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San Jose Police Department says FAA can't regulate its drone use

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Newly published documents show that the San Jose Police Department (SJPD), which publicly acknowledged Tuesday that it should have “done a better job of communicating” its drone acquisition, does not believe that it even needs federal authorization in order to fly a drone. The Federal Aviation Administration thinks otherwise. (arstechnica.com) 기타...

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WALLACE24
WALLACE24 14
The FAA needs to get it ass in gear. That said, flying is flying. If there is no order it's not gonna be pretty. Cops and municipalities are not exempt.
sparkie624
sparkie624 10
I think they may find that the FAA has more power than they think they do.
jkudlick
If the FAA is going to show they are in charge of the airspace, they need to come down hard now, otherwise they won't have a leg to stand on later.
jbbooks1
Faa thinks otherwise, me too. Drones and airliners don't mix.
WALLACE24
Don't mix well with Cessnas either.
preacher1
Well, right wrong or indifferent, there have been exceptions granted but this piece out of the story kinda sums it up “The newly disclosed documents raise serious questions about whether the police department did its homework before spending money on a drone that it cannot even legally use,” Catherine Crump, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Ars. “But more broadly, it is worth asking why the federal government is dispensing taxpayer money to local police departments to purchase equipment that the FAA has so far largely banned out of concern for public safety.” One Hand vs. the other. LOL
nasdisco
Chris B 4
Lets not have a tragedy with say a drone being sucked into an engine on take off or landing before the FAA has all the tools it needs to control and manage drone activity.
generalgrant
I think there is a valid concern from the FAA when you consider this is some of the most concentrated airspace in the country. Having any schmo from the police department tossing up drones is not a very comforting thought.
RECOR10
RECOR10 4
Once again, the cops over reach. The FAA needs to come HARD on these people.
clabo
Yah, well, I know I'm going to ruffle some feathers with the lawn-order types, but in general, from my own observations, cops regard the laws as applying only to others, never to themselves. Just witness how many copcars barely slow down at stop-signs, change lanes without signalling (I think I'd suffer a coronary if ever I'd witness it actually happen), cross HOV barriers at-will, speed, you name it.

Once I almost t-boned a copcar which slid through a red light (coming out from a side-street when I was on the main drag) and turned right in front of me when I had the green for at least 3-4sec. So he must've had the red for closer to 6-7sec.

*GUARANTEED* if I would have hit them, they would've insisted that *I* went through a red when they had the green.

FAA regs or not, I absolutely agree some PD yahoo would be more interested in what he's doing ignoring any/all airspace restrictions, and end up flying a drone right into someone's flightpath, and either smack into the windshield, get sucked into an engine, whatever.

Tragedy waiting to happen...
Bernie20910
"lawn-order"? Is that like the HOA "police" that come around to measure how tall your grass is?
Bernie20910
No jurisdiction? Gee, that lessens the possible trouble you can get into for using one as a skeet target... doesn't it? :D
WALLACE24
Probably every pilot on here is not necessarily a champion of the FAA, but we all realize the need for a "system". Technology has brought on a whole new era of flying machines. They have to be integrated into a system or we will have chaos. Remember, for every constructive use of these machines there is also an offsetting destructive use. Unlike regular aircraft these are available to every moron in the country for a few bucks with zero oversight.
fedexman2
"moron", "dumbass"..What the hell is your problem? You can't leave constructive comment on this site without calling people names or laughing at your own stupid "jokes". If you're a pilot why don't you go fly something or mow your lawn or go play with your kids or something else. It's okay to read stories on this site w/o commenting. Maybe you should try it.
WALLACE24
You're the same dickhead told Preacher to quit commenting. Quit reading JO!
tf51d
Huh?? Are you sure you posted this in reply to the post you intended? Nothing in WALLACE24's post could be considered name calling!
tomiata
We really could have made good use of one of these devices flying at 50 to 200 feet AGL six months ago when my agency was searching for the elderly woman that wandered out and away from her daughter's house at 4 AM. Equipped with an infrared camera would have really been great! The last traces of her body heat would have contrasted well against the cold ground. The dogs eventually helped us recover her body though. Thankfully those that didn't want us to have the dogs, because they didn't like the way they reminded them of Bull Connor, did not prevail. While the dogs didn't help save her, their use allowed the family the ability to have an open casket wake. Wildlife can do a number on a cadaver in no time. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for law enforcement to use drones and I am confident this particular instance would not have interfered with anyone's aircraft operations out of my home base airport located 8 miles to the East. Have a good day.
NF2G
A lot of people don't understand the whole debate, possibly including the FAA itself.

Drones are autonomous devices. Radio-controlled aircraft (which most of the systems commonly referred to in the media as "drones" really are) are not autonomous, and therefore not drones.

For either type of system, the sensible way to regulate is to require authorization, etc., for operating within controlled airspace. The places where SJPD and hobbyists contemplate flying are not generally within ATC control and should not fall under FAA jurisdiction.
WALLACE24
Really? What I understand is that a little RC/drone operated by joe blow can come up and take me out. I die and he buys another little RC/ drone. Duh!
NF2G
Nice straw man, but irrelevant. If you are flying in uncontrolled airspace, then you as pilot are responsible for avoiding collisions with other objects in said airspace. If the r/c aircraft is in controlled airspace, then the operator should be subject to all pertinent FAA regulations.

Midair collisions between "real" aircraft are also fatal, but there is no rational argument for banning airplanes.
wx1996
wx1996 1
What is the difference between a drone and my remote controlled model airplane? Just payload?

That is what the FAA needs to define. Commercial use is a start.
preacher1
That is one of the things they are wrestling with among others, but as WALLACE24 says below, they need to get with the program. A starting point is commercial airspace. It has never really been a factor with RC pilots as common sense and an understanding is pretty well established. A main factor on the drones and their pilots seems to be an attitude of you can't tell me what to do, I'll fly where I want to.
sparkie624
The difference between a "remote controlled model airplane" and a "drone" is fairly simply.. According to the Dictionary a drone is: "an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond line of sight". A Normal RC Planes requires someone on the ground to control it, and it does not do any of its thinking on its own. Technically some of the RC Quadcopters would qualify under the strict definition, because many have a Return To Home Feature.
joelwiley
Homeland security seems to trump everything else. Maybe they trump FAA jurisdiction? Which best illustrates 'out of control'?
tf51d
The FAA sort of loses it's argument it's for keeping the sky's safe, when they don't regulate use for hobby or pleasure. If it's dangerous for one, it's dangerous for both. I'm not a big fan for drone use for commercial use, but I do believe limited use for law enforcement like using them to scout a bomb instead of putting officers at risk is a valid use, and that type of use would most likely be at very low altitude. making it unlikely it would conflict with other traffic. Search and Rescue would be another valid use. I wouldn't be in favor of it's use with general surveillance though, at least without a warrant!
srmm88
limited low level use by law enforcement to keep officers out of harms way is no different than using a robot. There needs to be restrictions to be sure. What those restrictions are should come from the FAA and public comment. Coming out and saying we don't care what the FAA says is stupid
Bernie20910
I wonder what would happen if the FAA were to come up with a proper definition of a drone, then mandate that all such aircraft incorporate GPS tracking and ID, and a system whereby ATC (or other select law enforcement agencies) could issue a RTB and inhibit command that would return the aircraft to where it was launched from, land it, then disable it from flying again until that code was cleared from its memory. Such a system could easily be put on a single chip for just a few dollars (much like the GPS chip in the average cell phone), have minimal impact on flight time and battery life, and allow for immediate control of one being used in an improper or unsafe manner. Any drone without such a system, or one that is non-functional, would be illegal to import, sell or operate in the US, with appropriate penalties, including confiscation and destruction of the unit.
jmilazzo
My two cents! Anyone or any department who intends to fly a drone that Weighs 5 pounds or more over 25 feet should have a license. Furthermore they should be required to have some sort of operations manual approved by the FAA to include pilot qualifications, training requirements, fuel on board requirements, and safety of flight....... If I need one to use an iPad in the cockpit of my corporate jet they should need one to fly to drone. What's to prevent some untrained yahoo from running it out of gas during a police chase and crashing it into the windscreen of an oncoming car and killing them?
cappyswope
The FAA already has jurisdiction over all other state and local governmental aircraft. Class B and C airspace is controlled from the surface to varying altitudes. Beacons, nav lights and transponders for visual and enhanced radar location are required for flight in controlled airspace regardless of the registered owner or who is flying it. I see no reason why reason that a drone should not be subject to similar restrictions whether under human controll or GPS programming.
To be perfectly, I am not a fan of any drone flight other than under direct control of a responsible and competent human. Liability insurance is another issue which requires debate.
lynx318
lynx318 1
Correct me if I'm wrong (not American), but FAA only have authority over either "controlled air space" and "500 to what about 30 to 32,000ft" elsewhere. The rest of us are barred from national parks, public property & municipality (cities & towns). Police & Fire/rescue should be able to be exempt from all non FAA areas?
Bernie20910
That's the crux of the issue. Where does FAA control begin and end? It's not just a question of altitude or "controlled airspace". If that was the extent of it then it would be perfectly legal for me to get behind the controls of a 747 and fly where I wanted, so long as I stayed below 500'. It isn't because there are also regulations pertaining to types of aircraft, and that's what this whole issue really revolves around. Does FAA have control over these types of aircraft, or not? FAA says it does, SJPD says it does not.
gwwilk
If you could fly your 747 below 400' from your back yard, I would agree with you. Otherwise your example is just inane. The real world differs from the one from which you are imagining.
Bernie20910
So you actually believe that it would be perfectly legal to fly a 747 wherever you want, without a licence, so long as you kept it below 400'?

Are you interested in buying some bridges? I have a really nice selection I can offer you...
gwwilk
LOL! That's not what I said. I said you can't take off and land in your back yard with it. That's the difference between a 747 and a UAV weighing a pound or so with VTOL capability. To treat them the same is like treating a two story home the same as a 100 story skyscraper in terms of permits, construction, and required maintenance.

I believe you, indeed, ARE the one selling bridges. Good to see you recognize it...
gwwilk
The 'authority' of the FAA to regulate airspace below 400' is tenuous, not because they haven't armed themselves with the proper statutes, but because they have no hope of enforcing their regulations. Current enforcement is highly selective and therefore unjust while it invites corruption. The selective enforcement of the law is tyranny of a high order.

The FAA's airspace rules can only be enforced, economically and practically, if they enlist the help of state and local law enforcement agencies. Where air traffic below 400' isn't subject to live Air Traffic Control or doesn't represent a threat to national security the FAA needs to allow local control of said airspace.

When control is local, such agencies could require UAV operator permits after suitable education and signed documentation. These local permits could be required to legally operate any UAV, while always remaining in direct sight, for any purpose, commercial or not.

The FAA is has a dilemma with regard to UAV's, and heavy-handed, selective enforcement of extremely arbitrary rules will only further alienate 'we the people' who our government is intended to serve. Unfortunately they have thus far shown no proper insight regarding an equitable, safe solution for UAV operation.

Some years from now many of these UAV's will have become insect-sized and undetectable for all intents and purposes. I personally don't trust such technology in the hands of government agencies alone.

If the FAA had any sense, they would back off the SJPD. Making an 'example' of a law enforcement agency wins them no friends and alienates those with whom they must ally if there is to be any hope of an equitable, enforceable solution to the UAV 'problem'.
Bernie20910
I was with you 100% at the start, when you were railing against selective enforcement as being "tyranny of a high order". Then you went and shot yourself in the foot with the last sentence, where you yourself advocate selective enforcement in stating that the FAA should back off the SJPD in order to gain law enforcement allies.

Hypocracy at it's finest.
gwwilk
And just how do you propose that all those who break the FAA's arbitrary 'law' be caught? The FAA needs to cultivate local law enforcement allies in order to solve this UAV 'problem'. Do you honestly believe that making an example of the SJPD serves any useful purpose other than to allow the FAA to strut around like cocks of the walk flaunting their authority?

They is selective enforcement here either way you look at it! The FAA either selectively comes down hard on the SJPD or tries to work with them despite the FAA's ill-conceived rules.
Bernie20910
So SJPD should be above the law? Exempt from having to follow it?
gwwilk
You've never jaywalked? Driven a few miles over the speed limit? I consider this 'infraction' of similar import. After all, the SJPD isn't a terrorist organization which must be reined in at all costs. The SJPD serves and protects, just like the FAA should be doing. It's the FAA that's the problem here, not the SJPD.
Bernie20910
No, the problem here is the SJPD claiming the law does not apply to them, that they are above the law. What I may or may not have done in the past is irrelevant.
gwwilk
Who actually enforces 'The Law' in San Jose? Think carefully about how you want your children to live before you answer.

This is the proverbial 'Tempest in a Teapot' courtesy of our federal government.

Selective enforcement is selective enforcement on either side of this issue.
Bernie20910
Again, stick to the topic. Who enforces the law in San Jose and my children have nothing to do with this. Bottom line, we have a local PD thumbing their noses at a Federal agency and saying they won't comply with that agency's regulations. There can really only be one outcome here.
gwwilk
I'm talking about a local law enforcement agency purchasing a UAV in order to better serve and protect its citizens. I believe you're supporting the arrogation of what is essentially our rooftops by a federal agency. I disagree with them and you on how to logically and legally approach this issue and will have nothing more to say here.

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