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Observers

R.Perry

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I have had some experiences with observers, sometimes they forget what they are suppose to be looking at.

Observer.jpg
 
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Dave Pitman

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We've probably all had one like that. On a job for the DOE, they insisted on having their man as a VO. So, prior to the op, I thoroughly brief him on his responsibilities.

For the most part, he did okay. But a couple of times I look up and he's watching me and not the uav. When you look up from the video feed and the VO needs your help to spot the drone, that is not ideal.
 
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R.Perry

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That's exactly what happened, he lost track of it, it was right behind him about 150 feet in the air, he should have been able to hear it.
 

Earthman

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I’ve had two training flights where I wished that I had an observer, but to watch the ground and warn me of people walking into my flight operations area. I conducted both flights just after sunrise, in part to avoid people. I was solo and watching the UAV, which was well within my VLOS (200-ft high, < 400-ft away, and no obstructions), and I thought no one else was around based on my per-takeoff scans of the operation areas. During the flights I didn’t notice the pedestrians walking in to the ops areas until after the point at which I would have preferred to notice. In both cases I was able to avoid flying over the people, and land without incident.

In one of the flights mentioned above, a young woman was following a toddler and letting him wander onto a group of soccer fields where I was testing the autonomous flight capabilities of a new, 3-ft diameter hexacopter that I was setting up for surveys. It was only my 2nd test of autonomous flight with the new UAV, so I wasn’t that familiar with it or the mission planning software. I had just engaged the preprogrammed mission, which caused the UAV to takeoff and climb to altitude over the home point. As I turned to look down the first leg of the survey, I noticed the woman and her toddler walking on to the planned first leg of the ground track of the UAV, which was still hovering over the home point and turning to align with the first leg of the survey. The woman was pointing up at the UAV and trying to get the toddler to look up at it. They were probably 150-ft from the home point, which rattled me, but fortunately I had taken the time to learn how to fly the UAV manually, so I was able take control and land it, but I had to keep moving the landing point farther from the home point since the woman with the toddler decided to walk toward me. I hate to say bad things about people so I won’t, but you know what I’m thinking. The woman must have known that she disrupted my flight because she was apologizing as I packed up to leave. I told her not to worry about it, it wasn’t safe for me to fly around people not participating in the flight, and to have a nice day.

Anyway, most of my concerns are with people and moving cars on the ground in the vicinity of my flights - not manned aircraft.
 

R.Perry

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Flying FPV? The law requires a visual observer. Why would you broadcast that?
Probably because he has most likely experienced the same thing I have, VOs in the most part are useless. If you are going to take picture, shoot video, you need to fly FPV. I can see more of what is going on around the drone by flying FPV. It amazes me that the FAA has placed requirements on drone operations that they don't place on pilots. If I'm flying a plane, I don't need a VO, or anyone else. My visual line of sight in an aircraft has greater restrictions than flying a drone. Yes we need to obey the law so we pay someone to stand around and do nothing, or look over your shoulder, it is a waste.
 

WJK

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OK, since you appear to be a( MOD REMOVED ), I will explain it to you. You do not go on an international forum and announce that you are breaking the law.

Probably because he has most likely experienced the same thing I have, VOs in the most part are useless. If you are going to take picture, shoot video, you need to fly FPV. I can see more of what is going on around the drone by flying FPV. It amazes me that the FAA has placed requirements on drone operations that they don't place on pilots. If I'm flying a plane, I don't need a VO, or anyone else. My visual line of sight in an aircraft has greater restrictions than flying a drone. Yes we need to obey the law so we pay someone to stand around and do nothing, or look over your shoulder, it is a waste.
 

R.Perry

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WJK, throwing cheap shots and talking down to someone doesn't accomplish anything other than showing your ( Mod Removed )and inability to comprehend my point of view. A VO is only required if you can't continually watch the drone. Louis didn't say he was flying FPV without an observer. My point was having a VO in the most part is a waste of time. However there are times I find them useful, fetch my coffee and other mundane chores. My client doesn't require a VO, the safety people do, so we have a body hanging around the we refer to as a VO, normally one of the students. I'm a right wing republican so your assessment of me is right in line with the rest of your comment. Cheers
 
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Earthman

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Flying FPV? The law requires a visual observer. Why would you broadcast that?
Sorry, I don’t see where Lewis ever said that he was flying FPV. You appear to have assumed that he was. But I agree, it Is not smart to ignor the law let alone broadcast it.
 

dirkclod

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GUYS Lets not get to heated in this.
Also please let’s not be calling others
names, just report it and let staff take care
of it.
Thanks
.
 
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Earthman

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Please cite where the law requires a visual observer.
For commercial operations in the USA, 49 CFR Part 107 requires the PIC or an observer to maintain VLOS with the UAS, which would include using an observer if flying FPV. See 49 CFR § 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation, and § 107.33 Visual observer.


 
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clolsonus

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Agreed, sorry for my off the wall comment. WJK, my comment was inappropriate and I do apologize.
I thought your original post made a valid point. WJK threw a cheap shot out of nowhere. There are a number of things that I scratch my head over with the current part 107 approach. Visual observers are one of those things that sound better on paper than they usually work out in real life.

I know from personal experience that when a piper cub comes bombing in over the tree line at 125' AGL at my AMA sanctioned RC club field ... I don't even hear them coming until they are right over me. (Normally you hear aircraft miles before you can see them.) When it happened to me, I had about 0.75 seconds to react. When I'm flying fixed wing aircraft I can quickly cut throttle and dive and get into the safe zone below the tree line -- which is what I did. I've also had mosquito patrol helicopters come out of no where at our sanctioned RC club field.

But if I was flying a fully autonomous survey mission with a dji quad, what are you gong to do? It moves so slow even under manual control, it has to descend very slowly to stay out of it's own ring vortices. It's almost not worth disrupting the mission, and you just have to go on hope? I haven't seen a mission planning app for DJI that has an emergency avoid button, and lately (with drone deploy) I've even been struggling with lost connections during the flight (the hand controller is fine.) I've never seen anyone address this issue to any level of personal satisfaction/logic. If you add in a VO that is beyond the pilot's line of site communicating via radio or cell phone, just how do you execute an emergency "avoid" maneuver then? I am suggesting this all sounds way better on paper than it actually works in real life. Am I missing something? I don't hear these things talked about very much?

We purchased a mavic recently and I discovered if it's 100' away and I take my eyes off it for a second, I have a terrible time finding it again in the sky. It's crazy. I can pick out our phantom 4 way easier from a much further distance. How many people actually keep eyes on their drone 100% of the entire flight? I see youtube videos where people are sitting in their car talking the camera while the drone is in the air outside up there somewhere. I see maps people have made where they were obviously sitting inside the car while the drone was flying. I get it, it's boring, I live in MN and it can be brutally cold, but personally I stand outside and at least make the attempt to keep my drone in sight. I do have issues finding it again when I take my eyes off it for a second to check status on my ground station (especially the mavic.)

The FAA's breakdown between commercial and hobby makes perfect sense for full size airplanes. When you are carrying trusting passengers you have an extra level of responsibility, but makes no sense for drones when you aren't carrying people.

I can pass the FAA part 107 test with 70%. If I pass my private pilot written with 70%, I go on to be trained by a real instructor and all those mistakes get corrected. Then I need a check ride from an examiner who probably sees the things I missed on the written and pays special attention to my weak areas. But with part #107, I trot off with my 70% score to fly commercially ... so does that mean if I do something wrong (which I missed on the test) that I'm ok, because that was something I missed on the test (but I still got 70%?) I know that's not true, but I also know there are a lot of people (including myself) that bring a lot of confusion and misinterpretation of the rules to their work. I scored 100% on my most recent recertification test, but I know that I immediately started forgetting things, and I see issues come up online and other places that have me scratching my head.

Now we have RID coming down the pipeline which doesn't seem to do anything to enhance the safety of full size aircraft (where real lives are at risk.) The RID system lives in it's own sandbox completely separate from ATC and full size airplanes. I can build and fly a part 103 ultralight with zero tests, zero certification, zero tracking, pretty much zero rules. But 3 years from now, I won't be able to fly a paper airplane off my back deck without it being a felony.

I think we all want to do the right things and follow the regs down to the letter, but it doesn't always make sense to me or fit my practical observations. My brain has this desire to sort things out and make some sense of the chaos, but it struggles sometimes. :)
 
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aerialimagery

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For commercial operations in the USA, 49 CFR Part 107 requires the PIC or an observer to maintain VLOS with the UAS, which would include using an observer if flying FPV. See 49 CFR § 107.31 Visual line of sight aircraft operation, and § 107.33 Visual observer.


He stated it as if a VO is always required.
 

Earthman

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He stated it as if a VO is always required.
Yes, his statement may not have been as clearly worded as it could have been, which is something with which most of us struggle.

In any case, for commercial UAV flights, an observer is only required if the PIC or person controlling the UAV can’t maintain VLOS with the UAV, such as while flying FPV, or while looking away from the UAV to look at the video feed to compose a photo or video. So technically, the pilot should never break VLOS with the UAV unless an observer is there to maintain VLOS. The observer(s) also has to be able to communicate with to pilot so that the flight team can take effective evasive action should it be necessary to avoid manned aircraft and injury/damage to people and property on the ground (autos, people, etc.).
 

LUIS MARTINEZ

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Flying FPV? The law requires a visual observer. Why would you broadcast that?
FPV???? What's that? I'm a commercial operator, don't do FPV...thanks for the 107 refresher.
PS- I teach part 107....
PS2- I soloed in 1969, held a Commercial Pilot certificate since 1976...u think I'm qualified?

FPV!!!!!.png
 
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