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Author Topic: Official definition of drone  (Read 863 times)

electrotor

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Official definition of drone
« on: July 31, 2017, 05:37:36 PM »

Those of you who have been following the legalities threads will be aware that I have been trying to to pin down an official definition of the dreaded "d" word. To date I have contacted the Airprox Board, CAA & DfT.
The Airprox Board has no definition.
The CAA has not responded.
The DfT responded today.
Their response points me to a document which was published last year and I guess I never saw it or I never read it properly (slap wrist).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/579562/consultation-on-the-safe-use-of-drones.pdf

Extract from page 10
What is a drone?
1.1 A drone is an unmanned aircraft, normally flown by a pilot from a distance, using a remote control station that communicates instructions to the drone. Drones are also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Those using drones are referred to as drone users, operators or pilots.
1.2 Drones come in a variety of sizes – they can be as small as your hand, weighing less than 250g or as big as a small plane, weighing several tonnes. As they increase in size, they are able to travel further. Smaller drones tend to use electric motors for propulsion, whereas larger drones tend to use combustion engines like other conventional aircraft.


So there we have it. My interpretation is all radio control, wi-fi or bluetooth controlled models, regardless of type. This will no doubt upset many model flyers who have been flying their > 250g models safely for years and who consider drones to be something other than what they fly. There will be rioting on the streets for sure.
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ORCA

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 07:23:43 PM »

So, OK for 'free flight'. But, NOT OK for C/L(control line) models as they are controlled from the ground/pilot by the lines. I guess aero kites are NOT OK for the same reasons. I know its not relevant for this site.
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chris-s

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2017, 11:32:16 PM »

So where do my skywalker and talon fit in this when flown completely autonomously with no form of remote control?
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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 11:51:32 PM »

"normally flown by a pilot" I guess means all UAVs

electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 11:56:09 PM »

I have already responded to the DfT asking for conformation of the following :

Radio control models would appear to fall under the definition of drone as would infra red, wi-fi and bluetooth. Their classification as drones seems pretty clear.
 
Control line is remotely controlled but this is done by either a mechanical system using one, two or three lines (usually but not always wires) or by sending a control signal down two of the wires to an electrical or electronic system in the model. In all cases the lines or wires make a physical connection between the model and the pilot via a handle. It is a form of tethered flight with line length of typically 50ft or less. Can you please clarify if control line models are classed as drones.
 
Free flight does not have any form of remote control and therefore under the definition of drone provided in “Unlocking the UK's High Tech Economy: Consultation on the Safe Use of drones in the UK” would not be classed as drones. Can you please confirm this?
 
I fully realise that the operation of control line and free flight models is still regulated under the ANO with guidance material in the form of CAP 658. However neither document refers to drones and “Unlocking the UK's High Tech Economy: Consultation on the Safe Use of drones in the UK” may be interpreted as referring only to radio control.

There is actually a fourth type of model, that being autonomous. The flight parameters can be programmed in and the whole flight from take-off to landing is conducted without any form of remote control or pilot intervention. These would therefore not appear to be classed as drones under the definition in “Unlocking the UK's High Tech Economy: Consultation on the Safe Use of drones in the UK”. Can you please confirm this.
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electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 11:58:39 PM »

"normally flown by a pilot from a distance, using a remote control station that communicates instructions to the drone. Drones are also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)."

Autonomous requires no form of remote control or pilot intervention. There is no communication between pilot and model.
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Dillwhacker

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 12:12:07 AM »

The communication is provided by the pilot in advance of the flight ?
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electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2017, 12:32:55 AM »

The communication is provided by the pilot in advance of the flight ?

Nice try but where is the remote control station? Once the flight is initiated the control is on-board and therefore not remote.
This could be interesting especially the subtleties which politicians, law enforcement and the general public will not easily understand. As the Airprox Board said in a reply they "default to the term drone as UAS is too technical for the general public and press." Obviously some people couldn't be expected to cope with the highly technical nature of long words such as "Unmanned", "Aerial" & "Systems". Continuing this dumbing down I think we should start calling all road vehicles "broom brooms" and all shipping "boaties".
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elmattbo

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Official definition of drone
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2017, 12:57:07 AM »

It's pretty simple chaps, the CAA see a drone/mini talon/control line/glider/racing quad as a type of small unmanned aircraft. It's the weight and unmanned element that is key, not the method of control; every single model you have mentioned fall in the under 20kg SUA category. If you've got a camera on it, then there's the specific bit for surveillance and if it's fpv then it's covered by the general exemption. All in the existing rules.

More here
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/General-guidance/Information-for-the-public-about-drones/
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Our-role/An-introduction-to-unmanned-aircraft-systems/
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Recreational-drones/Recreational-drone-flights/


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« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 01:26:45 AM by elmattbo »
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electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 02:23:31 AM »

It's pretty simple chaps, the CAA see a drone/mini talon/control line/glider/racing quad as a type of small unmanned aircraft. It's the weight and unmanned element that is key, not the method of control; every single model you have mentioned fall in the under 20kg SUA category. If you've got a camera on it, then there's the specific bit for surveillance and if it's fpv then it's covered by the general exemption. All in the existing rules.

More here
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/General-guidance/Information-for-the-public-about-drones/
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Our-role/An-introduction-to-unmanned-aircraft-systems/
https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Recreational-drones/Recreational-drone-flights/


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That would be all good and well if it weren't for the fact that the CAA sees drones as different to model aircraft.

Extract from "Specific regulations that relate to drones (small unmanned aircraft)"

"The difference between a drone and a model aircraft (1)

Before describing the differences, it is important to note that both can be classified as small unmanned aircraft and that the aviation regulations above, covering how and where they can be used, apply equally to both. (2)

In terms of these regulations (the Air Navigation Order), a small unmanned aircraft means any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20kg without its fuel, but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight.  When an unmanned aircraft weights more than 20kg, additional regulations come into play and recreational aircraft in this category are usually classified as large model aircraft.

Recent technological advances mean that a much greater variety of small unmanned aircraft are now available.  These vary from the ready-to-fly multi-rotor types that represent the popular conception of a ‘drone’, through to the traditional kit or plans-built model aeroplane or helicopter. (3) A typical multi-rotor drone is heavily gyro-stabilised and can use GPS for guidance in addition to acting on Radio Frequency (RF) commands from the pilot.  The traditional model aircraft usually uses only an RF signal for commands from the pilot, requires much greater pilot training and skill, and is flown only at specific recreational sites away from persons and property. (4)"


(1) difference stated
(2) same regulations - a ray of clarity!
(3) difference stated again
(4) this is not correct as the ANO and CAP 658 does not restrict model flying to specific recreational areas

Is the mini talon/control line/glider a model aircraft when it is flown at a specific recreational area and does it become a drone when flown elsewhere? Are hybrids drones or model aircraft?

The definitions above are at odds with the DfT.
The recent parliamentary debate was about drones.
The recent crash study was about drones.
Registration is proposed for drones.

This shows why clarity is necessary if we are to understand what the legal position is, where we can fly and what we are not allowed to do any longer.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 02:44:50 AM by electrotor »
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BigT

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Official definition of drone
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 08:38:47 AM »

Electrotor, I love your style!!


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big a

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2017, 09:23:44 AM »

"normally flown by a pilot from a distance, using a remote control station that communicates instructions to the drone. Drones are also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)."

Autonomous requires no form of remote control or pilot intervention. There is no communication between pilot and model.
Use of the word "normally" is key here, it allows for small unmanned aircraft that aren't  flown by a pilot from a distance, using a remote control station that communicates instructions to the drone.

Such as autonomously controlled.

I cannot really see any requirement for a specific definition of a drone, at the moment having the 2 categories, small unmanned aircraft and small unmanned surveillance aircraft covers it. adding further definitions will complicate matters.

Worth remembering that there is a long way to go before anything new is introduced and consultations are ongoing.



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electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2017, 11:07:16 AM »


I cannot really see any requirement for a specific definition of a drone, at the moment having the 2 categories, small unmanned aircraft and small unmanned surveillance aircraft covers it. adding further definitions will complicate matters.


The reasons are  :

The CAA & DfT have different definitions. The CAA differentiate between models and drones but the DfT do not.
The recent parliamentary debate was about drones. How can they debate something when there is no agreement on what a drone is? Ignorance is not bliss when it affects us.
The recent crash study was about drones. Will this data be applied automatically and erroneously to models?
Registration is proposed for drones. Will this automatically be applied to model aircraft?

With reference to CAP 658 Model Aircraft : A Guide to Safe Flying, Chapter 2 Legal Requirements defines both a model aircraft and a small unmanned aircraft. It does not define a drone. Surely adding further definitions will clarify matters.
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elmattbo

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Official definition of drone
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 01:16:41 PM »

I suspect when the final regulations come out they will be for anything unmanned and using the existing SUA definitions. I appreciate your desire for clarity but the way I see it, whether it's a drone or a model aircraft they're all the same under the regs.


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electrotor

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Re: Official definition of drone
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2017, 01:58:43 PM »

I suspect when the final regulations come out they will be for anything unmanned and using the existing SUA definitions. I appreciate your desire for clarity but the way I see it, whether it's a drone or a model aircraft they're all the same under the regs.

Sadly i suspect that may be what will happen. And one of the reasons it may happen is that those who will be responsible for making it happen and then enforcing it are not aware of the differences between decades of safe model flying and recent exploits by idiots with "drones".
The CAA will not make the regulations, Parliament will and enforcement of these regulations will be the responsibility of the Police.
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