various state legislatures and city councils that are considering ways to ban or severely regulate the little multi-rotor camera drones. 
Must we always adopt the Chicken Little fear that the sky is falling?
The FAA would like to expand their budget and manpower by at least tenfold or more to regulate every 12 year-old boy with a camera drone in America.  Can the FAA be trusted to not create or engage hysteria when they have so much to gain?  We all know the answer to that!
Pilots everywhere, especially those flying helicopters see the very clear handwriting on the wall.  Inexpensive and substantially safer drones will soon replace half of them. Careers are at stake here.  Should we be surprised those pilots are making the most noise condemning camera drone?  
Fighting camera and delivery drones through propaganda scare tactics is already in high gear.  We must educate politicians, business leaders, media and the public on the real facts. 
We now know that worldwide there are over a million little drones in the hands of the public.  That’s double the amount of all conventional aircraft. 
We know all too well that many millions of dollars and hundreds of lives are lost every year from conventional aircraft mishaps.
To date there has not been a single fatality or serious injury related to multi-rotor camera drones. 
I’d like to address Internet chatter from the camera drone user groups.  There are hundreds of passages exclaim that newbies, cowboys and lawless people are reeking havoc in the skies.  My favorite quote is, “They’re ruining it for everyone!” It that were the truth there would be collisions and at least some minimal evidence of this kind of conduct. 

What exists are tales including one claim by a NYPD helicopter pilot that he clocked the little drones at the speed of sound!  Considering they have a top speed of 35 MPH that's somewhat pitiful.
These camera drones all have the ultimate Black Box, that's the camera's memory chip that contains the video of the flight.  I submit that the drone's own video is more reliable than the fables and outright lies that have been told by some public officials.  

It’s a natural human condition to conjure up scenarios in our minds of bad behavior and tragic consequences.  What we must always remember here is even the cheaper camera drones are not really cheap. 
These drones are carefully guarded and cared for by their owners that don’t want to lose them to mishaps or impoundment by police.  
Drone operators all fly with friends and they are always advising each other on avoiding mistakes, piloting tips and proper etiquettes. They are in effect self-policing and regulating.    
The FAA, except for commercial use, does not now regulate the little drones.  The FAA had banned them from commercial use however that prohibition was struck down by a federal judge and is currently under appeal. 
The FAA is charged with safety and the drones have proven they do not compromise safety.  To date there has never been a known collision between a camera-drone and any conventional aircraft.
These days we hear sensational propaganda stories of near misses with planes and helicopters on a regular basis.   Add to that bogus claims that these drones somehow invade privacy have many Americans frightened, concerned and upset.
Satellites, surveillance, and cameras carried by helicopters have already stolen any privacy invasion thunder of the little drones.  Don’t forget the millions of cell-phone cameras that are in everyone’s pockets.  Cameras are here and the courts have consistently held that the First Amendment protects them.
If you don’t want to be photographed, put on your Foster Grants (sunglasses for those too young to remember that brand) and stay indoors.
If you own or lease property you can’t stop the prying eyes of aerial cameras.  Barbara Streisand found that out the hard way a few years back when a helicopter carrying a photographer snapped some pictures of her and her Malibu fortress and posted them on the Internet.  She immediately sued in court.  Not only did the singer loose but she had to pay more than a quarter million dollars to the hapless photographer.
Laws violating any portion of the Bill of Rights never stand a chance when challenged in court.  Shooting video from a camera drone over private or public property is absolutely constitutionally protected activity.   
Local bans are incredibly problematic in that tourists with drones will be ignorant of laws and even geography where its difficult to determine what jurisdiction where they are located.
Do we really want to jail and mark these people with lifelong criminal records for snapping a few pictures of our prettier parks, beaches, cities and villages?

The news media and filmmakers have already been using these things for image gathering over the more dangerous and excessively expensive helicopters.  They certainly have First Amendment rights needing protection.  

Insurance adjusters, real estate marketing and our farmers desperately need this technology for obvious reasons.  Arn't our grocery, insurance and housing cost high enough? 

If they are compelled to make rules here perhaps two current FAA guidelines are worthy of adoption.  Flying below 400 feet and avoiding airspace within five miles of an airport without control tower approval seems workable. 
Below you will find the estimated number of aircraft and helicopters worldwide:
  312,000     Active General Aviation Aircraft
  17,770     Passenger Aircraft
  89,129     Military Aircraft
  26,500     Civil Helicopters
  29,700     Military Helicopters.
According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association there are approximately 312,000 active general aviation aircraft worldwide.
General aviation (GA) is defined as all aviation other than scheduled commercial airlines and military aviation.
Over 312,000 general aviation aircraft including helicopters,
single-engine piston-powered airplanes, multi-engine turboprops, and intercontinental business jets are flying throughout the world.
Information provided by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association: General Aviation

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