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View Poll Results: Max Range
Visual Line Of Sight 18 14.88%
1/4 mile 1 0.83%
1/2 mile 5 4.13%
1 mile 22 18.18%
Unlimited 75 61.98%
Voters: 121. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Jul 12, 2008, 04:35 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Mesa, Arizona
Joined Nov 2006
2,385 Posts
Poll
Proposed U.S. FPV Guidelines - Max Range

These threads are to poll U.S. FPV pilots on recommended guidelines for submission to the ARC which has been given authorization by FAA to prepare guidelines for small unmanned aerial vehicles.

This link will provide the background of how and why ARC was formed and its agenda.

http://tinyurl.com/5svend

The following link is to the FAA Interim Operational Approval For Unmanned Aircraft that was issued in March of this year.

http://tinyurl.com/6lufmu

While this document does not effect hobbyists and amateur model aircraft users when operating systems for sport and recreation if does provide good feel for the issues they are focusing on such as spotters, operating range, etc. We can expect that these same issues may also be considered in formulating changes to AC91-57.

After polling is complete these main guidelines will be supplemented with additional secondary requirements from pilot input received.

In answering these question please remember the reply should not reflect what you would like if were your decision but what is reasonable and has a chance to be accepted by the rule makers.The poll will end in 30 days.


Thanks!
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 05:00 PM
Suspended Account
Netherlands, NH, Edam
Joined Jul 2004
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Well, there's two factors that'll restrict range, the first is operational range of the RC control gear and the video signal. If either one is lost the plane can be considered lost. Typical range of common RC control gear is about 1 to 2-miles depending on the environment (out in the boonies usually gets better mileage, pun intended, than somewhere city center). Video signal range can be improved by using better antennas, hence usually is not a limiting factor.

The next factor to consider is simply the range of the aircraft in terms of how far it'll be able to fly on a tank of gas or battery. Obviously the plane has to have enough range to be able to fly from starting point A to point B and back, with some reserve for contigencies along the way (head wind for example). Typical FPV aircraft (my EasyStar for example) are capable of well over 10-mile of range, with flight times well over 45-mins on a single 3S/2200 LiPo. This is pretty much a standard setup for many FPV-ers.

Combining the two automatically brings us to the conclusion that the range of the RC control gear is the limiting factor. Unless other systems are employed to control the aircraft. However, I don't know of any such systems that are commercially available without a HAM (amateur radio) license that pass FCC regulations.

Cheers,

Sander.
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 05:14 PM
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typicalaimster's Avatar
United States, CA, San Diego
Joined Jan 2005
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I believe once again 8.2.1 Observer Requirement covers this...

Quote:
Generally, observers are to be positioned no greater than one nautical mile laterally and 3000 feet vertically from the UA. The use of nautical miles is based on the fact that the UA is being positioned by the pilot via control stations that typically use moving map displays that are referenced in nautical miles.

This distance is predicated on the observerís normal unaided vision. Corrective lenses, spectacles, and contact lenses may be used.
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 05:46 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Mesa, Arizona
Joined Nov 2006
2,385 Posts
I have found my DX7/AR7000 range to be about 1 mile. By flying with the Tx antenna horizontal it will go into failsafe near that distance and moving the antenna vertically will bring it back.
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 07:19 PM
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Elmhurst, NY (Queens in NYC)
Joined Apr 2004
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A comment for those who want unlimited distance.

Wait until the first time you lose a plane, even in conditions of perfect safety.

Unlimited distance should be reserved for planes with some sort of GPS homing failsafe.

Having had one flyaway in high winds I feel qualified to make this comment.

Remember, I told you so!

Pete
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Old Jul 12, 2008, 08:42 PM
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KeithLuneau's Avatar
United States, LA, Moreauville
Joined Jan 2002
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I chose 1 mile, based on the fact that probably 90% of FPV pilots will be using stock R/C gear for control...
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Old Jul 13, 2008, 12:56 AM
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anci3nt's Avatar
Joined Nov 2006
525 Posts
Are we making suggestions for FPV operators or UAV operators? My assumption was UAV operators and FPV will probably be clumped into that category. The distinction will change my answers on some of these polls.
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Old Jul 13, 2008, 03:49 AM
Cameras are EVERYWHERE...
tvdude310's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined Jan 2008
1,879 Posts
Is there a need to limit range?

A lost plane at 3 miles is no different than a lost plane at 20 miles.
The equipment will limit the range. Yes, 90% of FPV will happen within one mile. But why is there any need to limit those who wish to go further? The overall safety of the flight does not change one bit.
The system I just purchased will limit me to less than a mile, probably less than a half mile. When the time comes to go further, the next Tx will take me to the limit of my RC range.
The limit is what the equipment will do.
Pete, you're correct about losing a plane. But we're already losing planes anyway. If you fly beyond your range, you've got nobody to blame but yourself.
Limiting range will also have no affect on safety either, unless someone is flying in or towards a place they shouldn't be in the first place.
So-
Instead of worrying about range, shouldn't we be worrying about WHERE we fly?
Same as the big boys, same as the ultralights, same as the guy with 15 weather ballons and a lawn chair (which, by the way, is legal outside of controlled airspace).
This would of course mean that commercial UAV's and hobby FPV would need to operate under different sets of rules. If your commercial enterprise is aerial photography of buildings, for example, then you will obviously need to fly over populated areas.
FPV needs to be separate and distinct from commercial UAV, and there is no need whatsoever to limit range.
What each and every FPV flyer should do instead is to plan the course or area of the entire flight and verify that they are not flying into unsafe areas or controlled airspace. Aeronautical sectional charts are available to everyone, and should be considered as standard equipment for any "long range" flights.

It's not HOW FAR you fly, it's a matter of WHERE YOUR PLANE IS that needs to be regulated, as it is now for all other aviation.
Remember, a plane that flies out of range is akin to a lone pilot who dies at the stick. There are no rules about dying while flying, and it does happen. The range of the flight is a non issue, but the airspace the flight takes place in is a big issue.
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Old Jul 14, 2008, 12:55 AM
JettPilot's Avatar
Miami
Joined Apr 2005
10,148 Posts
It is pointless to limit range. For some reason, TypicalAimster has this urge to place needless limits FPV more in some ways which makes zero sense in terms of safety. Why should it be any more dangerous to fly my FPV plane over feilds 3 miles away than fields that are 1 mile away ??? Either way does not make a darn bit of difference.

The goal here should be the least amount of regulation possible, not the most

For FPV safety, its all about WHERE you do it, which is the same for any model airplane. For FPV, altitude becomes more of an issue, 1000 feet seems reasonable, as many NON FPV RC planes routinely go that high. Airspace and Urban areas are the same as for any model airplane... They have been flying for 50 years without excessive regulation... Putting a camera on the airplane or not makes little difference if flying in a urban area or on the approach patch to a busy airport. Its been done with standard RC, those that have done it have been told to stop. It makes no difference if there was a camera on those planes or not ( where there was not ).

JettPilot
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 01:01 AM
Fly FPV, sleep; repeat
twinturbostang's Avatar
Germantown, MD
Joined Mar 2006
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I voted unlimited. However, there are only two logical answers to the question... either visual line of sight, or unlimited. Any other choice just doesn't make any sense. I see 1 mile has been a popular choice. However, there's absolutely no logical reason why FPV flying should be limited to 1 mile, other than it's a nice round number. If the US had completely switched over to the metric system by now, do you think we'd instead be asking for 1.6KM? Same distance. Doesn't have the same ring to it though. Ok, so why not 2KM? Oh, too far? Ok, how about 0.5KM? What's the difference? There needs to be a logical reason for stating a specific range. But there is none. The only thing that even comes close, is possibly to limit the range to within the range of your RC and/or video systems. But that varies by a HUGE margin depending on what brand or quality components are used and the individual installation. No one distance works for that argument. We see people all the time complaining about only getting 0.3miles, yet others going several miles without problems.

So, we're left with only the two logical choices... either visual line of sight, or no limit. Personally, I choose no limit. There's definitely the possibility (although probably slim) that the FAA might choose visual line of sight. But even that is going to be a difficult sell for themselves. Visual line of sight... is that for people with 20/20 vision? How about those with glasses? Maybe they can't see as far as somebody else. Cloud cover and humid one day, sunny and low humidity another day... that chances "visual" line of sight also.

So how would they go about regulating this? First of all they would have to prove that you flew farther than visual line of sight. Then they would have to show that you flew farther than YOUR visual line of sight, since THEIR visual line of sight might be different than YOURS! And again, weather conditions could affect "visual" line of sight as well. You can see there could potentially be A LOT of gray area here, which right off the bat is a very BAD thing when attempting to create laws. It leaves a lot open for the court system to argue, if it is taken that far. Furthermore, do you really think FAA patrols are going to be out and about looking to see if people are flying beyond "visual range"? No way. Just not going to happen. So my guess is that they are not going to regulate it. You just can't regulate something you can't enforce. It's possible they may suggest it as a guideline. But I just don't see how they are going to enforce it as a law.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 01:27 AM
Cameras are EVERYWHERE...
tvdude310's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined Jan 2008
1,879 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by twinturbostang
I voted unlimited. However, there are only two logical answers to the question... either visual line of sight, or unlimited. Any other choice just doesn't make any sense. I see 1 mile has been a popular choice. However, there's absolutely no logical reason why FPV flying should be limited to 1 mile, other than it's a nice round number. If the US had completely switched over to the metric system by now, do you think we'd instead be asking for 1.6KM? Same distance. Doesn't have the same ring to it though. Ok, so why not 2KM? Oh, too far? Ok, how about 0.5KM? What's the difference? There needs to be a logical reason for stating a specific range. But there is none. The only thing that even comes close, is possibly to limit the range to within the range of your RC and/or video systems. But that varies by a HUGE margin depending on what brand or quality components are used and the individual installation. No one distance works for that argument. We see people all the time complaining about only getting 0.3miles, yet others going several miles without problems.

So, we're left with only the two logical choices... either visual line of sight, or no limit. Personally, I choose no limit. There's definitely the possibility (although probably slim) that the FAA might choose visual line of sight. But even that is going to be a difficult sell for themselves. Visual line of sight... is that for people with 20/20 vision? How about those with glasses? Maybe they can't see as far as somebody else. Cloud cover and humid one day, sunny and low humidity another day... that chances "visual" line of sight also.

So how would they go about regulating this? First of all they would have to prove that you flew farther than visual line of sight. Then they would have to show that you flew farther than YOUR visual line of sight, since THEIR visual line of sight might be different than YOURS! And again, weather conditions could affect "visual" line of sight as well. You can see there could potentially be A LOT of gray area here, which right off the bat is a very BAD thing when attempting to create laws. It leaves a lot open for the court system to argue, if it is taken that far. Furthermore, do you really think FAA patrols are going to be out and about looking to see if people are flying beyond "visual range"? No way. Just not going to happen. So my guess is that they are not going to regulate it. You just can't regulate something you can't enforce. It's possible they may suggest it as a guideline. But I just don't see how they are going to enforce it as a law.
Good thoughts.
If we want to accurately word a reg on this, it should really have nothing to do with range. Instead, it should address the airspace flown in (or not flown in, as the case may be).
Not flying over densely populated areas, for example, may be one way to approach this. And of course, not flying into congested and/or controlled airspace. We can discuss this and build on it.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 05:23 AM
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Elmhurst, NY (Queens in NYC)
Joined Apr 2004
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Just a quick two-cents.

In areas where unlimited range is a reasonable thing maybe a return to home failsafe might be a good idea.

Aside from safety concerns, it would be almost impossible to FIND a missing airplane that goes down out of sight, with no final video and no GPS reading. Look at Steve Fosset as an example. True he was much further away from his starting point than we would be, but he was in a full sized light plane and hundreds of people were looking for him from the air for many days.

Aside from wanting to explore and video tape an interesting area I can see no reason to fly far away just for the sake of saying you did it.

Pete
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 05:44 AM
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Netherlands, NH, Edam
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Pete,

Quote:
Aside from wanting to explore and video tape an interesting area I can see no reason to fly far away just for the sake of saying you did it.
Yeah, frankly range is limited by the RC equipment anyway. I've gone out to about 2km on my FF9/PCM Rx, but I don't like it much as when you do lose range the changes of not recovering are greater. Hence normally I stay within a 1km radius, so I know I won't be surprised by a loss of signal.

Cross country flying sure is fun, but the majority of airplanes don't have the stamina (battery life) to go much further than about ~10-miles out, as you need to consider that you have to fly back as well.

Cheers,

Sander.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 11:56 AM
Fly FPV, sleep; repeat
twinturbostang's Avatar
Germantown, MD
Joined Mar 2006
3,376 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvdude310
Good thoughts.
If we want to accurately word a reg on this, it should really have nothing to do with range. Instead, it should address the airspace flown in (or not flown in, as the case may be).
Not flying over densely populated areas, for example, may be one way to approach this. And of course, not flying into congested and/or controlled airspace. We can discuss this and build on it.
Yes, exactly. Of course, "densely" populated areas is still up to interpretation. If you live in the desert, a nearby gas station could be considered "densely" populated. lol Finding the exact form of words is going to be difficult, such that it adequately describes acceptable flying spots based on your location.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 12:01 PM
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United States, FL, Palm Bay
Joined Jul 2008
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Gary, am I to believe that you assume all r/c pilots are without any common sense at all? These guidelines are better suited for those without any common sense and they shut out the flyers who do excercise good common sense and a very basic understanding of logic. This kind of suggestive activity is very narrow minded. I have large, heavy,not so fast, machines that use turbines. Who are you to imply that I'd be more dangerous than the guy with an easy star, which I have as well? Why would you want to shut the door on the guy that's still learning and keep him inside your little fenced in area? I'm all about SAFETY through common sense and due diligence. Where's your head at?
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