FPV flyer faces investigation

Peggy Gilligan

sUAS News recently asked FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Peggy Gilligan about the First Person View flight undertaken in New York by Austrian Raphael Pirker.

As Associate Administrator, Ms. Gilligan leads the organization responsible for setting, overseeing, and enforcing safety standards for all parts of the aviation industry – airlines, manufacturers, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and any person or product that operates in aviation. These programs have a direct impact on every facet of domestic and international civil aviation safety.

We are very grateful that Ms Gilligan took the time to answer, heres what she said.

“This event remains under investigation by FAA as well as by some law enforcement organizations in the NYC area.  We do intend to notify the operator of the investigation — although I understand he is not a US citizen and we believe he is not in the US”

It will be interesting to see which particular rules may or may not have been broken during Trappys flight. We doubt very much if it will have any impact on the forthcoming SFAR 107 discussions.

Rich Hanson of the AMA had the following to say about the flight back in December

New York City First Person View Video

A recent video posted to YouTube depicts a First Person View (FPV) video flight of an unmanned aircraft over New York Bay; Long Island; the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges; Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty; over and in close proximity to buildings, occupied vehicles and water vessels; and directly over unprotected people. The nature of the flight was outside the realm of recreational aeromodeling activity as defined by the AMA Safety Code and posed a significant threat to people and property.

Although AMA recognizes the ingenuity and creativity of this activity, it does not condone the manner in which this flight was conducted and the threat it posed to the public.

AMA has provided specific guidelines for FPV activity for its members. These guidelines and related safety considerations can be found in the AMA Safety Code and in AMA document #550, “First Person View (FPV) Operations.”

– Rich Hanson, AMA Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Representative

First Person View (FPV) Operations

1. An FPV-equipped model must be flown by two AMA members utilizing a buddy-box system. The pilot in command must be on the primary transmitter, maintain visual contact, and be prepared to assume control in the event of a problem.
2. The operational range of the model is limited to the pilot in command’s visual line of sight as defined in the Official AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code (see Radio Control, item 9).
3. The flight path of model operations shall be limited to the designated flying site and approved overfly area.
4. The model weight and speed shall be limited to a maximum of 10 pounds and 60 miles per hour.