Ireland: Only 80 out of 4,000 drones are licensed by users


By Conall Ó Fátharta Irish Examiner Reporter

The figures were revealed as the the Unmanned Aircraft Association of Ireland (UAAI) hosted their inaugural open day at the Meet the Drones’ showcase event at Weston Airport in Lucan in Dublin.

The event, sponsored by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), highlighted a number of key issues in relation to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – or drones – in use here including safety requirements, new developments in enforcement, regulation, data protection and privacy. It is estimated there are 4,000 drones in use in Ireland and the sector is growing at a significant rate.

Any person who wishes to operate a RPAS for commercial purposes must obtain permission to fly, and an aerial work permit from the IAA, before operating in Irish airspace.

Ireland is currently one of only six EU countries that has legislation governing the use of drones. The vast majority of drones are being used by the hobbyist community and just 80 RPAS users have secured permission to fly from the IAA for commercial operations, such as aerial photography, site surveying or filming.

A recent study carried out by Eurocontrol and EuroCAE on behalf of the director general for enterprise within the EU Commission, has predicted that by 2017 some 70,000 jobs will be sustained by the RPAS industry with an annual turnover of €14bn. Chairwoman of the UAAI, Capt Julie Garland, said Ireland could be a global hub for drone development.

“The UAAI aims to promote the safe and successful integration of unmanned aircraft into Irish airspace. Our organisation is dedicated to promoting RPAS with emphasis on safety, training and regulation. We are really delighted with the support of the IAA as this industry has the potential to position Ireland as a global hub for drone development.

“We’re also very pleased with the strong interest that Minister Donohoe has shown today as a sign of his support for helping to develop this sector as a worldwide centre of excellence for RPAS technology,” she said.

Director of safety regulation with the IAA, Ralph James, said safety was the number one priority in relation to the use of drones.

Safety is the IAA’s number one priority and we want to highlight that there are rules in place to help ensure the safe operation of this evolving aviation technology. At the same time, Ireland is well placed to exploit this sector,” he said.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the surge in the use of drones meant that privacy was an issue that needed to be examined.

“This whole area is going to experience gigantic growth and while Ireland is well ahead in terms of what needs to be done to regulate drones, there’s a real need for Ireland and Europe to look at what laws we need in relation to privacy and security and how different drones can be regulated,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says the online retail giant is still firmly committed to its plan of delivering goods via drone within 30 minutes. However, on the timescale he admitted that “months sounds way too aggressive to me, so the timescale is measured in years”.

Senator to introduce proposal for mandatory drone geofencing

By John Ribeiro

CMU Crossmobile drone

CMU Crossmobile drone
Credit: Carnegie Mellon University
Schumer is concerned about so many near-collisions of drones flying into planes

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is to introduce a proposal soon that aims to make geofencing of drones mandatory, following a number of reports of close shaves between the unmanned aircraft and regular planes.

The geofencing of drones would use GPS and other technology to impose geographical limits on their movement.

Schumer said Wednesday he would propose an amendment as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill that must move through Congress this fall, to require manufacturers to have in place geofencing technology “or other similar solutions” on all drones to prevent them from flying in prohibited zones like airports.

The amendment is necessary as reports suggest that the FAA’s current policy will be extended through at least 2016 without a provision for geofencing, Schumer said.

The technology already exists for preventing drones from flying into unauthorized areas. DJI, the manufacturer of the drone that crashed on the lawn of the White House in January, announced soon after that it would release firmware that would add a no-fly zone around much of Washington.

Concern has been increasing about possible collisions between rogue drones, flown by hobbyists and enthusiasts, and traditional aircraft. By FAA rules, hobbyist drones cannot weigh more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms), and have to be flown at below 400 feet (about 122 meters), within visual sight of the operator, and 5 miles (8 kilometers) away from airports.

But the FAA rules have often been breached. Data released by the FAA last week said that pilot sightings of drones have picked up from 238 throughout 2014, to more than 650 in a little over seven months of this year. And 138 pilots, flying a variety of aircraft including large commercial air carriers, said they had seen drones at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet during the month of June, and another 137 pilots had similar experiences to report in July. The corresponding numbers for June and July last year were 16 and 36, respectively.

Last month, drones were found obstructing the fighting of a wildfire in California, to apparently shoot videos. As of July 31, there were nearly 10 reported near-collisions involving drones and airplanes in the New York metro area, according to Schumer. Three of these incidents happened at John F. Kennedy International Airport, four were at Newark Internation Airport and all involved passenger jets carrying hundreds of people, he added.

The FAA proposed rules earlier this year that could allow programs like those of for the commercial delivery of packages by drones to take off. But the drones will still have to operate under restrictions such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds and follow rules that limit flights to daylight and visual line-of-sight operations.



FAA warns UAS operators to stay away from manned aircraft

By Patrick C. Miller | August 20, 2015
  • Because of an increase in drone sightings by pilots, the FAA is warning UAS operators that flying drones near manned aircraft is dangerous and illegal.

Concerned about an increase in pilots reporting encounters with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants drone pilots to understand that operating their aircraft around manned aircraft is dangerous and illegal.

While the FAA said unauthorized UAS operators can face stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time, catching them remains problematic.

FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told UAS Magazine: “As you can appreciate, it’s a challenge when we get a pilot report and sometimes the report is not very specific. Even when it is specific—say the pilot says ‘I saw a quadcopter 200 feet off my port wing and I was 3.5 miles from the end of the runway’—that’s still a pretty big area in which to try to identify the operator.”

Dorr described the action the agency takes in such circumstances.

“What we would typically do is notify the appropriate law enforcement organization and have them try to see if they could identify the operator—but it is a challenge,” he added.

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said the organization supports enforcement action against careless and reckless UAS operators who violate restricted airspace.

“Stricter enforcement will not only punish irresponsible operators, it will also serve as a deterrent to others who may misuse the technology,” he noted.

Last year, the FAA said it received a total of 238 UAS sightings from pilots, but this year had received 650 such reports by early August. The agency said it has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has dozens of open enforcement cases.

Asked how many and what types of penalties the FAA has levied, Dorr checked with the FAA’s general counsel, and responded: “We have initiated more than 20 enforcement cases. We have settled five cases in which operators paid civil penalties. We have proposed penalties in at least five other cases. Several of the cases involve UAS operating near other aircraft.”

The FAA said pilots reported seeing 16 unmanned aircraft in June of 2014, and 36 the following month. This year, 138 pilots reported seeing drones at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet during the month of June, and another 137 in July.

In addition, the agency said firefighters battling wildfires in the western U.S. have been forced to halt operations on several occasions for safety reasons when they spotted one or more unmanned aircraft in their immediate vicinity.

Wynne called on the FAA to finalize its small UAS rules, which would require all UAS operators to follow the safety programming of a community-based organization or abide by new UAS rules for commercial operators.

“Once the rules are finalized, consumers will no longer be able to fly without any oversight or education,” he said.

The FAA said it will continue to work closely with industry partners through the “Know Before You Fly” campaign to educate UAS users about where they can operate within the rules. The agency is also supporting the National Interagency Fire Center’s “If You Fly, We Can’t” efforts to help reduce interference with firefighting operations.

The agency also said it’s working closely with the law enforcement community to identify and investigate unauthorized unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA encourages the public to report unauthorized drone operations to local law enforcement and help discourage dangerous, illegal UAS activity.

Researchers want to make license plates for drones


A drone flies over a ravine as the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office demonstrates a search and rescue operation, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Dublin, Calif.
Image: AP Photo/Noah Berger
The rapid rise of amateur-piloted drones has created somewhat of a regulatory nightmare. Countless reports of pilots spotting drones near airports as well as the recent fracas over drones impeding firefighters are testament to that.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are attempting to tackle this issue with license plates reports Technology Review.

Well, they’re not really license plates the way we know them.

The researchers call their invention LightCense and they use multicolored LED lights mounted to the underside of an Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) that flash in a unique pattern. This pattern can be decoded by a smartphone app, specially designed cameras or memorized by a person, though that last one seems a little less likely.

Aislan Foina, director of the Cal Unmanned lab at UC Berkley, says LightCense was inspired by automotive license plates, despite the differences in how they work. He and his team consider drones as being more related to cars than aircraft, which makes sense given their small size and (relatively) large numbers.


Image: LightCense

As of right now, there are no definitive plans to bring this tech to market, but Foina would like to see it go commercial at some point.


UAV regulation has been a major issue with the proliferation of affordable consumer drones.

UAV regulation has been a major issue with the proliferation of affordable consumer drones. Pilots at JFK recently had three separate close calls with UAVs flying in no-fly-zones in just one weekend.Drones are also posing a large threat to firefighters in California. The state’s chief of the Department of Forestry and Fire said that UAVs cause “immediate danger” to firefighting pilots in a recent press conference, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Many places, notably airports, are marked as no-fly zones but it’s almost impossible for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prevent drones from flying in these areas. Due to the large amount of UAVs flying at any given time, the regulation for drones would need to be automated, in contrast with the FAA’s human-operated Air Traffic Control.

A proposal from NASA and Verizon would require all drones to connect to the Internet, enabling the ability for “geofencing.” Amazon — which is trying to start up a drone delivery service — also released a similar plan that would require non-Internet connected drones to fly below 200 feet. The appeal of LightCense is that it could be retrofitted to drones that aren’t connected to the Internet.

Assuming the proposal goes forward, LightCense could be a good way to keep older drones in the sky.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Cops bust hobbyist flying drone near Manhattan Bridge


By Larry Celona

Cops busted a hobbyist flying a drone near the FDR Drive on Thursday and slapped him with a summons, police sources said.

Ramon Lopez, 28, of California was nabbed by authorities as he was flying a white drone on South Street near Jefferson Street in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, according to sources.

Lopez was hit with a summons for violating a law governing “aviation in and over” the city.

FAA considering new drone registration rules



The Department of Transportation is reviewing whether the FAA has the authority to require drones be registered at their point of sale, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told CBS News on Friday.

“That’s what we’re looking at, the question is what can we do on our own and where do we need Congress to intervene,” said Foxx. “The administration has an interagency group working on this, that includes the Department of Homeland Security and other departments that will be focused on this.”

Requiring people to register their drone at the point of sale would provide “at least some ability to track it back if we find that they are violating some FAA rule,” Foxx said. “That’s just one example of the type of thing that we are exploring.”

Currently, drones are considered hobby aircraft and are exempt from registration because they are supposed to be operated below 400 feet. As CBS has reported, airspace rules are being widely violated. As first reported by CBS News, a record of at least 650 drone sightings have been reported by pilots so far this year. That’s compared to 238 in all of 2014.

“The FAA needs the ability to set clear rules for when and where consumers can fly drones, require manufacturers to install basic technological safeguards and ensure consumers receive safety information,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who has introduced a bill to regulate drone use. The near tripling of aircraft-done encounters number “should sound the alarm,” she said.

In a statement to CBS News, Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, called for better enforcement of existing rules.

“Unmanned aircraft systems shouldn’t fly close to airports, or manned aircraft or above 400 feet,” he said. “These are common-sense guidelines, but many new UAS enthusiasts aren’t taking the time to understand where they should and shouldn’t fly. Any individual who misuses UAS technology, or uses it in a careless and reckless manner, should be held accountable. The FAA needs to enforce its existing rules if a UAS endangers manned aircraft or people on the ground. ”

One the biggest challenges to the drone issue is catching the operator.

“While we can identify a drone in the air, tracking that drone back to who is controlling it is an enforcement problem that we have,” Foxx said.

Foxx said there are, in fact, at least federal two teams studying the drone issue. In addition to the inter-agency team that includes Transportation Department officials, DHS officials and the national security world, the Department of Transportation has its own working group studying what action it can take immediately. Foxx says he’s hoping to hear the findings of the DOT team in weeks, not months — but bottom line, Foxx said, is that enforcement is coming.

“We’ve assembled an internal team to spend a lot of time and energy looking at our authority to figure out, you know, what is the most aggressive way that we can deal with this issue,” said Foxx.

Stricter enforcement of drone laws will be a move away from an almost exclusive FAA focus on educating drone operators about the rules. Since 2011, the agency has issued just five fines with three more pending for drone use. Another 22 investigations remain open.

Foxx expects drone manufacturers will step up their education efforts and says the agency is looking at geofencing as a possible remedy manufacturers could build into their devices. Geofencing would be software limiting how high a drone could fly and how close it could get to restricted airspace, including airports.

“Geofencing has its benefits and, if manufacturers want to incorporate geofencing into their software, we support them. But as attractive as technology solutions may be, they are no substitute for education,” said Wynne. “The operator is responsible for the safety of an aircraft, whether it’s manned or unmanned.”

In an on-camera interview Tuesday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta called the at least 13 incidents of drones disrupting wildfire firefighting efforts in California a “game changer.” He confirmed that discussions about stronger enforcement and the potential need for new regulations are underway. He added the conversation includes law enforcement officials.

“We are looking at all of the above,” he said. “Let’s go back to few years ago — we had a significant problem with lasers around airports, so we joined together with our law enforcement partners to address lasers being pointed at airplanes. That’s what we are doing with unmanned aircraft, bringing together all of our law enforcement partners.”

Huerta was referencing the 2014 FBI effort to crack down on laser strikes against aircraft that has resulted in some arrests.

The latest effort, he said, incorporates “bringing together all of the industry who is trying to find ways to safely integrate unmanned aircraft, working with our field teams who are responsible for enforcing aviation laws, and reaching out to the public to make sure they know this is an extremely unsafe thing to be doing.”

Despite that FBI crackdown, laser strikes reported by pilots are on pace to set a new all-time record. As of July 17, there had been 3,051 reported.

Chatham Township Committee Considers Drone Ordinance


August 14, 2015

CHATHAM, NJ – The Chatham Township Committee discussed introducing an ordinance on first reading that would regulate the use of drones and unmanned aircraft , but decided against taking any action at its regular meeting held Thursday night.

Mayor Kevin Sullivan explained that since the township purchased Giralda Farms Park, he wanted to comply with a request from the Morris County Parks Commission and adopt guidelines they set in regard to drones in county parks.

The ordinance would have regulated drone use below 400 feet. Anything above that is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Committee members Bob Gallop and Curt Ritter both expressed opinions that the committee shouldn’t proposed a law when there isn’t a drone problem in Chatham Township.

Thomas Ciccarone, township administrator, brought up the point that, in addition to privacy issues, there could be a safety issue with people flying drones and unmanned aircraft in public parks.


Township attorney Albert E. Cruz was asked to come up with wording that would concentrate on the launching of drones in public spaces. A new ordinance on the subject is likely to be a topic of discussion at the Sept. 10 committee meeting.

Mayor Sullivan talks about meeting regulations for drones set by the Morris County Parks Association in regard to Giralda Farms Park in Chatham Township.

Committee member Bob Gallop cautions on moving to quickly on something that isn’t a problem at this time.

Thomas Ciccarone, township administrator, pointed out that it could become a safety issue for Chatham residents if drones are not regulated in public parks.

Chatham Township Police Chief Steve Hennelly expressed that it would be a good idea to have regulations on the books in case the issue came up.




San Jose City Council to Vote on Pilot Program for Police Drone

Concerned that pilot reports of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have grown dramatically over the past year, the FAA is stepping up its warnings of potential fines and jail time for unauthorized uses.

In July, pilots reported 137 incidents compared with 36 for the same month in 2014.

The Dallas Morning News reports at least two of the 238 incidents were in Dallas.

The Air Line Pilots Association supports additional regulations on small drones that require registering the devices and installing automatic software blocking flights into prohibited areas, Canoll said.

The reports of drones spotted near traditional aircraft come from pilots on private planes and helicopters, as well as crews aboard airliners, according to an FAA release.

Officers talked with the drone operator, who told them he owns a drone business and was just flying the drone. One contributing factor, Feith said, is that drones are easy to get and not enough drone enthusiasts understand the rules.

“How do we make sure these drones are not recording things that they shouldn’t”, Calo says, “and those things aren’t winding up… on Amazon servers, or somehow getting out to the public or to law enforcement?” State Assemblyman Mike Gatto says, given that, “imagine a drone which is made of metal and hard plastic and how damaging that can be to a firefighting aircraft”.

If approved by the FAA, police could start using the drone in 2017.

The agency now gets several reports a day of drones flying too close to planes and helicopters, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said in an interview.

The rules are more liberal for hobbyists and those using UAS for recreational purposes, but they are still required to fly their unmanned aircraft, which can not weigh more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms), at below 400 feet (about 122 meters), within visual sight of the operator, and 5 miles (8 kilometers) away from airports.

The FAA recently passed a milestone of 1,000 permits granted to businesses to fly drones for aerial photography, to monitor pipelines and electrical transmission towers, and to inspect smokestacks, crops and the undersides of bridges, among other uses. As for how they fly, we learn that if a drone’s remote pilot loses control, the UAV’s Global Positioning System automatically returns to its home base.

“The FAA has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has dozens of open enforcement cases”.