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Helicopter orbiting over car accident has video of drone at same flight level.

Philztoy

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7Skyforce dodges drone while reporting in SW Miami-Dade; incident under investigation

What kind of drone is this. It looks like one of the cheap Chinese drones I got from Bangood a few years back.

Drone was above 400 ft AGL.

I am not sure why I feel compelled to share these. I guess it bothers me both from a drone pilot and a helicopter pilot viewpoint. I don't want rogue operators give the anti drone masses fuel for their drone control initiatives.
 
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Florida Drone Supply

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I see two issues here.

I know helicopters have their own rules but for years manned aircraft were supposed to maintain 500ft in non-populated areas and 1000ft in populated areas.

The article said they were eye to eye at 400ft but the video stated 800ft either way. We have to problems. Why is a news helicopter hovering at or below 1000ft AGL in a populated area? Yes, I recognize they have a loophole but as a pilot, it is just not safe. Helicopters have a horrible safety rating and flying this low just invites problems. As an FAA Safety Counselor, I see all the helicopter safety reports and I personally don't feel comfortable with one low over my house. While maintaining 1000ft this would give them the critical seconds to make a decision and find a safe place to land other than my living room. I am also concerned about them claiming the drone was at 800ft that would be a clear violation of part 107 rules. Hopefully soon with R-ID we can find these people and get them educated or reformed so that they can respect these boundaries.

In conclusion, I think that the FAA should be stronger on the 400ft restriction and stronger on enforcement. Also, we as pilots should make a stronger effort to maintain the proper altitude. I also feel that the FAA should resend the loopholes that allow helicopters to operate at treetop heights whenever they feel like it. The FAA should strengthen regulations for helicopters and make them compile to the same criteria as fixed-wing aviation and this would provide a higher safety level for everyone. It is easy for a fast-moving helicopter to sneak up on a UAS operator. Especially at treetop heights.

Sole Opinions of Mike D
 

Philztoy

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Good points. 500 feet AGL is what we always fly in a helicopter. Keeps us out of fixed wing traffic and supposed to keep us out of legal drone traffic too. I never hover in the air with a piston helicopter. It doesn't give you a lot of time to autorotate. But then again it is always a look down and pick a spot decision in a helicopter not a lot of glide ration even when they are moving. They always seem to throw facts in that conflict or are incorrect. Helicopter shouldn't be at 400 feet AGL or hovering for long at 800 feet. Drone shouldn't be at 800 feet AGL.
 

DashSolo

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Helo traffic here in MIAMI has been known to transition throughout the area (skirting around MIA) to fly at 700 AGL. I've called the MIA tower multiple times complaining they are below 500 AGL but the tower always insists they are at above 700 AGL.
 

SanCap

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This was our local mosquito control enjoying a beachside cruise. The claimed they were flying a grid pattern that went the 10 mile stretch of beach. Usually they do a grid of a 1/4 mile or less. This type of flight pattern would give you less than 20 seconds to figure out where to go if you were flying a drone. Sorry this is not my vertical video :)

 

aerialimagery

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I've done many photo flights in helicopters and I am unaware of any regulation that they must be above 500 feet. Most of the time I requested 400 feet to do my photography, but sometimes lower, and that was granted, though most pilots for the sake of safety and not because of any regulations wanted to keep moving and at 400 feet minimum. (I rarely needed them to hover).

However, I agree that when piloting a drone, helicopters can make the job difficult. I've had a few times when helicopters seemed to appear out of nowhere flying very low doing inspections or whatever.
 
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Florida Drone Supply

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I've done many photo flights in helicopters and I am unaware of any regulation that they must be above 500 feet. Most of the time I requested 400 feet to do my photography, but sometimes lower, and that was granted, though most pilots for the sake of safety and not because of any regulations wanted to keep moving and at 400 feet minimum. (I rarely needed them to hover).

(I think that the regulations currently leave a lot to interpretation. and operating in an area designated for UAS such as 400ft and below in my opinion is a "undo risk" and also from being a pilot dealing with a "partial" engine failure at 3,500 ft. in a fixed-wing aircraft. I personally would never want to have any catastrophic failures at 500 or less. That idea just scares me and is well below my personal minimums as a pilot with over 2500 hours. Unfortunately, some helicopters get confident and read only the first line of part 91.119(d). I would like to see the FAA put something in this part that gives them the responsibility to see and avoid or even minimize interactions with Drones. The US Forestry Fire department flew at treetop height over our building just the other day, and Law enforcement does it often with ADS-B turned off. At least the Forestry helicopter came upon our DJI Air Sense ADS-B display. Once Remote Id is an everyday thing I think in my personal opinion helicopters should have to have a UAS Remote ID system to prevent collisions below 500ft.

Again all of the above is not the companies but my personal opinion. I underlined the interesting parts.

Mike D.


-------------- Here are the regulations referenced below. --------------

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open-air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.


(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.


(d) Helicopters. Helicopters may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface. In addition, each person operating a helicopter shall comply with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the Administrator.



Here is the "gotcha"

§ 91.13 Careless or reckless operation.



(a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.



(b) Aircraft operations other than for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft, other than for the purpose of air navigation, on any part of the surface of an airport used by aircraft for air commerce (including areas used by those aircraft for receiving or discharging persons or cargo), in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.



ANOTHER INTERESTING TIDBIT.. perhaps they are flying under the other traffic (if you are close to an airport.)


§ 91.126 Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class G airspace.

<snip>

(2) Each pilot of a helicopter or a powered parachute must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft.
 

Chuckinay

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I see two issues here.

I know helicopters have their own rules but for years manned aircraft were supposed to maintain 500ft in non-populated areas and 1000ft in populated areas.

The article said they were eye to eye at 400ft but the video stated 800ft either way. We have to problems. Why is a news helicopter hovering at or below 1000ft AGL in a populated area? Yes, I recognize they have a loophole but as a pilot, it is just not safe. Helicopters have a horrible safety rating and flying this low just invites problems. As an FAA Safety Counselor, I see all the helicopter safety reports and I personally don't feel comfortable with one low over my house. While maintaining 1000ft this would give them the critical seconds to make a decision and find a safe place to land other than my living room. I am also concerned about them claiming the drone was at 800ft that would be a clear violation of part 107 rules. Hopefully soon with R-ID we can find these people and get them educated or reformed so that they can respect these boundaries.

In conclusion, I think that the FAA should be stronger on the 400ft restriction and stronger on enforcement. Also, we as pilots should make a stronger effort to maintain the proper altitude. I also feel that the FAA should resend the loopholes that allow helicopters to operate at treetop heights whenever they feel like it. The FAA should strengthen regulations for helicopters and make them compile to the same criteria as fixed-wing aviation and this would provide a higher safety level for everyone. It is easy for a fast-moving helicopter to sneak up on a UAS operator. Especially at treetop heights.

Sole Opinions of Mike D
Given the incredible zoom cameras that are on TV helicopters, there is no reason for them to fly lower than 1,000 AGL unless there is breaking news on an ant hill.

While the public freaks out about privacy when a drone is around, nothing compares to the telephoto capabilities of a TV helicopter. They really could peek into your bedroom if they wanted to, and they could do it from several miles away.

That said, the most logical explanation I've seen here for this case at 800 feet is the pilot's possible desire to stay under the nearby airport's traffic pattern.
 

R Martin

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This was our local mosquito control enjoying a beachside cruise. The claimed they were flying a grid pattern that went the 10 mile stretch of beach. Usually they do a grid of a 1/4 mile or less. This type of flight pattern would give you less than 20 seconds to figure out where to go if you were flying a drone. Sorry this is not my vertical video :)

Was there a NOTAM associated with the flight?
 
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R.Perry

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I see two issues here.

I know helicopters have their own rules but for years manned aircraft were supposed to maintain 500ft in non-populated areas and 1000ft in populated areas.

The article said they were eye to eye at 400ft but the video stated 800ft either way. We have to problems. Why is a news helicopter hovering at or below 1000ft AGL in a populated area? Yes, I recognize they have a loophole but as a pilot, it is just not safe. Helicopters have a horrible safety rating and flying this low just invites problems.

Sole Opinions of Mike D

Helicopters have always been allowed to fly below 1000 AGL over populated areas, or 500 in remote areas. Heck years ago I did a lot of crop dusting, and most of the time never go up to 500 feet, and back then some of the fields were pretty darn close to the city limits, and major highways.
Helicopters poor safety record is because they have too many lord parts on them, they have no glide ratio, and of course like anything in aviation, pilots are human and make mistakes.
Fixed wing pilots know altitude is their friend, that doesn't apply to helicopters.
 

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