Welcome, Commercial Drone Pilots!
Join our growing community today!
Sign up

In Section 107.39, Operations Over Human Beings, what does "over people" mean?

slats

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
6
Age
54
Location
Vista, CA
In reading the material on the FAAs web site regarding waivers, it seems like there might be some allowance for an sUAS to be flown over people (momentarily) and not need a waiver. Guidance is provided that defines what "over people" means. Here is what it says:

"The term "over" refers to the flight of the small unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person. For example, a small UAS that hovers directly over a person's head, shoulders, or extended arms or legs would be an operation over people. Similarly, if a person is lying down, for example at a beach, an operation over that person's torso or toes would also constitute an operation over people. An operation during which a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of the dwell time, if any, over the person, would be an operation over people".

The wording of "regardless of dwell time, if any" is interesting. Could it be interpreted that if there is no "dwell time" (the aircraft never hovers and is basically just transiting from one spot to another) that the momentary flight overhead might be permissible?
 

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Messages
1,519
Reaction score
919
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
I'm afraid they have not allowed for "Grey Area" on this. Just because the aircraft is not hovering does not mean it's not flying OVER PEOPLE. Think FAILURE scenarios.

What happens if you're intending to "transition over but not hover" and you have a total power failure?

Aviation is about reducing/Avoiding (if possible) risk. If any portion of your flight (remember to account for control/propulsion failure) could have the aircraft impacting a person then you are 100% at fault.

Do you think that flying over a group of people at (for instance) 50' and 25mph could ever be considered "Not Over People"? They pretty much summed it up with the one un-grey phrase of:

"An operation during which a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of the dwell time, if any, over the person, would be an operation over people".

By saying, "Regardless of dwell time" takes away the loop holes IMHO.
 
  • Like
Reactions: R Martin

slats

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
6
Age
54
Location
Vista, CA
I'm afraid they have not allowed for "Grey Area" on this. Just because the aircraft is not hovering does not mean it's not flying OVER PEOPLE. Think FAILURE scenarios.

What happens if you're intending to "transition over but not hover" and you have a total power failure?

Aviation is about reducing/Avoiding (if possible) risk. If any portion of your flight (remember to account for control/propulsion failure) could have the aircraft impacting a person then you are 100% at fault.

Do you think that flying over a group of people at (for instance) 50' and 25mph could ever be considered "Not Over People"? They pretty much summed it up with the one un-grey phrase of:

"An operation during which a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of the dwell time, if any, over the person, would be an operation over people".

By saying, "Regardless of dwell time" takes away the loop holes IMHO.
I agree with your thoughts on the implications of a power failure. I was looking at the "if any" wording following "Regardless of dwell time" and thinking that if there is no dwell time, then it might be permissible. I'm not envisioning a large crowded event where the aircraft is being flown at a relatively low altitude in order to get close up photos or video of the crowd. The scenario that I envision is a higher altitude flight over a relatively sparsely populated area where the flight over a person is incidental rather than intentional. In this scenario there is also parachute system installed.
 

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Messages
1,519
Reaction score
919
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
In reality there will be times when you "incidentally" fly over someone. It's impossible to be 100% sure you never EVER fly over a person (people are hard to herd and even harder to predict) so it's our responsibility to do everything we can to minimize all risks that we can.

Intentionally flying over even a few/couple of people (regardless of altitude) is still intentionally flying over people.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Phaedrus

Phaedrus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
71
Reaction score
35
Age
63
Location
California
I'm afraid they have not allowed for "Grey Area" on this. Just because the aircraft is not hovering does not mean it's not flying OVER PEOPLE. Think FAILURE scenarios.
Exactly. This whole rule is driven by the "what if" scenario analysis. What if something goes wrong, will a person potentially be injured. Flying over people is both dangerous and demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety of others. For myself, rather than try to find ways to skirt the letter of the law I simply make sure I stay well clear of people. I prefer not to put my insurance to the test.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

slats

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
6
Age
54
Location
Vista, CA
In reality there will be times when you "incidentally" fly over someone. It's impossible to be 100% sure you never EVER fly over a person (people are hard to herd and even harder to predict) so it's our responsibility to do everything we can to minimize all risks that we can.

Intentionally flying over even a few/couple of people (regardless of altitude) is still intentionally flying over people.
While I am relatively new to flying sUAS aircraft, I am a Part 107 certificate holder and an experienced fixed wing pilot (ATP AMEL with 2 type ratings, Commercial ASEL), and I'm also a licensed A&P mechanic. Safety is always of utmost importance to me. I'm not looking for loopholes in the regs. I always want to understand the subtleties of the regs, so I don't have an inadvertent violation. I'm doing something right as after 35 years, I'm still accident/incident/violation free.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Messages
1,519
Reaction score
919
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
While I am relatively new to flying sUAS aircraft, I am a Part 107 certificate holder and an experienced fixed wing pilot (ATP AMEL with 2 type ratings, Commercial ASEL), and I'm also a licensed A&P mechanic. Safety is always of utmost importance to me. I'm not looking for loopholes in the regs. I always want to understand the subtleties of the regs, so I don't have an inadvertent violation. I'm doing something right as after 35 years, I'm still accident/incident/violation free.

I have guessed/assumed by your screen name that most likely you have some deep level of manned aircraft experience or at least a deep fascination with it. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Phaedrus

slats

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
6
Age
54
Location
Vista, CA
I have guessed/assumed by your screen name that most likely you have some deep level of manned aircraft experience or at least a deep fascination with it. :)
My last name is Slattery so that shortens very nicely to slats and of course it has an obvious aviation connection. My father was a career Air Force pilot and his call sign was Slats.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DoomMeister

slats

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
6
Age
54
Location
Vista, CA
@BigAl07 & @Phaedrus Thanks for your input. You guys both chimed in on my last post regarding VLOS. This forum is great in that it allows us all to benefit from each others experience. I hope to hear more from you as it's certain I will continue to seek interpretations, guidance and opinions from this community.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

Phaedrus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
71
Reaction score
35
Age
63
Location
California
While I am relatively new to flying sUAS aircraft, I am a Part 107 certificate holder and an experienced fixed wing pilot (ATP AMEL with 2 type ratings, Commercial ASEL), and I'm also a licensed A&P mechanic. Safety is always of utmost importance to me. I'm not looking for loopholes in the regs. I always want to understand the subtleties of the regs, so I don't have an inadvertent violation. I'm doing something right as after 35 years, I'm still accident/incident/violation free.

Keep in mind that your actions while exercising your Part 107 privileges can impact your other licenses. Just one more joyful FAA thought to keep in mind o_O
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

R.Perry

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
650
Reaction score
413
Age
70
Location
Coulterville, CA
I think the easiest way to answer your question is have you ask the FAA for clarification. They I"m sure will make it very clear that transitioning over people is illegal. This law presents many problems for those of us attempting to work in areas that are populated with a lot of people.
I must do mapping twice a month at a university construction site, that mapping also includes parts of the active college. I can only do the mapping on Sunday mornings and must be finished before 11 AM.

The other issue is my weekly videos that I shoot for the same construction company. It is done during the construction workers lunch break, the flight route is planned where I'm least likely to encounter anyone. That doesn't mean all of a sudden someone didn't get the message to stay our of the area, and before you know it you just overflew someone.

I have talked to the FAA inspector for the area, he is a decent guy, but he is a by the book, and his comment has been the regulations say you can't overfly people, period.

I also have asked him about the lack of enforcement and he said if he witnesses a deliberate violation he will site the person, this could include pulling the offenders licenses depending on the severity of the violation. If someone is injured then without question you will be cited and most likely lose your license.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

Pauxier

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
9
Reaction score
7
Age
55
Seems to me that if the FAA won;t clearly define "over people" with a number of feet/meters etc. then any time you fly up about 10 feet you would technically be over everyone! I know that's being silly and not really helping. I just think it's an interesting way to think about it.
 

BigAl07

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Messages
1,519
Reaction score
919
Age
48
Location
Western North Carolina
Seems to me that if the FAA won;t clearly define "over people" with a number of feet/meters etc. then any time you fly up about 10 feet you would technically be over everyone! I know that's being silly and not really helping. I just think it's an interesting way to think about it.

It's been well noted that the FAA will gladly give us enough rope to hang ourselves. By not giving exact #'s allows a lot more flexibility in terms of investigating and enforcement endeavors going forward.
 

Phaedrus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
71
Reaction score
35
Age
63
Location
California
It also requires that we as pilots exercise good judgment, which is really that the FAA is counting on. Sadly, that is not a quality every pilot possesses.
 

dawgpilot

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2018
Messages
20
Reaction score
5
In reading the material on the FAAs web site regarding waivers, it seems like there might be some allowance for an sUAS to be flown over people (momentarily) and not need a waiver. Guidance is provided that defines what "over people" means. Here is what it says:

"The term "over" refers to the flight of the small unmanned aircraft directly over any part of a person. For example, a small UAS that hovers directly over a person's head, shoulders, or extended arms or legs would be an operation over people. Similarly, if a person is lying down, for example at a beach, an operation over that person's torso or toes would also constitute an operation over people. An operation during which a small UAS flies over any part of any person, regardless of the dwell time, if any, over the person, would be an operation over people".

The wording of "regardless of dwell time, if any" is interesting. Could it be interpreted that if there is no "dwell time" (the aircraft never hovers and is basically just transiting from one spot to another) that the momentary flight overhead might be permissible?
No, the FAA tried to be very clear with that sentence: they are saying that regardless of the length of time you are over a person, it is completely prohibited. (absent a waiver)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: BigAl07

R.Perry

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
650
Reaction score
413
Age
70
Location
Coulterville, CA
Part 39 waivers are being given out. UC Merced UAV department just got a part 39 waiver. I haven't read the entire application yet but I believe it is for a very light drone that the college uses for training. The waiver does not include my operations.
 

WJK

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
17
Reaction score
4
I flew about 50 feet away from the edge of a group of people. Never was I close to being above anyone, yet I took one hell of a tongue lashing from another RC pilot. I even had permission from the event organizer. You cannot win and you had better error on the side of caution. Do not draw attention to your operating position.
 
Last edited:

R.Perry

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
650
Reaction score
413
Age
70
Location
Coulterville, CA
I flew about 50 away from the edge of a group of people. Never was I close to being above anyone, yet I took one hell of a tongue lashing from another RC pilot. I even had permission from the event organizer. You cannot win and you had better error on the side of caution. Do not draw attention to your operating position.
Was that 50 inches, feet, or yards? As for someone complaining, if your operation was legal I would tell the person to f..... off, of course diplomacy isn't one of my virtues.
 

WJK

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
17
Reaction score
4
Corrected. Not in anyone's best interest to tell someone to F off in front of a group of people.

I have looked at the proposals of equipment to fly over people. (blade enclosures, weight limits, etc.) I would prefer to see allowances made for redundant equipment (2 motors on each arm) and better flight control systems that allow for failures. I certainly do not want to injure anyone ever.
 

R.Perry

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
650
Reaction score
413
Age
70
Location
Coulterville, CA
Corrected. Not in anyone's best interest to tell someone to F off in front of a group of people.
There is always someone that wants to rain on your parade, and those same people normally aren't the type that are easy to reason with. So why waste the effort and time trying to be diplomatic? On the other hand if I'm in the wrong, I will apologize and attempt to make things right.
 

New Threads

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
1,790
Messages
16,591
Members
2,993
Latest member
Aeropapa