333 Exemption process

Discussion in 'Flight Regulations' started by MIke Magee, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    I just got my 333. The biggest hurdle is getting in the que in time. My company some how did not get through the docket office in a timely manner. Apparently this is an issue that happens to 1 out of 50 petitions. I had seen people get theirs before mine and had submitted two months after me. Also if you are looking to do closed set motion picture filming, they scrutinize the petition further. The good thing we did, was we referenced every aircraft model that we requested with an existing petition number from another company. The FAA seems reasonable on this, as I did not have to submit manuals for every model that was already granted. The FAA considers for example the Inspire 1 and Inspire 1 pro as the same aircraft. The AFS-80 people get that most of tehse systems are not always standard so you do not need to specify if you are using a Cinestar 8 with Tiger motors vs KDE. They leave it up to your discretion to insure that it is flight worthy.

    On another note. I went to the Society of Aerial Cinematography conference at the Abelcine shop in Burbank this past Sunday. They had keynote speakers such as Jonathon Ruprecht, a big UAS attorney and the ICG rep, Michael Chambliss. According to the ICG, DGA and MPAA, when the NPRM 107 comes out. Closed set union productions will still require the pilot to have an FAA certificate. As far as they are concerned when dealing with talent and crew safety, they have no patience for the "Best Buy Dronogarapher."
     
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  2. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    Mike

    The FAA is very aware of this and they are getting pissed at the violators who get the 333 and do not fly with a pilot cert. The FAA believes most of the violators are the real estate crowed. But it happened recently on a closed set. It shut down production for the day. The pilot misrepresented himself to production I believe his 333 is suspended until he can prove to the FAA that he can comply. The FAA is starting to be more sensitive to this issue. As when I flew on set for another company that had a 333 before I got mine I had to submit all of my flying credentials to the film permit office and the FAA before we could get a special COA to operate inside 5 of a towered airport.

    The DGA, and IA 600 are well aware that this is going on that they are making drastic efforts to educate producers on what the 333 looks like as well as the COA process and the fact that the 333 must have the words "Are Permitted" in paragraph 2 concerning the permission to fly on closed film and TV sets. I believe this was another violation to aforementioned individuals 333 he was not not permitted to fly on production sets.

    Thanks for bringing this fact up.

    BTW, you do not need to own the aircraft at the time you request them in your petition. I requested 12 different models of potential systems that I may fly in the future. From all of the DJI series to the both Freefly Cinestar and Alta even thogh I don't own the Alta. I was approved on every system I asked for. Otherwise you have to submit an amendment for every new system.
     
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  3. MIke Magee

    MIke Magee Active Member

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    Sean, interestingly enough, I spoke at some length with Michael Chambliss about this closed set issue. 600 is looking for a handful of good, solid, professional (add a few more of your own desired qualifications here) to get into 600. RUMOR has it the many of the freefly cinema guys are in. They want to see how UAS operators (pilots and camops) will fit in and work in the 600 structure and policies. He was very passionate about keeping closed set UAS at or above the same standards that they have for their other members.

    We have Closed set on ours as well.

    Best Regards,
    m

    p.s. Thanks for the story on 333/pilot issue.


     
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  4. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    This entire process is broken. So the FAA makes 333 enforcement a higher priority than stopping the thousands of rogue operators? Every week someone new in my area posts work using no 333.

    I can honestly say that, aside from having a better understanding of airspace and regs, the 60 hours I spent sitting in the left seat of a 172 did nothing to make me a better or safer drone pilot than I already was.

    The 333 process was more about meeting existing statutory requirements and less about making commercial operations safer in reality.
     
  5. Steve Maller

    Steve Maller UAV Grief Counselor

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    I'm just going to say here that the AOPA and other professional organizations are quite keen on keeping their advantages over UAS operators, and some of these FAA hurdles smack of politics. I completely understand the FAA's concerns regarding safe operation in the NAS, but as James points out above, it's ridiculous that the only thing they've done so far to prevent random yahoos from violating the NAS is to publish some crafty PDFs about being safe, and announcing a program to put numbers on small UAVs.

    Let's count the number of accidents and fatalities involving manned aircraft vs. unmanned cinema drones, especially on closed sets, shall we?
     
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  6. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    It will be different responses from different FSDO's. There is no "Goon Squad" out there going after people. They don't have the manpower. They treat violations of regs equally. So when they become privy of it, whether it being a rogue pilot or a 333 violator they are compelled to act. So in some sense if one were to get a 333 w/o pilot cert they might as well fly rogue.

    The problem that the FAA sees right now is that there are no sht people who get their 333 from these fly by night sites who just submit their info in a boilerplate don't even to bother to read the thing when they get it. They take the front paper and show it to a prospective client that they are legal and don't bother to mention the pilot cert requirement. IMO this worse than the rouge guy because that person is misrepresenting their credentials to clients and it is hurting us all who are doing it right. IT's making some prospect business not worth it because now there are people charging a few hundred bucks to whiz a phantom around who should not be doing it.

    There are several reasons for the pilot requirement. One is as you stated you know the regs. That's important to understand how to navigate the 61 and 91. Does it make you a better RC pilot? No, I flew predators for the USAF and that was a whole different ballgame to a 4 foot multi rotor. The pilot cert is something that is tangible where you acknowledge that you understand the regs and will abide by them.

    I am just frustrated as you are with some of this. As when I initially started using the 333 I got push back from the FAA to actually use it in certain airspace that it was very clear we were not going to be a conflict with safety. But I had a tower manager who was very hesitant to make a decision until his regional boss would look at our proposed flight which was .15 miles inside his ring out in a psuedo-remote area. As I got to get a comfort level from them, now the process is much much smoother. The FAA is trying to smooth out the process to those who are doing it right. They are aware that if they make the process to difficult then people will start to disregard it all together.

    The guys in AFS-80 office have a bullshit job where they are trying to please everyone from ALPA, local governments and other entities. They are charged with keeping the airspace and public safe from things that fly. From my talks with the FAA they would see a guy who had been flying RC for 20 years as competent. The problem is that there are maybe a couple thousand who fit that category versus the 700,000 who went to "Best Buy," to become a drone pilot. Those are the headaches that they are dealing with, all the while getting push back from the AMA who thinks that the FAA is out of bounds for regulating the industry.
     
  7. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    Yes, a totally politically driven exercise. To try and find logic in all this is a fools errand. No registration for an ultralight or assault rifle but needed for a half pound drone. Why not require registration of laser pointers as they are, so far, a bigger threat to full size aviation.

    The AOPA did everything within their power to stall the 333 process. Once you get your license to fly your drone legally, they start sending monthy membersip applications. Are they really that clueless?

    My local news station has been using rogue drone footage weekly. The station/operator has no 333 and the FAA just looks the other way.
     
  8. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    Shaun,

    The main reasons for the pilot cert is it is an existing legacy requirement to operate any commercial aircraft plus the pilot must pass the background check.

    The FAA dropped the airworthiness cert (equivalent level of safety instead) but stated they didn't have authority to drop the pilot cert in the 2012 reauthorization. Seemed like cherry picking to me but I am no aviation attorney. The airman's knowledge is secondary, hence why it will be dropped in part 107 in favor of a knowledge test only.
     
  9. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    Steve

    I count three in my local area. One of my cam op's was on two of them while I was out of town. He was on set doing other work at the time. Two crashes within two weeks of each other on two separate productions. One crash,the guy ran the battery down until it fell out of the sky. The other crash happened when the aircraft was experiencing a fault and would not start. The pilot kept cycling the battery until he finally got it to start. He throttled up and the aircraft lost link and started going out of control in a toilet bowel for a minute until started to drift with the wind before settling down and rolling over on the battery.

    A third guy flew an Inspire near talent and lost orientation and aborted into a tree. Luckily in all three incidents no one got hurt. The third incident came very close. The first pilot was skilled but also very reckless and was willing to take unnecessary risks to the point my cam op almost walked off set prior to the second crash citing safety concerns to the 1st AD. Both pilots misrepresented their credentials to the production. One guy had a good reputation in the industry for non drone work but that is fast coming to an end as we speak.

    There needs to be a system to control who is allowed to do this. I will say that the film industry is doing a better job self policing than the other industries. As the MPAA, DGA and the IA Local 600 are going out of their way to educate producers on who to hire. Unfortunately, there are producers mostly in the lower budget tiers out there willing to hire someone who has never been on set to get the shot as cheap as possible. This is where the above organizations are trying to prevent the first "Sarah Jones" incident with drones. No ones been hurt yet, but there is a first for everything. We have seen many people crash into crowds with big systems like Skyjibs and Cinestars because they were not being safe.

    I am working side by side with another legit company in Albuquerque along with the IATSE to put a kabash on it.
     
  10. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    My understanding on the airworthiness issue was that there already was a precedent to allow some commercial ops with manned aircraft like the Aircam twin engine light sport aircraft that had not met the standard requirement.
     
  11. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    We have been engaging with Michael as well, as to curb the problems we have been having in New Mexico. I am impressed with his in depth knowledge of these systems and can speak on them very intelligently.

    Interestingly enough we just brought on board a former Freefly Assistant Camera Op, who recently moved home to Santa Fe from Seattle, to be the required 3rd hand on set. Its nice to have someone local who knows the equipment that I do not have to train.
     
  12. Steve Maller

    Steve Maller UAV Grief Counselor

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    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Shaun! Let's hope there's some light at the end of the tunnel.
     
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  13. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    It's probably fair to say that the majority of the 2500+ exemption holders are not operating 100% in compliance with every requirement. This horrendous process makes doing so nearly impossible while effectively running a business. It can take up to 6 months to get an ammendment approved. That is an eon for a technology moving as fast as this one. There couldn't be more than a couple of Altas fully approved for operation right now but plenty out there working.
     
  14. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    I agree on that part. The process to get new equipment approved is a little burdensome. My trick was to request as many possible systems out there when I applied. I have about a dozen potential systems on mine that I don't own, but could fly, including the Alta. My take on it is the current system is not ideal, but it is better than what we had a year ago when the answer was a flat out no.
     
  15. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    We have KRQE 13 flying an Insipire "Sky Drone 13," by one of their manned helicopter pilots. We found out that the station was using a 333 from their parent company out of Virginia.

    When we searched for KRQE in the 333 registry we did not find it. After further investigating we found out the parent company owns a bulk of the local stations around the country. Not saying this is the case in your situation.

    If you think they are flying illegally I would report it and force the FAA"s hand. I agree with you that the FAA should be hammering down on people not following the rules, otherwise they have an unfair advantage and are able to steal business. They should not be allowed to do so.
     
  16. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    At this point in time this whole process is more about checking boxes on forms than really accomplishing something tangible related to safety. Your example proves this. They approved an aircraft without ever seeing a manual for it. You really would have accomplished about the same thing by saying I plan to fly X aircraft that weighs less than 55 lbs. and nothing more.

    The current approach has about the same chances of success as alcohol prohibition did back in the 20's - 30's. I'm not sure a really bad process is actually better than no process at all at the end of the day. The fact that the proposed part 107 does not include an actual flight check by an examiner dooms it to be a failure also. The FAA wants drone operators to think of themselves as real airmen but then does a half a$$ed job applying the time tested principles that have made the manned aviation system work. Even the people that work in the trenches at the FAA quietly confess that their leadership is floundering. It is clear they are simply throwing darts at the board trying to give the impression of real progress in order to assuage the political powers. If the commercial drone industry was backed by an organization like the NRA for example, this boat would be on an entirely different course right now.
     
  17. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    That is not the case here. A local guy with a non registered Inspire (not a pilot either) is shooting events and sending it to the station to promote his rogue drone business. The station is using the footage and saying it is courtesy of their friends at XXX thinking it is all good since they did not acquire it themselves. In any case it does not meet the test of being a recreational use.

    When I started into this process I was just disappointed with these sorts of things. Now that I have much, much more invested in becoming "legal", my emotional state is somewhat more elevated.
     
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  18. Shaun Stanton

    Shaun Stanton Active Member

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    In this case the FAA had previously seen the manuals. We referenced another companies petition that had a specific model approved. As far as the FAA was concerned when questioned, was that they did not need to see thousands of DJI Phantom manuals, etc. There are some sytem's that do not have robust manuals that we had to create, like the Cinestar for instance. We made a manual based off of other systems like a DJI S1000 but tailoring it to our Cinestar.


    I 100% agree with your sentiment as well. I find it troubling if all someone needs to do is ground school and a best buy card and now they can fly commercially without having to do any training or show prior practice at all. I think they should use the same practice that they did when they created light sport category, where they grandfathered ultra-lite experience as airmanship experience for a light sport ticket up to a certain date to apply towards that rating. Those who never flown one before have to get training.
     
  19. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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    Sorry Shaun but I don't follow that to be a 333 PIC you only need ground school. Minimum is a sport pilot license isn't it? That requires some form of actual flight training in an powered parachute/balloon/rotor/aircraft.
     
  20. James Adkins

    James Adkins Member

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    Gary,

    That's my fault. I had changed gears a couple replies back discussing how the proposed part 107 rules don't require any licensing or flight testing.
     

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