UAV Law - RC Groups
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Dec 28, 2007, 09:48 AM
The cake is a lie


I've read a lot here on the forums about the legislation and rules of UAVs and, to say the least, I couldn't find a single, straightforward definition. So I did the unthinkable...I just went and read the friggen laws.

Here is what I've found. (and I'm glad I looked, 'cause now i can't do what I wanted )So here is the information for all of you, for better or worse.

UAVs (UAS by their term) are any unmanned flying vehicles. Public (governmental agencies) UAVs fly under guidelines of a COA(Certificate of Airworthiness, i think). Civil (as in us) UAVs fly under guidelines of a SAC (Special Airworthiness Certificate). Which means you must send them enough information to convince them you have mitigated any risk, (not only the aircraft, but the site as well) then be inspected and then approved. Model UAVs fly under the guidelines of AC 91-57, which are your classic five rules (Over unpopulated areas, under 400 feet AGL, no unproven aircraft near spectators, avoid real aircraft, stay within sight).
You must conform to COA, SAC, or AC 91-57 if you are operating a UAV. Period.


Here's the rules:
UAV Policy
AC 91-57
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Dec 28, 2007, 12:29 PM
Registered User
Oh Jeez...... you have no idea what a S&*$#storm this is.....
Dec 28, 2007, 02:12 PM
Registered User
Build as big a model as you it to look realistic with a dummy pilot.If someone takes a picture it will look like a manned vehicle.They might not knock it down if they can see a pilot.They will probably use thermal imaging to determine if it's manned so heat the dummy to 98.6 degrees.Don't break any normal laws for manned aircraft.Set "home" on autopilot to body of water .mountain gorge similar unrecoverable area should you be followed by another aircraft.

just kidding....
Last edited by johnthewelder; Dec 28, 2007 at 03:16 PM.
Dec 28, 2007, 02:16 PM
Real Time Recon
realtimerecon's Avatar
The goverment cant even build a FENCE to keep US safe. So how do u think they will w/ this uav stuff !!!
Dec 28, 2007, 03:13 PM
Registered User
I've noticed that civilian uav flights are something that is hired out,uav with pilot. I'm also seeing job openings looking for experienced remote uav pilots.The military is investing big into combination autonamous-remote robotics.These hobby RPV pilots are the pilots and techs of all these robots they want.We should be incouraging their activities.
Dec 28, 2007, 03:37 PM
Registered User
If you built your plane to look like a UAV and cover it with visible sensers multiple camers three or four antennas police cruiser light bar .Big lettering on fuselage "SECURITY". Others might think it belongs to someone important and leave it alone????
Dec 28, 2007, 08:05 PM
The cake is a lie
This was my horrible vision... maiden flight, everything going great, about three miles out from base, sitting in my car flying my plane....(tapping on window).....good morning officer.....what am I doing? Why, flying this remote controlled airplane. Where is it? Well, about 15000 feet that way, and another 400 straight up. Oh does that sound kinda strange Mr. Sheriff? Looks like we take a trip downtown....

I have enough on my record, I don't need trouble with the FAA, FCC, DHS, who knows who else. I mean regular people don't get in trouble with these branches of government. I can understand the FAAs reluctance to bring UAVs too quickly into the NAS. There IS a reason aviation is so safe. But still....damn.

And TexFlyer, what S&*$# storm? I didn't mean to make any trouble, although I suppose 90% of the people here have flown illegally... We can still use or build the planes we want, we just have to stay low and fly in circles all day....

In a way then this time is paramount to us. We are the pioneers of this new field of aviation, which will perhaps have more impact on the industry than the advent of the jet engine. We must push the issue. Develop and demonstrate safe UAVs. Comply with the rules while showing this can be done.
Dec 28, 2007, 08:08 PM
The cake is a lie
And I think the disguise would be best as a large......fixed wing.....bird. Who seems to be constantly gliding and emitting an annoying squeal. With retractable feet. And a beak that spins at a few thousand RPMs. No vertical stab tho, feathers don't go that way.
Dec 29, 2007, 12:43 AM
Registered User
lvspark's Avatar
Originally Posted by sectrix
So I did the unthinkable...I just went and read the friggen laws.

AC 91-57 is not law. The advisory circular encourages voluntary compliance.
Model aircraft are not regulated.
None of that stuff is law. If it is, it should be in the CFR, no?
Still a big grey area. or is that gray area? dang!
Dec 29, 2007, 01:08 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by sectrix
And TexFlyer, what S&*$# storm? I didn't mean to make any trouble, although I suppose 90% of the people here have flown illegally... We can still use or build the planes we want, we just have to stay low and fly in circles all day....
As Mike has just quoted, is there really a law? I was alluding to the fact that this has been a pretty contentious debate in other forums and even among several government agencies. No one seems to want to step into the breach and fly a precedent setting case, although I've threatened to a time or two myself. There is stuff happening within the FAA, but it's not for us mere mortals to view (or egads! Judge!) lest we turn into pillars of salt or something.....

Dec 29, 2007, 03:39 AM
Gary Mortimer's Avatar
You might want to have a look at this...

It should open a CAP 722 link which is a very interesting document.

Again nothing set in stone yet, I have been told that as long as everything weighs less than 7KG's the UK CAA is happy. However when the first AP or RPV of that size hits something or someone then they will look very closely at it all.

Some policy is expected by August 2008.

Interesting times.

Dec 29, 2007, 04:47 PM
The cake is a lie
You make a good point, Mike, I didn't think of that. But what about the other policy I linked to? Isn't that law? It is Part 91 it says, and it also says you MUST abide by one of the three.
To quote, "The current FAA policy for UAS operations is that no person may operate a UAS in the National Airspace System without specific authority. For UAS operating as public aircraft the authority is the COA, for UAS operating as civil aircraft the authority is special airworthiness certificates, and for model aircraft the authority is AC 91-57."
So if I fly beyond line of sight, I am no longer compliant with 91-57(voluntary or no), and I'm certainly not getting any certificates, so I'm not operating under any 'authority', which is against the policy set forth by the FAA?(I don't think they even know)

I hope the US looks to the UK for guidance. IMO if UAVs are under minimum altitude for full size (FL 20 I think), and not over populated areas or near airports, I don't see any problem.

I'm just going to follow 91-57 (except for the line of sight thing) and do what I originally planned. And when that inevitable visit from officer Friendly comes, I'll just hope he's too surprised about the whole thing to do anything other then to tell me to move along. Or he isn't familiar with FAA policy. And if I do get in trouble, yall will be the first to know.

On with the Engineering!
Dec 31, 2007, 06:24 PM
The cake is a lie
An article I found describing something of a preview of new FAA laws to come early '08 from Flight International, a weekly aviation publication. Basically says UAVs over dense urban areas must be under 4 lbs and 400 feet. Other areas under 35 lbs and 1200 feet. All UAVs will operate under 40 knots, and 2.6 nm away from airports. UAVs can only be operated by licensed pilots, line-of-sight only.

Dec 31, 2007, 10:17 PM
Inherent Tinkerer
Interesting. Last I heard they were only going to require that UAV operators go through pilot ground school, not have a pilot's license. In the local area (Wichita KS) most ground schools now consist of watching a set of DVDs and then taking a written test if you want to get your license. Be interesting to see how this one plays out!

One more question: If you're flying a UAV for hire do you have to have a Commercial Pilot certification?

Jan 01, 2008, 12:14 AM
Registered User
lvspark's Avatar
jtprouty, are you asking question on future requirements, or current FAA position?

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