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Terry

Is flying FPV a real risk to full size aviation?

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Is flying FPV a real risk to full size aviation or do some guys just panic ?

It come up from time to time when someone flys high or out of sight, there is always one or two than panic and say it could bring down an aircraft. Well maybe its one for myth busters?

Could a foam Easystar or Twinstar flying at 20mph bring down a plane? well yes it could maybe if it got sucked into a jet?

Would it be worse than sucking in a seagull? I dont think so.

What about light aircraft? Well I dont see how. In fact the only way I think it would even be possable is if you hit the pilot in the head and what are the chances of that?

Dont get me wrong I am in favour of safty but I think we need to keep it real. If we fly away from areas that are known to have regular air traffic and not fly over towns the real risk to anyone is tiny.

My GF gliders of 20 years ago were often at 1500ft or more and when I saw a full size aircraft heading towards it I had no real idea if turning or diving would help. 3m GF gliders were and probably still are a much higher risk to full size aircraft but nobody ever says a thing about them. Still the risk is tiny and back then there was not the same panic so why do we panic at FPV?

I dont want to start a silly season on FPV safty (maybe too late) but do any of you worry that your not flying safe?

Terry

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What about light aircraft? Well I dont see how. In fact the only way I think it would even be possable is if you hit the pilot in the head and what are the chances of that?

Well, non-zero...

P1260546.jpg

Can't really see from that angle, but the plane in the foreground and with the bunch of policemen next to it has a big crack/hole in the windshield perfectly aligned with the pilot's head... and was caused by a collision with an R/C airplane (not FPV).

As you say the probability for a collision is very low, it's even lower to be right in the pilot's head, then it's a photo I have taken, at a place where I've been only 3 times in my life, those guys were there only for a couple of hours,...

So something with chances of pretty much nothing, times even less, multiplied by almost zero can still yield an occurrence ;)

That aside, I'm pretty sure the worrying is simply due to the way people do and talk about FPV. There have always been regulations, height separations in place to avoid overlapping traffic. Of course, some glider pilots have always broken the height limits, but usually at their model flying field, that's known by full scale pilots, and away from big airways, and it was occasional and nobody would talk about it.

The way FPV goes is quite different, firstly people fly everwhere, not in "controlled" places anymore, and especially everybody is happy and proud of putting tons of evidence of alleged rule-breaking online everytime they fly. Pretty natural some start asking questions... when they end on RCGroups, see the number of pilots, and that most of the many videos posted everyday clearly break rules and go beyond what was possible before...

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I've noticed that Darwin has been failing us lately; All it might take is one stupid lug-head out there to ruin our hobby. That said, one concern to ponder is the bad publicity to our hobby if a near-miss is reported. Sometimes the news reporters have a slow day and such a thing could turn into a nasty headline for us. Our hobby needs family fun stories, which rarely make it to prime news.

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big crack/hole in the windshield perfectly aligned with the pilot's head... and was caused by a collision with an R/C airplane (not FPV).

What size airplane was it? I bet it was not a foam one. It seems even that did not bring the plane down ;)

model flying field, that's known by full scale pilots

These days lots of electric aircraft are flown from any handy space and even in the past I can remember our club field being overflown at low level by military aircraft well under 500ft so even that was not safe.

yep maybe we should go back under the radar as it were and remove our videos to avoid the bad press but Im still interested to know if any of us here feel more unsafe while flying FPV than regular rc.

Terry

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Terry

I don't think you are at all raising a silly season scenario …. while the risk is indeed statistically very small, the consequences – from both the accident outcome perspective, as well as follow on legislation perspective – could, potentially be very significant. Put it this way – there wouldn’t be any liberalization of the hobby.

If you read aviation model flying regs (as legislated by regional aviation authorities) the concern regards risks, in much of the legislation, that models can pose comes down to the force they potentially stand to impart if they hit something , or are hit by something (the ground, an aircraft, a moving car, a pedestrian, some ones pet, attendees at an air show …. whatever).

A large “foamy” @ 50knts is its self unlikely to do much real world damage, however the comparatively small but very solid alloy/steel/copper DC motor, which could be anything from the mass/volume of a golf ball to, in large model cases the mass/volume of a grapefruit, at 50knts (or, if added to the speed of an aircraft, as much 250knts – 300knts) if it strikes the windshield of a small private plane has the potential for catastrophic outcome.

The media will have a field day at the expense of 99.9999…. % of fliers, who never would have an accident like that – and notice, I say accident, because an accident is just that. You may well be following the rules & regs, it may well be that the plane you collide with at 350ft AGL is at fault (as it most probably will be if flying around at 350ft!), it may well be a manufacturing fault in your ARTF model (Almost Ready To Fly) that resulted in loss of control …… I can think of 101 possible genuine accident scenarios, but the media will still have a field day if there is [serious] injury to persons or property.

As for deliberate “mischief” making with an RC model ….. God forbid! It’s not as if a “9/11 type incident” wasn’t foreseen. It was, for years before it happened it was the stuff of nightmares for aviation security policy makers all over the world for many years before it happened. Like Quantas, who for many years deliberated steered away from their accident free record for marketing, so did aviation experts shy away from discussing “9/11 type incident”.

Look now how it has changed the face commercial aviation for the public. Can you imagine the consequences on the comparatively small RC model flying community (& pro-lobby)? Auto-pilots & on board cam’s will almost certainly be outlawed (overnight!) or at the least, so heavily regulated by way of due diligence hurdles to be satisfied that the average hobby flyer will not be able to fly – never mind the additional flying restrictions that will be added to what are already a fairly substantial set of safety motivated rules & regs.

Both risks are small, and chances are – deliberate or accidental - the outcomes would in hindsight be looked back on with relief (i.e. could have been worse), but its no “silly season” scenario. This hobby has got off to a good start and the model RC/FPV/UAV flying community is overwhelmingly a mature & responsible group of like minded folk quite capable of policing its self – let’s keep it this way.

Patrick

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Hi Patrick, thanks for your very complete reply. :)

This hobby has got off to a good start and the model RC/FPV/UAV flying community is overwhelmingly a mature & responsible group of like minded folk quite capable of policing its self – let’s keep it this way.

We already are loosing the battle to police ourselves. :(

Yes a good start but with more and more plug and play stuff available and even FPV flying toys now I think we (the responsible group) are loosing control of our hobby. It is the new game and flight sim group getting involved that are the higher risk, I cringe every time I see a first post by a newbie that says "I want the longest range I can get".

The highest risk flyers probably don’t even know about the rules and would ignore them anyway.

We have been given a set of silly rules by the BMFA in the UK as they didn’t even bother to consult their members that had been flying FPV for years before writing them. The rules seem to be written to make the CAA happy and not to give a Sensible level of safety.

Over the top rules do nothing for safety as they will be side stepped or just ignored. I agree we need rules as the numbers of FPV flights is getting higher all the time, the many high profile flights seen on the internet have helped fuel this. I just think it is being done wrong :(

The media will have a field day at the expense of 99.9999…. % of fliers, who never would have an accident like that
So dose that mean we must just accept any restrictions?

Anyway back to the question, do you feel safe flying FPV?

Terry

Edited by Terry

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