With reference to your article on the Bebop Drone, it describes the thrill of flying the copter out of direct visual sight. The rules strictly prohibit out-of-sight use for the very specific reason that the VHF control systems are purely ‘line-of-sight’, beyond which a drone risks being out of control. The re-land button described will also not work once the drone is out of sight/range.
As a professional pilot, I am both interested in these flying machines and, in equal measure, horrified at the thought of them flying around out of control and heading my way. Even an 800g machine represents a threat to other aircraft, and if ingested into the hot section of a jet engine will likely cause terminal damage followed by failure, fire, or both. These machines are being sold in their thousands, without training, and in the wrong hands present a clear threat to life. I think the article inadvertently risks encouraging potentially dangerous and illegal use. The Civil Aviation Authority rules (http://bit.ly/ mfaviation) are simple and clear: line of sight only, 400-foot maximum height, outside a three-mile radius of aerodrome traffic zones, and away from persons, vessels, vehicles or structures. Peter Bruce
Christian Hall says… You make an interesting point, Bruce, and it is worth highlighting the dangers. We tried to minimise this danger by flying over fields in good conditions, at a height of about 12 metres max. As the ‘return to home’ button relies on GPS it works out of sight, just not out of range – around 300m with the Bebop. Drone flying, if you’ll excuse the pun, is really taking off, so the European Aviation Safety Agency is developing EU-wide safety standards, which it says will be as high as those for manned aircraft. Given the popularity of drone video footage though, the authorities will have a battle on their hands to stop the YouTube generation from flying drones where they shouldn’t!
In the future, drone pilots will have to adhere to much stricter safety rules.