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Drone

California Firefighters Ground Civilian Drone Shooting Wildfire

drone_AP_croppedA drone shooting video of a California wildfire was grounded because fire officials feared it might interfere with efforts to contain the blaze burning near Sacramento, CA.

A California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times, the owner of the unmanned vehicle was asked by Sheriff’s Deputies to stop flying the drone to keep it away from the low-flying aircraft being used to fight the Sand fire.

The owner was apparently operating the craft, described as a “quadcopter,” so he could “check out the fire” for his “own personal entertainment,” she said.

It was the first time CalFire had encountered such a device during their firefighting efforts, [CalFire spokesperson Lynne] Tolmachoff said. But she expects it won’t be the last.

“I anticipate it possibly being a problem in the future,” she said. Read more

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Congressman Being Investigated for Wedding Video Shot by Drone

wedding video droneRep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) is being investigated by the FAA for his wedding video which featured footage shot by a drone.

Maloney is a member of the Aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees the FAA.

The New York Daily News is taking credit for alerting the FAA to the drone use.

The inquiry is the result of a report in the Daily News that said the use of the helicopter-like drone appeared to violate a prohibition against flying drones for commercial purposes.

“The FAA is looking into a report of an unmanned aircraft operation in Cold Spring, N.Y. on June 21 to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions,” the agency said Thursday in a statement.

Maloney hired a New Jersey based aerial photography company to shoot the video. The company told the Daily News Maloney didn’t have FAA permission to use the drone.

Recent Near Misses with Helicopters Call Drone Safety into Question

Three drones in one week have raised safety concerns about the unnamed aerial vehicles after close calls with helicopters in New York and Cleveland.

In New York, officers piloting an NYPD chopper felt threatened enough by two drones flying over the George Washington Bridge to have the operators arrested.

The New York Post reported, “The NYPD pilots ‘observed flying object[s] at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, then circling heading toward the helicopter,’’ a police report said. ‘The officers were forced to change their course to avoid a collision.’ One source called it a ‘very dangerous” scenario.’”

While in Cleveland a drone possibly violated a temporary flight restriction and came within 50 yards of a helicopter flying at 1700 feet. Drones are only allowed to fly as high as 400 feet. Read more

DOT Warns FAA Facing ‘Significant Barriers’ to Clearing Drones for Use

DOT SEAL-BLUE 286The Department of Transportation was asked by some members of Congress to check in on the FAA to see if the agency was going to meet the September 2015 deadline for safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System.

With almost a year to go for overall approval, the DOT says things aren’t looking so good.

As far as small drones go, the ones most likely to be used by local TV stations, the report stated the FAA won’t meet its August deadline to issue its final ruling on their use. According to the audit, “FAA officials indicated that privacy concerns have been the primary contributor to this recent delay.”

The DOT audit also outlined two areas of concern for overall drone use.

First, because there are no pilots on board, a UAS cannot comply with the “see and avoid” requirements that underpin operational safety in the NAS. However, there is currently a lack of a mature UAS technology capable of automatically detecting other aircraft operating in nearby airspace and successfully maneuvering to avoid them. Experts we interviewed stated that “detect and avoid” is the most pressing technical challenge to integration. Read more

After Using Drone Footage in Story, New York FOX Station Asks if It’s Legal

In its 10:00 p.m. news last night, New York’s WNYW used drone footage as part of a story about a small plane crash on Long Island. Then the FOX owned station looked into the legality of using unmanned aerial vehicles to cover the news.

“When I heard that the police helicopters and news choppers couldn’t get video footage of what was going on because of the cloud cover that was today,” Nick Borella, the guy who used his drone to shoot the plane crash, told WNYW’s Stacey Delikat. “I thought that I would get over and have a chance to help them out any way that I could because I could fly in that.”

WNYW’s admission it didn’t pay for the footage did two things, it furthered the conversation about drone usage and according to Brendan Schulman, an attorney who runs the unmanned aircraft system group for law firm Kramer Levin, cleared them of any wrongdoing since the FAA only frowns on commercial use.

The question raised? Does this change anything for drone operators looking to get paid for their work?

LA Kings Fans Knock Drone Out Of the Air

Let this be a cautionary tale to all those news directors out there who can’t wait to loose unmanned aerial vehicles above throngs of celebrating sports fans thinking they’ll inhabit a world free from nudity, profanity and possible physical harm.

LA Kings fans, celebrating their team’s recent Stanley Cup win, managed to “shoot down” a drone with nothing more than what may have been a water bottle and a t-shirt.

Forbes reported both the drone’s operator and its attackers may face legal punishment. Click Read More to see the detailed reason why it’s dangerous to fly drones over crowds and also to knock them out of the air. Read more

Three Down, Three to Go: FAA Announces Next Site for Drone Tests

FAA_304Desert Rock Airport in Mercury, NV, is the third drone testing site to get the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA granted the State of Nevada team a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport located in Mercury, NV. Desert Rock Airport, owned and operated by the Department of Energy, is a private airport and not for general use. The ScanEagle will fly at or below 3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander. Initial flights will verify that a UAS can operate safely at the airport.

The Desert Rock site is the third of six Congressionally mandated test sites to get the green light.

“Nevada has been on the leading edge of aerospace flight testing for almost 70 years,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, the state continues that tradition by contributing to the safe and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft into the U.S. aviation system.”

Drone Hits St. Louis Office Building, Police and FAA Looking for Owner

drone_AP_304A remotely piloted quadcopter crashed into a downtown St. Louis skyscraper Monday.

While the story doesn’t directly involve a local TV station (as far as we know right now) it does highlight the dangers of unmanned aerial vehicles. TVSpy has been covering stories like this since UAV’s are being eyed and sometimes used by many local TV stations.

St. Louis police and the FAA are looking for the person who was piloting the DJI Phantom II which was found by security guards on the 30th floor of the Met Square building. The drone had an HD camera attached. Watch KSDK’s report on the drone after the jump. Read more

Media Organizations Challenge FAA Ban on Drones for News

drone_AP_304Saying the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t understand what journalists do, more than a dozen media organizations challenged the FAA’s ban on using drones for news gathering.

The Associated Press reports the group, including the AP, filed a brief with the NTSB in support of aerial photographer Raphael Pirker who was fined $10,000 for using his drone to shoot a commercial near the University of Virginia.

>RELATED: Watch “The Disruptive Technology of Drones in Newsgathering”

“The FAA’s position is untenable as it rests on a fundamental misunderstanding about journalism,” read a brief filed by the group with the NTSB. “News gathering is not a ‘business purpose.’ It is a First Amendment right.”

“This brief, filed by the country’s leading news organizations, supports the proposition we have argued that federal agencies must consult with the public before banning the use of new technologies that have many beneficial purposes,” said attorney Brendan Schulman, who is representing Pirker. “The argument becomes even stronger when First Amendment considerations are taken into account.”

Other media groups participating in the brief are Advance Publications Inc., Cox Media Group, Gannett Co., Gray Television Inc., Hearst Corporation, The McClatchy Company, the National Press Photographers Association, The National Press Club, The New York Times Company, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Radio-Television Digital News Association, Scripps Media Inc., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the Tribune Company and The Washington Post.

FAA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Disruptive Technology of Drones in Newsgathering

In the 50′s and 60′s we were promised a helicopter in every garage. Obviously, that never happened.

While Ian Hannah from the Professional Society of Drone Journalists stopped short of predicting a drone in every newsroom during last week’s TVNewser Show, he did talk about the confusion over regulations and added that unmanned aerial vehicles may soon be “very common” in newsrooms. Watch the film:

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