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NPPA Hires Firm to Lobby FAA Over Drone Regulations

drone_APThe Hill reports, the National Press Photographers Association has hired the law firm of Holland & Knight to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration over drone use for journalists.

The photojournalist group has hired two former House staffers working at the Holland & Knight law firm to lobby on the flying machines, technically known as unmanned aerial systems, as the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) prepares to issue new draft rules.

In February, the two launched a study on the use of drones in news gathering.

On its website, Holland & Knight claims to have a “cutting-edge Drone Practice Team” which “puts the firm in the vanguard of advising clients on compliance with existing and developing federal regulations, as well as the evolving safety and privacy issues associated with the non-military use of drones.”

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Buffalo Snow Drone Captures New York Snowstorm From the Air

Buffalo stations were able to give viewers the softer side of the aftermath of Lake Effect snow with video shot by Jim Grimaldi’s drone.

The local drone pilot didn’t go far enough or high enough to trigger any action from the FAA, but he did give WIVB and WGRZ some nice bump video showing how a snowstorm can change a neighborhood. WKBW featured the video on its website. Check it out.

NTSB Sides with FAA. Drones are Aircraft

FAAAttention drone operators! Drones are aircraft regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and you will be held accountable for reckless romps through airspace, scaring birds, commercial jet pilots and police helicopters.

The National Transportation Safety Board yesterday agreed with the FAA that unmanned aircraft systems “meet the legal definition of ‘aircraft’ and that the agency may take enforcement action against anyone who operates a UAS or model aircraft in a careless or reckless manner.”

Yesterday’s ruling overturns an NTSB administrative law judge’s previous decision saying the FAA was wrong when it fined Raphael Pirker $10,000 for flying his drone over the University of Virginia in 2011. Read more

Here’s Another Thing Your Drone Should Avoid

We’ve already showed you drones should avoid airports, police helicopters, the FAA and NHL rallies. Now, we find out drones and hawks are not fast friends. Watch the video.


FAA Allows Six Film Companies to Use Drones

drone_AP_croppedThe Federal Aviation Administration is allowing six film companies to use drones during production.

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance.”

This is the second time an exemption from the FAA’s ban on commercial use has been granted. In June, the agency allowed an oil company to fly drones to monitor its operations in Alaska.

According to the FAA press release, “the firms had to show their UAS operations would not adversely affect safety, or would provide at least an equal level of safety to the rules from which they seek the exemptions.”

In their applications, the firms said the operators will hold private pilot certificates, keep the UAS within line of sight at all times and restrict flights to the “sterile area” on the set. In granting the exemption, FAA accepted these safety conditions, adding an inspection of the aircraft before each flight, and prohibiting operations at night. The agency also will issue Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) that mandate flight rules and timely reports of any accident or incidents. Read more

All Across America, It’s Raining Drones

Valleywag reports some drone owners are discovering their unmanned aerial vehicles are more HAL 9000 than DJI Phantom.

All across America, drones are crashing into trees and rooftops. The $500-plus dollar skytoys are frequently flying away from their owners, landing in lakes and marshes and urban neighborhoods, never to be found again. Lost drone posters line residential neighborhoods like the missing dog fliers of yore.

Have you seen America’s drones? “People complain about ‘flyaways’ on the forums all the time,” one drone owner tells Valleywag. Flyaways happen when drones either lose contact with its remote or simply fly away inexplicably, with the failsafe, which is supposed to return the drone “home” in case of failure, also malfunctioning. Read more

Man Detained After Drone Flies Over NFL Game

Here’s another story for the “Drones Behaving Badly” file.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they questioned a man who flew a drone over Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium during a Carolina Panthers NFL preseason game on August 17.

The Charlotte Observer reports, the man was released and the FAA was notified.

Invasion of Panther airspace is banned by both the NFL and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We have leaguewide policies that prohibit any type of drone in parking lots or in stadiums,” said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman.

He said he was not aware of drones invading any other NFL venues.

“We are closely monitoring this issue with our clubs,” McCarthy said.

Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC tried to explain the drone problem to its viewers in the video above.

[The Hill]

Two Drone Incidents Have LA Police Calling for Regulations

drone_AP_croppedThe Los Angeles Times reports two drone incidents have local police adding their voice to those calling on the FAA to hurry up and issue regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles.

In the first incident on Aug. 4, police said a personal drone was spotted by a Canadian jetliner hovering about 10 miles east of LAX at 4,000 feet – an altitude outside Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for hobbyists with drones and and also within the airport’s Class B air space.

To fly that high and close to LAX brings with it a host of responsibilities, including having a transponder on the aircraft and two-way communication with air traffic controllers, federal officials said.

Los Angeles police learned of the drone when the airline pilot asked air traffic controllers if it was a police drone. The LAPD’s two drones are locked away in a federal building and have not been used.

In the second incident, employees on the LAPD’s 10thfloor on the northwest side of the building said they looked out their window Aug. 14 to see a drone hovering outside their window. Read more

FAA Says Final Drone Test Site Ready to Go

drone_AP_croppedThe Federal Aviation Administration today anounced the last of six test sites is “ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace.”

To celebrate the occasion, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, along with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and other officials, watched a drone demo at the Virginia Tech site.

“We have undertaken the challenge of safely integrating a new and exciting technology into the busiest, most complex airspace in the world,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The six test sites are going to play a key role in helping us meet that challenge.” Read more

Despite Park Ban on Drones, Tourist Crashes One into Yellowstone Hot Spring

drone_AP_croppedIn our continuing effort to keep our TVSpy readership up-to-date on the latest trend that may fly its way into every local station in the US, we bring you the cautionary tale of the tourist who defied a ban on drones at Yellowstone National Park and then crashed said drone into one of the iconic hot springs.

The Billings Gazette reports the drone is now deep within the 160 degree waters of the Grand Prismatic spring.

“Our concern is about any potential impacts to the iconic Yellowstone thermal feature,” Nash said.

Grand Prismatic is known for its vivid colors and measures 300 feet across.

Nash says few details are being released because the incident is under investigation. Read more