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The COA-Cast – Ask the FAA Podcast

This is the first of hopefully other podcasts where I talk directly to the FAA and get the facts and information from the source.

In this podcast, I talk with John Meehan from the FAA and we talk a deep dive into flight under a COA and investigate the landmines and pitfalls most pilots and departments are not aware of.

John is an Aviation Safety Analyst in the Aviation Safety Line of Business, Office of Flight Standards, Commercial and General Aviation Safety Division located at FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC. John’s role is to provide technical support, subject matter expertise, and UAS related outreach support to the general aviation UAS flying public, and provides UAS specific training and support to FAA Flight Standards District Offices and FAASTeam Program Managers. He also assists in the development of UAS concepts, policies, standards, procedures and guidance related to the safe integration of UAS into the NAS.

John is a graduate of West Point and former US Army Helicopter Instructor Pilot and served just over 5 years in the Army as an Aviation Officer before getting his MBA from Boston College. His civilian career has been mostly with private industry, in International Sales and General Management positions. He has worked at three Aircraft Manufacturing companies and run Fixed Base Operations at Stewart Airport in New York and Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia. Prior to joining the FAA, John was most recently the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Global Sales at Wyvern Ltd, an aviation risk management company based in Yardley, PA.

John holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument rating rotary-wing, a Private Pilot Rating with Instrument rating, single-engine land airplane, and a UAS Remote Pilot Certificate.

If you ever wanted to learn more about COAs and flying under a COA, this is the podcast you must listen to.


  • Why the new drone pilot of today is a danger as an accidental aviator.
  • You are a real pilot flying a real aircraft and you have the same responsibilities as every other aircraft pilot flying in the sky.
  • What all-new drone pilots missed and set them up for unlimited liability.
  • Expertise is available if you reach out for it. A lot of local assistance is available.
  • Congress created the rules that COA pilots operate under.
  • The history of COAs.
  • Be careful of COA flights that are not eligible.
  • COA pilots and the named responsible person named in the COA personal liabilities and exposure to being sued personally.
  • The first question the FAA is going to ask in a ramp, accident, or incident check.
  • Your department is a person.
  • A public aircraft crash where people went to jail.
  • What Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) actually means under a COA and why most people are doing it incorrectly.
  • The FAA wants everyone to be able to fly BVLOS.
  • COAs still require a Visual Observer even under a BVLOS flight.
  • Case law is coming. Just because there is no drone legal interpretation of the regulations published yet does not mean flight decisions are not non-compliant with the Federal Aviation Regulations.
  • Weather is important. It can keep you on the ground.
  • The surprising facts of accidents that have happened.
  • Why a safety culture change is needed.
  • The liability of anyone in your flight department with a hazardous attitude.
  • The results of recent COA accidents and the findings.
  • Is it even possible for a COA drone to be determined to be airworthy?
  • You are a flight department of one to all pilots.
  • If you have a local public safety manned aircraft department, they are your friend.
  • The limiting factors of regulations but why that can be helpful to you from management.
  • Why volunteer fire departments are not eligible to fly under a COA.
  • How your COA flight can fall outside the rules and drop you into civil aircraft rules.
  • Why COAs are walking into a giant minefield with a bayonet.
  • Why public safety manned helicopter pilots will not fly under their COA.
  • COAs add two sets of rules you have to remember.
  • The pros and cons of COAs.
  • When a COA is a big advantage to some flights.
  • Your COA does not allow you to fly over department staff, even momentarily, except for a few specific members.
  • What a qualified non-crew member.
  • The FAA expectation of what it means for a COA pilot to be certified.
  • COAs increase complexity and falling outside the rules.
  • COA malfunction reporting requirements.
  • Why you need to hunt down helipad operations staff ahead of time.
  • In a metro area it would make it near impossible for a Tactical BVLOS compliant flight because of helipads.
  • When a COA can be really good.
  • Why you should start budgeting now for type certified drones when they hit the market.
  • If you are doing any FEMA or compensated flights it is better to do it under Part 107.
  • Under a COA you can only fly a handful of flight types.
  • Training flights are not permitted as COA flights.
  • The documents all COA pilots need to carry.
  • The types of COA drones that must be registered with the FAA. Surprise!
  • Where you can turn to for guidance and support at the FAA.
  • Technology limitations that are restricting flight today.
  • What drones will look like in five years.


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You’re listening to the public safety drone flight podcast.

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Your source of real-world actionable aviation information for fire departments, police departments and law enforcement agencies.

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This is the critical information you need to be an exceptional pilot and help save lives with flight and now your host public safety flight Chief Pilot steve Road.

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Hi, this is Steve Rhode. Your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website.

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Be sure to visit psflight.org to get in on my private email list.

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Read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety drone questions.

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That’s psflight.org.

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Or if that trips you up, you can land in the right place by using publicsafetyflight.org.

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Today. We’re joined by John Meehan from the kind and friendly.

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FAA john works in the office that has a giant title, but the part we all care about is his role to provide technical support and subject matter expertise on US issues.

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He’s involved in the talk around the FAA when it comes to drone concepts, policies, standards, procedures and guidance and when it comes to aviation in general, John is no slacker.

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He holds a helicopter commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating as well as single engine land and a UAS remote pilot certificate.

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John graduated from West Point and as a former Army helicopter instructor pilot jOHN welcome to the podcast.

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Well, thank you steve and yes, I’m from the Friendly Aviation Administration and if you listen to what we talked about today, you won’t meet the unfriendly part of the FAA.

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So thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

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Let’s start off with what I think is the elephant in the room.

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It’s the accidental aviator that’s a term that I came up with to describe new people in the drone space that never had a previous interest in aviation and only got involved through an interest in flying drones and public safety.

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The path to become a certificated pilot misses a lot of general education, an awareness that the FAA considers them to be aviators,

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flying real aircraft and taking flight operations as seriously as an American airline pilot. Is that right?

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Yeah. It’s one of our, in fact, I think it’s probably on the unmanned aircraft side of the house. It’s probably our biggest challenge is to communicate with.

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Of a new group of aviators and I like the fact that you said these are real aviators flying real aircraft and their operating in the national airspace system because that’s how we look at them.

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And we’ve got a bunch of new.

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aviators who are operating in the national airspace system who really if the prior knowledge about the FAA was somebody complained to about seat pitch in an airline or lost baggage right?

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And they don’t really understand that.

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Now you have a flight department and now you’re operating in the same airspace as that helicopter unit is operating in or that ag aircraft people or that ultralight vehicle person flying around.

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So uh and I think that’s a big challenge for us, particularly the FAA.

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Because if you look at how we were structured for the last But 80 years or so since the uh well the FAA came around in the 50s.

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But ever since then the only people we ever really dealt with were.

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People who had a mentor to take them all the way through from the moment they said you know I think I’m gonna get my student pilot license right and uh and they had a teacher, a coach, a mentor.

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Well, we don’t have any of that on the unmanned side of the house and,

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any I call it a guy with a box of quarters, hang a shingle out and declare himself you know I’m an expert, listen to what I say and people don’t know any better.

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So I think this is one of the reasons I’m participating on your webinar steve’s because a big part of my job is to help get that word out and help,

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help these new aviators understand that when you lift that thing off the ground you’re in.

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You’re in a national airspace system and that system stretches from one Adam above the grass all the way up to space.

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And it’s, it’s, I think a big part of the challenge also is the perception of risk and what we can talk more about that later if you want. But yeah, it’s a big challenge for us.

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You know, one of the things I’ve talked about is, uh, and I don’t have a grudge against any of our new accidental aviator pilots.

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And the issue that I see is that they just don’t know what they don’t know yet.

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And so, you know, we, we just need to educate them and bring them on board.

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You’re absolutely right. What they missed was what manned aircraft pilots had to go through, which was hours and hours and hours in a cockpit with a mentor and whether that was the flight instructor,

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or just hanging out at the airport and listening to other people’s yeah, grasp.

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Just get in the cockpit. You gotta go through painful hours and hours and hours of ground school first.

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Yeah, yeah. You know, it’s the things that you absorb, like I can remember in my training guys that I knew through training and went through training with, went on to the airlines.

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And because of those relationships, you know, we had discussions about flight safety management systems and aviation departments. And so I kind of learned through osmosis and our drone pilots just don’t have that.

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Well, I, I, you know, it’s interesting. I think they have it if they want to leverage it.

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Uh, and, but to your point where they don’t know what they don’t know.

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Uh, I keep encouraging any particular public safety entity if you’re a part of a state or a county.

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The odds are that that county has got a helicopter unit And those are, they’ve been flying those helicopters for a long time. I think there are over 350 helicopter units out there in the United States, something like that. And uh.

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They’re not leveraging those people, they’re not leveraging the huge network of certified flight instructors that are sprinkled throughout the country at any airport with a flight school they’re out there.

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But to your point uh this new group really doesn’t know about that.

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And so that’s hopefully part of the message that we can jointly get out today is hey there are resources out there that you may not,

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have considered that can really help you and uh and want to help you and uh yes we can absolutely find them.

00:07:12.155 –> 00:07:13.785
John there’s so much to talk about.

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I’ve got loads of questions but I wanted to focus this on something uh one topic.

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So let’s do a co a cast. That’s a cast.

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Let’s just talk about co a question. So a COA is a certificate of waiver or authorization and it’s just one of the subjects that we can take a deep dive into.

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But it really applies to public safety aviators and a lot of the misinformation that’s floating around out there.

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So so I feel like this is this is a 12 hour, well hopefully this is the first of many ask the F.A.A.

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The podcast so that we can get the word out. And I honestly I feel like I’ve been on a crusade trying to get the departments to understand what their role and risks are when deciding to fly under a co. And it gets pretty complicated, doesn’t it?

00:08:09.555 –> 00:08:21.865
It’s extremely complicated and, I share that passion with you whenever I hear a public safety entity and I monitor the U.

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The Support centers inbox and I see them coming in every day and hey we’re a fire department or were whatever right there.

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There, fire department, police departments, county tax offices, uh public relations office.

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I mean there from all over the fish and wildlife people right there all public entities and they all have this perception.

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Well, if I can fly as a public aircraft and no rules apply and I can do whatever I want, Right?

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And so, so, uh, if you’re thinking about this concept of the COA, I guess the first point is that these are very complicated,

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uh, subjects because, and, and just to give you one quick example, uh huh.

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These operate under a legal statute that Congress created and not everybody out there who’s a public entity, public service or public safety entity. Not every one of them is eligible for this COA thing.

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Uh, and not only that, but even if you are eligible.

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And we’re seeing this more and more by the way, even if you are eligible to get a COA to operate.

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Many times, the missions that are being flown are not eligible to be flown as a public aircraft, which means the COA is not applicable, which means you’re under Part 107, which is what we call a civil rule.

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And you know, again, right, People are like, what the heck are you talking about public aircraft rules That are under 14 CFR Part 91.

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And then we have Civil aircraft rules which are also under 14 CFR Part 91, but also Part 107 is called the civil rule.

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But a lot of helicopter units for example, fly as a civil aircraft as well.

00:10:20.103 –> 00:10:29.293
It’s so this just gives you a little sampling of how complicated it is. And we’re just talking about who’s eligible. We haven’t really talked about what’s in it. Right.

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Well, my, my most important message, I try to get across all public safety pilots is an awareness about their personal responsibilities to fly compliant lee within the federal aviation regulations.

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The core requirements, the aircraft operational limitations, any local or state regulations because an accident or incident can result in them being held personally responsible for the flight.

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And it can and will lead to more civil liability lawsuits in the future. As attorneys get more clued in.

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A typical shotgun lawsuit will name the state, the county, the department and the pilot to extract as much money as possible.

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So if I’m a pilot flying under a COA for a public safety department and it turns out my flight violated the rules or didn’t comply, surely the department can shield me from any personal responsibility. Right.

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Not from the FAA, uh huh.

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You know, they’re, so when you fly under a COA, you’re flying under 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91 And part 91.

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That means you have to comply with those rules and even as a public entity or a public aircraft.

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And there’s, I think there are three or four rules within the part 91 that public aircraft are exempt from only, there’s a less,

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less than you can count on a hand, all the rest of them and the way you distinguish that is no civil aircraft.

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And so that means, well, where there’s no civil aircraft, that means, okay, public aircraft is an example. I think there’s less than five, something like that.

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Don’t hold me to that number, but, But you’re flying under part anyone and part 91 has a provision in there,

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uh that says the pilot in command is responsible for essentially everything that happens with that aircraft and that means, and drones are aircraft.

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And so this is so I’m glad you bring that up because I think a lot of folks are under the misconception that hey, I have, we have, I think I hear the buzz word sovereign immunity, right?

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Not from the FAA, you don’t.

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And uh so and that and frankly,

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anybody who knows me knows that I use the analogy of everybody’s all smiles until someone hits a bus-driven driven by a nun full of orphans and it crashes, you know, uh and I use that because that’s a sympathetic victim case.

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And of course, all the smiles will go away and then the FAA is going to show up and they’re gonna start asking a lot of questions because they’re required to because we’re looking to, you know, they’ll somebody, but any time there’s a complaint or,

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uh an accident or an incident, we by law have to investigate it.

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Uh and so we’re going to come and ask them questions. And uh and the one of the.

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Part 91 says that the pilot in command is responsible for those decisions and not only that the pilot in command, but the uh,

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there’s also a term used in the federal regulations called a person and the definition of a person,

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it’s not just a human, it can be an entity we have in a lot of these COAlas, there’s a person called a responsible person and we can talk about that more if you want, but essentially to your to answer your question.

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No, you cannot escape the grip of the FAA if the FAA wants to touch you.

00:13:57.055 –> 00:14:08.975
Uh and uh and we won’t bother you typically unless you do something naughty or you hurt somebody and touching you can mean things as much as civil penalties too.

00:14:09.955 –> 00:14:22.815
Yes, they could. Uh, you know, the, and there are cases where I believe that a good example for folks to read is the Canyon helicopter crash that happened years ago, people went to jail.

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Over that. And uh and it was it related to I think a helicopter crash with a bunch of wildland firefighters.

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They were killed people and they were flying as a public aircraft and people went to jail.

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So that is a good point to raise and another reason why I always suggest that people go talk to your helicopter unit because the helicopter unit has this aviation safety culture.

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And I think now after many decades I think the leadership understands that there are times when the pilot in command has to say I’m sorry I cannot do this mission safely and I can’t fly.

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And uh and I think people get it with a helicopter.

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I don’t think people quite get it.

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And when I say people I mean the leadership doesn’t quite understand that the pilot can say no and should say no sometimes.

00:15:16.412 –> 00:15:28.662
Yeah absolutely. So can you dive into the role of the responsible person with the COA because they are probably not even a pilot, but they’ve got lots of responsibility and oversight, right?

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Yeah, they do. Uh you know, when when you fly as a public aircraft, the oversight of the F. A. A.

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Is pretty limited. And that’s because the FAA.

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Is relying on the COA holder, the entity and the responsible person two ensure compliance and they are accountable.

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So if your name is on that COA as the responsible person,

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you need to understand that, you know, let’s say, God, forbid there’s uh an accident, somebody gets hurt that uh that you are on the hook as well as the pilot.

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And uh and the entity is on the hook because of the FAA.

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When you go sign up as a public aircraft, you’re essentially signing up for oversight, a lot of oversight activities, and a lot of compliance assurance.

00:16:18.442 –> 00:16:29.262
Uh and you know, when you have to kind of go back, I think if you really want to understand what is this whole concept of public aircraft, you have to go back, I think, to the 70s.

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Okay, when?

00:16:32.408 –> 00:16:37.278
The Vietnam War was drawing down. There was a ton of helicopters that were surplus. Right. What?

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And it was a waste to just send them to the scrapyard. Why not let these state and local entities use these things? Well, there was a problem with those because none of them had a civil airworthiness certificate.

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And uh, and how can we allow these entities to do this? Well, they created this.

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That was one of the reasons. I’m not saying it’s the only reason. But uh.

00:17:02.308 –> 00:17:07.618
They, this enabled them to fly these aircraft without an area where their certificate and,

00:17:08.108 –> 00:17:17.928
the oversight shifted from the FAA, not all of it, but a good part of the oversight and compliance shifts to the entity that does it.

00:17:17.928 –> 00:17:22.628
And they, it was only done for limited people, limited organizations rather.

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Uh, and now, of course with us, it’s blown the doors open, right?

00:17:27.458 –> 00:17:42.418
And I call it the tsunami effect. And uh, so now entities that were, let’s just say, entities that are much less sophisticated than a large fleet of helicopter operators can, can fly as a public aircraft because that’s the way the statutes were written.

00:17:43.008 –> 00:17:47.048
But there’s, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong.

00:17:47.058 –> 00:17:52.748
Uh, and a lot of people need to go into a COA with their eyes open.

00:17:52.758 –> 00:18:05.428
Well, so one thing I hear over and over is that a department went into the COA, either because our pilots couldn’t pass the one oh seven, we didn’t want to pay for the Part 107 tests.

00:18:05.808 –> 00:18:11.438
Um, or they could do more things like fly beyond line of sight over people or at night.

00:18:11.438 –> 00:18:22.918
But let’s tackle one of those issues beyond line of sight is under a COA. Seems to confuse people because they don’t understand what beyond visual line of sight actually means.

00:18:23.608 –> 00:18:27.718
Does it mean that nobody has eyes on the aircraft?

00:18:29.608 –> 00:18:33.228
Well, you know, you, no, it does not.

00:18:34.227 –> 00:18:40.867
You know this is a complicated topic as well because this differs a little bit from Part 107 as well.

00:18:40.867 –> 00:18:55.147
But essentially the whole you’ve got to kind of scroll back to what the whole foundational concept of, the way the national airspace system operates and is founded upon one principle.

00:18:55.927 –> 00:18:58.347
Which is if all else fails.

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And you and I are flying our aircraft towards each other.

00:19:02.007 –> 00:19:06.017
We can each see each other and get out of each other’s way.

00:19:06.027 –> 00:19:09.637
So we don’t need a radio to do that. We don’t need, you know, anything.

00:19:10.227 –> 00:19:16.517
And that’s the fundamental concept and the foundation upon which the entire thing is built on.

00:19:16.517 –> 00:19:21.147
So the whole concept of visual line of sight comment goes back to that where,

00:19:21.627 –> 00:19:35.607
you need to understand or you need to be able to see your aircraft, not just see it, but see it well enough with vision unaided except for glasses like old guys like you and may have uh corrective lenses, right?

00:19:35.607 –> 00:19:40.117
But you need to see it well enough. It’s not just seeing it like, oh, I see that got way out there.

00:19:40.127 –> 00:19:50.957
No, no, no. You need to see it well enough to know its location, its attitude, its altitudes, the direction of flight, speed, any obstacles in the air.

00:19:50.967 –> 00:19:54.007
Are you a hazard to anybody on the ground and in the air?

00:19:54.007 –> 00:19:59.747
And somebody needs to be looking at the surrounding airspace, because drones.

00:20:01.227 –> 00:20:11.047
Have to give way to manned aircraft and aircraft can be an ultralight flying through the area and they don’t have radios, they don’t have, they don’t have ADSB, they don’t have any of that stuff.

00:20:11.057 –> 00:20:21.137
It could be a crop duster, could be metal could be it could be a balloon, could be a balloon that’s right, goes back to the old right away questions.

00:20:22.227 –> 00:20:25.367
Yeah. So yeah, it’s uh, it’s not well understood, you know?

00:20:25.367 –> 00:20:39.387
And particularly when people say oh I’ve got anti-collision lights on that are visible for three miles, I can send it out three miles, right, It’s like oh heck no, you know, that’s not what those are for, those are for the other guy to see you in time to get out of the way.

00:20:39.397 –> 00:20:43.847
So beyond line of sight, for example, under the tactical beyond,

00:20:43.857 –> 00:20:55.547
line of sight it requires, it doesn’t say that it requires a visual observer, but it doesn’t say that you cannot fly without a visual observer and the FAA diagram,

00:20:55.727 –> 00:20:57.587
actually shows a visual observer.

00:20:57.587 –> 00:21:07.037
So if beyond visual line of sight is actually referring to the pilot correct that you still have somebody that has eyes on.

00:21:08.527 –> 00:21:15.547
Yeah, you know, let this is the Holy Grail, I call it right, Everybody wants to be able to.

00:21:16.295 –> 00:21:21.755
Let these drones fly out of their line of sight go long distances. And we and we’d love that too.

00:21:21.765 –> 00:21:28.085
We would, I know people don’t believe it, but we would, but the technology isn’t there yet now.

00:21:28.085 –> 00:21:42.955
And uh uh these someone has to be looking at that drone for a number of reasons, not just uh the main reason is so you don’t hit somebody or you don’t or you don’t pose a hazard.

00:21:42.955 –> 00:21:52.515
Rather, I think that’s probably a better way to phrase it, that you don’t pose a hazard to people in the air and on the ground and property in the air and on the ground as well.

00:21:52.595 –> 00:21:56.375
And somebody has to be, how do you do that if nobody’s looking at it?

00:21:56.385 –> 00:22:08.105
So in Part 107, for example, both the pilot and the visual observer need to be able to see the drone at all times well enough to know its location, altitude, etcetera, etcetera.

00:22:08.115 –> 00:22:12.385
Uh Now only one needs to be exercising that at the time.

00:22:12.385 –> 00:22:23.585
So the remote pilot in command could be looking at the to ground control station uh or what have you or talking to someone as long as the visual observer was the one doing it.

00:22:23.585 –> 00:22:36.105
But at all times the pilot in command needs to be close enough to the drone to be able to look up at any time and go, oh yeah, there it is, you know, so, but and on the tactical beyond visual line of sight, uh you know, it’s uh.

00:22:37.385 –> 00:22:41.715
It’s an interesting one and it is in some colors.

00:22:42.595 –> 00:22:55.505
But what a lot of people don’t understand is many of those COAs still require you if you’re within five nautical miles of an airport or half a nautical mile of a heliport, you still got to do something coordination wise.

00:22:55.505 –> 00:23:04.935
So I think a lot of people think, well it’s a get out of jail free card, I can go fly whatever I, you know, without being in my line of sight, I can do whatever I want.

00:23:04.935 –> 00:23:10.815
The answer is no, you can’t uh yet you’re limited to an extreme emergency.

00:23:11.495 –> 00:23:16.515
Uh You know, what is that? I mean, you have to be able to defend that decision.

00:23:16.525 –> 00:23:20.315
Was it an extreme emergency and your chief telling you to do it?

00:23:21.095 –> 00:23:26.535
It’s not an extreme emergency? Uh if somebody’s gonna die, okay, you know?

00:23:26.545 –> 00:23:30.005
Yeah, that’ll probably lost child, you know, something like that.

00:23:30.015 –> 00:23:35.305
Yeah, something, you know, somebody’s gonna drown if you don’t get over that hill. Okay, That’s probably one.

00:23:35.695 –> 00:23:41.205
Uh So it’s and you know, again, we don’t have a lot of case law.

00:23:41.595 –> 00:23:49.935
I don’t think there’s any yet, it’s slowly starting to percolate through.

00:23:49.935 –> 00:24:00.215
But I think that’s another good concept for the reader or the listeners to understand. Is that a lot of the way the FAA interprets the regulations are.

00:24:01.838 –> 00:24:08.588
They start with the case law because a judge has ruled on something and there’s a wonderful book called The F.A.R. Is explained.

00:24:08.598 –> 00:24:15.228
It’s by Jeppesen. I love that book, but it’s three inches thick.

00:24:15.238 –> 00:24:26.418
Right. I got it right there. Yeah. It’s a great book and I read it all the time because the judge is kind of doing it like Solomon, like peeling the onion back of what is this and what is that?

00:24:26.418 –> 00:24:39.358
And what’s flying over people, what’s not and what’s congested, what’s not And and a lot of it is determined by case law or NTSB rulings or in the absence of that F. A legal interpretations.

00:24:39.368 –> 00:24:52.618
And again. And can Congress writes the laws in certain ways to so Well, you’ve seen more co documents than I have, but the ones that I have seen still require a visual observer.

00:24:52.628 –> 00:25:02.478
Is there a public document that you have seen for police or fire department that does not require anyone to have eyes on?

00:25:02.478 –> 00:25:09.358
I just want to make it clear. I’m not no, I’m yeah, I’m glad you clarified that. No, there is, I’ve seen none.

00:25:09.938 –> 00:25:18.898
Uh and I would not imagine there would be any that says you can go fly uh the drone with nobody looking at the surrounding area.

00:25:18.908 –> 00:25:27.658
Uh Now in fact I’ll add to that that the COA’s require a visual observer to fly at night.

00:25:28.638 –> 00:25:41.728
So if you want to fly at night and of course all the public safety folks I know that’s pretty much mostly flying because bad things seem to happen at night, you have to have a visual observer in addition to the remote pilot in command.

00:25:41.738 –> 00:25:47.498
Well not only do they happen at night, but they happen when it’s coldest and rainiest as well.

00:25:47.508 –> 00:25:50.538
Well, you know, we can talk about weather too.

00:25:50.548 –> 00:26:02.588
I mean, you know, there’s a weather minimum that people need to be aware of that. Just if you have less than three statute miles visibility, you can’t fly unless you get special approval.

00:26:02.598 –> 00:26:12.708
But this is something that, you know, and if you want, we can talk about the pros and cons of a COA versus just operate as a normal Part 107 operation.

00:26:12.718 –> 00:26:19.458
But if you fly at night under Part 107, you don’t need a visual observer. You do.

00:26:19.938 –> 00:26:22.248
If you fly in your color, it’s required.

00:26:23.659 –> 00:26:38.269
It’s required. So that yeah, I think the whole idea of the get out of jail free card, it, what I see are people who went to a conference or talk to a friend and they said, oh yeah, you just need to get a cohen you can do whatever you want.

00:26:38.279 –> 00:26:41.709
Uh and that’s what always makes me cringe.

00:26:41.719 –> 00:26:50.559
And what I struggle with constantly is I don’t want to be the drone police. I don’t want to be the COA police.

00:26:50.569 –> 00:26:54.419
I just want to help educate you on what the reality is.

00:26:54.429 –> 00:27:08.689
And that seems to be the uphill battle because when people hear this message that you’ve been giving us and telling us the facts, um the general response I hear from the field is denial, right?

00:27:08.699 –> 00:27:14.539
You don’t know what you’re talking about. Well, here’s John from the FAA. I think he knows what he’s talking about.

00:27:14.549 –> 00:27:27.669
We would call that a hazardous attitude towards flight and and and you know, that’s one of the, you know, they believe it or not. The FAA has been investigating crashes for a long time.

00:27:28.159 –> 00:27:34.179
We’ve been in business since the 50s, and the NTSB has been investigating crashes for a long time.

00:27:34.189 –> 00:27:41.979
And there are some uh, attitudes and, and if you’ve had your Part 107 training and.

00:27:42.654 –> 00:27:49.114
Uh you should pull out the pilot handbook of aeronautical knowledge and it talks about aeronautical decision making etcetera.

00:27:49.124 –> 00:28:02.484
But what you’re talking about, I think is one of the number one issues is is this attitude of these things are low risk, what’s, you know, we do whatever it takes to get our job done.

00:28:02.494 –> 00:28:13.074
And some departments have a history of breaking things to get it done right and and and you know sometimes you have to write but not when it comes to the air,

00:28:13.454 –> 00:28:20.034
because the air is a shared space and it’s not a sanitized space in many cases.

00:28:20.034 –> 00:28:32.374
And I think this is and this attitude of uh you know, this is just bureaucratic bologna and uh and uh that’s you have to look at yourself in the mirror again as an aviator.

00:28:33.054 –> 00:28:37.674
Uh we there’s a lot of studies that have determined that there’s a lot of dead people,

00:28:38.054 –> 00:28:50.364
in manned aviation who have that attitude or were in the back of an aircraft that was flown by somebody with that attitude or worked in a department whose maintenance and leadership had that attitude.

00:28:50.754 –> 00:29:03.244
So, uh, the Canyon helicopters is a good example read that if you haven’t, it’s really, you know, and then have a safety stand-down day and talk about it.

00:29:03.254 –> 00:29:08.624
But you know, when I strip it all the way steve when I hear that, you know, I get it.

00:29:08.634 –> 00:29:14.174
I mean I I used to be in the air calves, you know, helicopter street top level, you know, I get it.

00:29:14.654 –> 00:29:21.254
But and when I talked to friends of mine who are very smart people, very responsible people.

00:29:21.264 –> 00:29:30.374
And when I hear this, you know, all these rules are baloney, I asked myself why do these intelligent.

00:29:31.438 –> 00:29:35.848
Responsible people feel this way. And I’ve come to the conclusion.

00:29:36.538 –> 00:29:47.158
That is because they perceive these things to be zero to low risk, their toys, their toys, and what’s the harm? What can come of it? Right?

00:29:47.168 –> 00:29:59.398
And, and now we have a number of incidents where drones have hit helicopters and hurt people and or cause them to make an emergency landing.

00:29:59.408 –> 00:30:08.958
We have cases of drones, many cases of drones falling out of the sky or becoming unguided missiles, you know, absolutely.

00:30:09.338 –> 00:30:20.738
There are cases where some pretty expensive drones have gone 2000 miles as an unguided missile and impacted the side of a mountain in Colorado flown from Arizona. Right, that’s not good.

00:30:20.748 –> 00:30:34.708
And uh, and again, it’s, you know, I think people need to understand and I keep coming back to think about it like seat belts, right, seat belts in a fire truck. What did they come about? When did they come about it?

00:30:34.718 –> 00:30:40.208
Right, in the, in the sixties, if you will put a seat belt on, people made fun of you? Absolutely.

00:30:40.218 –> 00:30:46.928
Right. Here, you know, are well now everybody is in the habit of buckling up, right?

00:30:46.938 –> 00:30:59.658
Why is that because the culture changed the safety, culture change, that the data changed, they develop, they changed their attitude, Right? And or here’s another 1 uh.

00:31:00.938 –> 00:31:09.068
Uh you mentioned earlier, you know, we want to get a coop because we have 450 police officers and we don’t want to pay the money to get them qualified.

00:31:09.068 –> 00:31:23.928
And, and I always, I mean maybe people are going to cringe at this, but I say, oh, sort of like when you get a new deputy and you need to pistol qualification of him and you don’t take them to the range, just let them hang a target up in the neighborhood and shoot at the tree right there.

00:31:23.928 –> 00:31:27.978
Like good grief, john we would never do that. I say, well, why not? He’s a good shot.

00:31:27.988 –> 00:31:39.558
What’s the risk? You know? And and and so this is kind of where I come back to this whole risk management, Aviation risk management of look, okay, While their risk,

00:31:40.038 –> 00:31:44.058
maybe small, the consequences are great, Right?

00:31:44.068 –> 00:31:57.148
And while the risk of flying that drone in that weather, that’s below minimums, you may perceive to below, there are consequences can be great because the helicopter could be flying through their helicopters can fly in 00 weather.

00:31:57.938 –> 00:31:59.628
Uh in some cases.

00:31:59.628 –> 00:32:12.688
Right. So let’s talk for a second about uh you were a gung ho army military helicopter pilot and it’s one thing to see a helicopter skimming the trees.

00:32:12.688 –> 00:32:25.828
But I don’t think that our listeners understand all of the pre-planning, pre-briefing, all the hours of study and organization that came before that.

00:32:25.838 –> 00:32:29.368
Right? And training and maintenance. Yeah.

00:32:29.378 –> 00:32:43.458
So you know, you think about what’s the difference between the drone and them? Well uh, let’s say somebody went out and had an unhappy ending and the FAA comes to investigate. Right? They’re gonna say.

00:32:44.038 –> 00:32:56.218
And well we were flying under a COA in fact this has happened. We’ve had a number of crashes that got investigated recently and the investigation determined a lot of unpleasant findings.

00:32:56.468 –> 00:33:05.948
Uh One of which was that what they were doing didn’t qualify as a public aircraft mission. So guess what? It was a civil operation?

00:33:06.438 –> 00:33:17.028
Well, so the first thing that the inspector said was, Okay, well, let me see the 107 certificates of all of the pilots who were involved with this, and they said we don’t have that. So guess what?

00:33:17.038 –> 00:33:19.758
That’s one violation per pilot per flight.

00:33:21.004 –> 00:33:26.024
And the civil penalties are something like $32,000 each.

00:33:26.034 –> 00:33:30.724
Right? And then and then the other one was, let me see your maintenance records.

00:33:31.604 –> 00:33:39.734
What do you mean maintenance workers? Well, you’ve certified that this aircraft as airworthy uh you know, blank stares. Right?

00:33:39.744 –> 00:33:43.624
And let me see your pilot training records of this person.

00:33:44.004 –> 00:33:47.424
Uh We don’t what we don’t have that. Well, why not? You’ve required it.

00:33:47.804 –> 00:33:49.924
You certified this guy knows what he’s doing.

00:33:50.504 –> 00:33:55.814
You certified that his knowledge is as good or better than what the FAA requires.

00:33:56.704 –> 00:34:02.884
And oh by the way it’s the pilot and the responsible person gets asked that question.

00:34:02.954 –> 00:34:13.364
Well, and what is one of the expectations of the FAA for a department? What is what does a flight department look like from your point of view?

00:34:13.374 –> 00:34:18.714
Well from my now the FAA doesn’t say you have to have a flight department.

00:34:19.504 –> 00:34:25.074
So john likes to use the analogy of like it or not.

00:34:25.084 –> 00:34:38.524
You are a flight department, I mean in reality uh you may be a flight department of one, you may be a flight department of 40 but you’re aviators from, you know this is the way the FAA is gonna look at you, you’re aviators and,

00:34:39.004 –> 00:34:42.654
you’re operating aircraft and you’re in our sandbox.

00:34:42.654 –> 00:34:55.324
Now you’re in a thing called the national airspace system that is that we regulate and by the way our track record as much as a pain as we are to a lot of people.

00:34:55.904 –> 00:34:59.264
Our tracker is pretty good for saving lives.

00:34:59.264 –> 00:35:11.414
We have the safest system in the world and it’s a shared space. Right? So um all of these things come together ah and the expectation is that.

00:35:13.380 –> 00:35:26.200
Run it like a flight department from, I mean, and this is why I would suggest that they talked to one of their sister units who is a flight department say, hey, how do you, how do you maintain your flight records?

00:35:26.210 –> 00:35:31.260
How do you maintain your maintenance logs? How do you, how do you do crew rest?

00:35:31.270 –> 00:35:36.910
How do you they’ve already done it right?

00:35:36.920 –> 00:35:42.310
You know, I always say the best pilots in the world are the laziest people you’ll ever meet, right?

00:35:42.320 –> 00:35:47.230
Like there is no, no way, he said, because you don’t want to have to reinvent things.

00:35:47.240 –> 00:36:00.940
Exactly build, build on the knowledge of others. Why why does the helicopter unit having have a flight department and a chief pilot ask him well, because history showed that they needed somebody to manage it.

00:36:01.270 –> 00:36:07.400
And in my experience, the chief pilot is the person that has enough experience and confidence to say no.

00:36:08.380 –> 00:36:12.000
Yeah. And the personal fortitude to stand up to pressure.

00:36:12.480 –> 00:36:19.620
Yeah, yep. And and and you know, this is this was also we did this in the army sometimes.

00:36:19.630 –> 00:36:28.760
Uh and but one of the everybody talks about the bad ah limiting factors about regulations.

00:36:28.760 –> 00:36:40.890
Well, you know what as a pilot, sometimes the rigs are a good shield to hide behind when you’re getting pressure from leadership sometimes to do something that, you know, it is probably not a good idea.

00:36:40.900 –> 00:36:46.090
You can and I’ve done this before where I’ve gone, sir, you know, I hear you, but,

00:36:46.751 –> 00:36:50.801
here’s the regulation which I am required to comply with.

00:36:50.811 –> 00:36:54.681
And if you have a problem with that, then we need to go escalate this.

00:36:54.691 –> 00:37:06.031
Uh and go talk to the helicopter units because I know they’ve had those conversations, right. And they can tell you how to have those conversations in a way that has a positive outcome.

00:37:06.041 –> 00:37:18.561
So, and hopefully so far from this podcast, one of the things that our listeners are going to come away with is uh you are protecting your personal and family finances,

00:37:19.151 –> 00:37:23.861
when you make the right decisions about when and when not to fly.

00:37:24.751 –> 00:37:35.731
Well, you know, I can’t comment on insurance or legal liabilities or anything like that because but I can tell you that we’re probably gonna be the least of their problems. Absolutely.

00:37:35.741 –> 00:37:49.681
Right. So if you know that scenario where you hit the bus driven by the nun full of orphans and it crashes and people get hurt, uh you know, the FAA is probably not going to be very sympathetic, right? But I’m pretty confident that will be the least of their problems.

00:37:49.691 –> 00:37:58.451
Did a podcast recently with john Ruprecht the drug listen to it, listen to it and everybody who’s on this podcast needs to go listen to that.

00:37:58.461 –> 00:38:01.431
It is outstanding. Jonathan knows what he’s talking about.

00:38:01.441 –> 00:38:10.681
I mean, and he talked about just how easy it would be as a plaintiff attorney to nail every department that had an incident or accident I’m afraid.

00:38:10.691 –> 00:38:15.761
Well not if they are in full compliance with their COA and the rest.

00:38:15.771 –> 00:38:25.371
You know, one of the things that always cracks me up is all the departments that are flying using some sort of telemetry recording system,

00:38:26.051 –> 00:38:32.821
that if there is one non-compliant flight in there that’s discoverable by an attorney or even the F.A.A.

00:38:32.831 –> 00:38:38.261
Uh that’s going to set a record of you will skirt the rules.

00:38:40.252 –> 00:38:48.872
Well I’ll just tell you a little bit about these recent crashes where it was people were doing a demo.

00:38:49.652 –> 00:38:58.722
And in one that comes to mind they were doing a demonstration of a product and they said oh we’re flying as a public aircraft and it was like you don’t even qualify.

00:38:58.732 –> 00:39:04.592
Uh So let me see your airworthiness certificate and this was a big machine.

00:39:04.592 –> 00:39:19.192
But um you know volunteer fire departments, if you’re listening to this pay attention because most of you, unfortunately, do not qualify for public aircraft status and you can’t get a co uh sorry.

00:39:19.202 –> 00:39:24.752
We don’t make the laws. Congress does right but you’re not eligible.

00:39:24.762 –> 00:39:34.672
The people who are eligible for public aircraft who meet the definition at a state and local level have to be a political subdivision of the state U. S. Territory of D. C.

00:39:35.152 –> 00:39:40.142
Uh or tribal Indian nations. So if you’re not a political subdivision and the FAA.

00:39:40.142 –> 00:39:52.262
Is going to require your attorney, you’re city attorney or your county attorney or your state attorney general to send the letters verifying that citing the statute in the state laws that say you are.

00:39:52.272 –> 00:39:55.742
So we’re not sorry, we’re not going to take your word for it.

00:39:55.752 –> 00:39:59.342
Why? Because we’ve been burned and others have been burned.

00:39:59.342 –> 00:40:12.872
And ultimately this kind of leads into another question I often get, which is, well, okay, if we violate, if we violate the COA or the terms if we violate public aircraft status.

00:40:13.752 –> 00:40:15.352
What does that mean?

00:40:15.362 –> 00:40:21.352
And and uh one of our attorneys give me a great analogy. You don’t really violate public aircraft statutes.

00:40:21.362 –> 00:40:26.752
You fall outside of them and back into civil aircraft rules.

00:40:26.762 –> 00:40:38.222
So if you’re flying a mission that the FAA deems later to be, not a qualified mission, let’s say you’re doing a demo to a local school or you’re doing ah yeah.

00:40:38.852 –> 00:40:42.692
What’s another good 1? Tax Department? The tax. Yeah.

00:40:42.702 –> 00:40:47.162
Yeah. Tax department that’s not one of the governmental functions that are listed in the statute.

00:40:47.552 –> 00:40:51.152
It’s a governmental function but it’s not the one listed in the statute.

00:40:51.162 –> 00:41:01.162
So uh aerial survey that of property that you don’t own or checking code compliance could be other. So there’s a gazillion.

00:41:01.172 –> 00:41:16.022
So I think part of the message uh you always try to get out and I want to reinforce this is that uh COAlas are not the and all easy broad brush solution.

00:41:16.032 –> 00:41:18.112
In fact, I would argue that COA’s.

00:41:19.214 –> 00:41:22.774
Is like walking into a giant minefield. Absolutely.

00:41:22.784 –> 00:41:29.324
With with a bayonet instead of a minesweeper because there are lots of ways to.

00:41:30.214 –> 00:41:44.424
Go wrong with the COA and there you can’t go wrong with the applicable flight rules if you do everything under part 17 And you know when I and I’m sorry I’m droning on here. Ha ha!

00:41:44.434 –> 00:41:52.444
But when I talked to some helicopter units I asked them, hey you guys are qualified as public aircraft operators? Yeah, we’re qualifying.

00:41:52.454 –> 00:41:56.624
Do you fly as in public aircraft? And they said never Like what? What?

00:41:57.314 –> 00:42:04.734
But you guys are like some of the most sophisticated aviators out there, Why don’t you fly as a public aircraft too complicated?

00:42:04.744 –> 00:42:13.524
Our guys have to learn two sets of rules, right? And many of the missions that were asked to fly are not qualified missions. So we’re governed by the civil rules anyway.

00:42:14.514 –> 00:42:23.424
So why you know again right. Part of being a good aviator, I’m a big fan of the keep it simple principle.

00:42:23.434 –> 00:42:28.934
But when you fly under COA your that’s part 91 your people have to learn part 91 rules.

00:42:29.314 –> 00:42:36.884
Well some of those missions have to fly as a civil aircraft which means Part 107. So they have to get a Part 107 certificate anyway.

00:42:36.894 –> 00:42:48.024
And they have to learn the Part 107 rules and they’re different. So you’re adding a level of complexity, a pretty significant level of complexity to a group who,

00:42:48.414 –> 00:42:54.244
more than likely are not traditional aviators with an aviation culture and an aviation background.

00:42:54.254 –> 00:43:09.014
And there are two more things there that always drives me crazy, which are if you want to go fly under the COA you are probably going to have to file a NOTAM, you’re probably going to have to do monthly reporting you’re adding to your administrative burden.

00:43:09.014 –> 00:43:11.734
And my biggest question is why?

00:43:12.114 –> 00:43:19.814
Well, you know, I often get asked the question, What are the pros and cons of COA versus Part 107?

00:43:19.814 –> 00:43:27.534
And I think this comes to the and I just this morning I was writing it down and I came up with 11 cons and two pros. All right, let’s hear.

00:43:28.693 –> 00:43:42.403
Okay, so a good reason to get a COA if you’re qualified in John McCain’s opinion is if you do agricultural aircraft operations, like mosquito control and you need to use a drone that weighs £55 or more.

00:43:42.993 –> 00:43:46.633
Uh COAlas are great option for you.

00:43:46.643 –> 00:44:00.463
This makes a lot of sense to me because when you fly these missions as a civil operator, oh You start getting into the part 137 certification and exemptions.

00:44:00.473 –> 00:44:08.313
And uh do you fly it under? You have to go down the exemption process which is uh it’s not quick and it’s not easy.

00:44:08.693 –> 00:44:15.223
But as a public aircraft, you don’t need a part 137 certificate, but you do have to comply with a lot of part 1 37.

00:44:16.193 –> 00:44:25.303
Your drone can weigh more than £55 and you don’t need the 44 807 So there’s, to me that’s a huge reason to seriously consider it.

00:44:25.313 –> 00:44:27.413
That’s number one, that’s one.

00:44:27.893 –> 00:44:38.103
Uh Number two pro is your COA does give you in a life safety emergency the ability to briefly operate over people.

00:44:39.093 –> 00:44:53.183
Uh now only to the extent that emergency is a life safety situation, then you have to get away from being over people versus Part 107. Now will allow operations over people.

00:44:53.193 –> 00:44:57.523
But uh you have to do it. There’s a lot of requirements to do that.

00:44:57.533 –> 00:45:01.183
And there are now categories of operations over people.

00:45:01.193 –> 00:45:09.633
And that’s a complicated topic in and of itself. And you need a drone that it has been uh has declarations of compliance accepted by the way.

00:45:09.643 –> 00:45:21.143
There are none out there today, although people are working on. So those are that’s pro to reason to that concludes my positive reasons.

00:45:21.153 –> 00:45:35.413
Well, let’s talk about 22 for a second one. Clarification is uh I have to talk to people all the time that say flying over people doesn’t count for people who are members of our department and wearing helmets.

00:45:35.793 –> 00:45:40.473
That would be a big no-go. That’s yeah, that, that is not well understood.

00:45:40.473 –> 00:45:53.793
So when, when the rules say directly participating in the operation, they mean the flight operation, the flight crew, not the police or fire fighting the fire at the accident scene.

00:45:53.803 –> 00:46:01.343
Think about going back to the statutes. Also, say qualified non-crewmembers.

00:46:01.353 –> 00:46:07.203
For example, that was written to allow flight nurses to be aboard an aircraft. They’re not crew members.

00:46:07.818 –> 00:46:14.428
They’re qualified, they’re qualified to be on the aircraft or uh, or, or maybe it’s a passenger.

00:46:14.438 –> 00:46:21.388
You know, that the victim, right? The victim is not allowed to be on a public aircraft while they’re a qualified non-crewmember.

00:46:21.398 –> 00:46:28.128
You know the reason this flight is, so it’s not for the police department at the scene, directing traffic.

00:46:28.138 –> 00:46:31.878
It’s not for the fire department fighting the fire. And this is not well understood.

00:46:31.878 –> 00:46:44.728
So, thanks for bringing that up too, because let’s clarify that one more time. Which is, there’s, let’s say there’s a house fire and there are a bunch of firefighters around this dealing with it.

00:46:45.118 –> 00:46:52.638
And you’re hovering above firefighters participating in, in that house fire.

00:46:52.648 –> 00:46:55.408
That does not qualify, right?

00:46:55.418 –> 00:47:06.158
Whether you’re momentarily or hovering, those people are not appropriate to fly over. Right? So, my first question, I think you’re gonna smirk is, Okay, what rules are you flying under?

00:47:06.168 –> 00:47:11.158
Okay, we’re flying under cohen this. Okay, Well, I mean, this is, this is important, right?

00:47:11.168 –> 00:47:17.128
The crew needs to know before takeoff. Hey, you’re flying this mission under our part 91 coma.

00:47:17.138 –> 00:47:20.998
Okay? Because there’s one set of rules and their COA tells them.

00:47:21.008 –> 00:47:29.028
Uh, yeah. So those, those folks, uh, well a couple things right is you’re only allowed to fly over people momentarily.

00:47:29.718 –> 00:47:42.298
And uh, it’s only the remote pilot in command, the visual observer if there is one or the person flying the drone under the supervision of the remote pilot ingredient, those three positions.

00:47:42.298 –> 00:47:45.038
That’s it. Yeah. And, and you know.

00:47:46.267 –> 00:47:57.207
Why you gotta, I always ask the question, why do you have to fly over people when you have these cameras and flare systems that allow you to fly obliquely away?

00:47:57.217 –> 00:48:03.707
Uh, you know, uh, many and again, this comes back to the whole concept of risk management.

00:48:03.717 –> 00:48:09.027
What’s the likelihood? What are the consequences? Well, the likelihood is maybe moderate.

00:48:09.037 –> 00:48:14.387
Uh, we’re flying in a rainstorm. You know, we haven’t even talked about the weather effects on drones, right?

00:48:14.397 –> 00:48:19.937
And drones apparently don’t do well in driving rain.

00:48:19.947 –> 00:48:31.587
You know, they don’t do well when there’s lightning around, they don’t do well when there are, by the way, you know, a lot of people don’t know that those drones, their signal is unlicensed spectrum, same as home wifi.

00:48:32.167 –> 00:48:36.387
It’s not a protected spectrum, so it’s subject to jamming and interference.

00:48:36.767 –> 00:48:40.427
And so the technology is not there yet.

00:48:40.437 –> 00:48:45.307
And uh, so but there are ways for people to get those approvals.

00:48:45.317 –> 00:48:53.177
And in fact, before Part 107 was amended, people could submit for a waiver and there’s a process to go through for that.

00:48:53.187 –> 00:49:01.237
But in general move to the side you know do you really need to be over those folks?

00:49:01.247 –> 00:49:03.277
I would argue. Probably not.

00:49:03.967 –> 00:49:18.937
Alright let’s talk about one potential pro that you haven’t mentioned. Which is we can self certify our pilots so talk to us about what I have listed as a con.

00:49:18.947 –> 00:49:29.987
Okay we’ll talk about what the FAA expectation is of the knowledge that COA pilots must have or should have.

00:49:30.967 –> 00:49:35.077
Yeah that’s a great question. So self-certified doesn’t mean any certification.

00:49:35.767 –> 00:49:47.487
Right. It means that you’re telling the FAA that your pilots are trained as well or better Then what the FAA requires of civil aviators apart 107.

00:49:48.167 –> 00:49:58.087
Well that would be a Part 107 or it could be a part 91 civil operator. There are people who operate under part 91 as civil operators for drones like the egg people for example.

00:49:58.667 –> 00:50:12.387
But yeah so you’re telling the FAA that your process and your training syllabus and your record-keeping and you know you’re gonna be able to prove it because again right,

00:50:12.967 –> 00:50:15.447
when are we gonna when we’re going to ask to see that?

00:50:15.457 –> 00:50:23.457
Well if you hit the bus driven by there right we’re gonna come down we’re gonna say hey yourself certified this pilot Right. Yes. Let me see his training records.

00:50:24.167 –> 00:50:31.487
Let me see the test scores. How often are you updating their knowledge? We require people to get recurrent every 24 months do you?

00:50:31.867 –> 00:50:33.577
Why not?

00:50:34.825 –> 00:50:43.345
Yeah. So, so self-certification does not mean little to no certification, it means you’re taking that burden on and doing as good or better job than we would.

00:50:43.725 –> 00:50:49.165
All right, so people perceive that as a pro, yep, in actuality it’s a kind of listening.

00:50:49.175 –> 00:50:56.165
I listed it as a con because it’s going to get you in trouble for a lot of reasons. All right, let’s go to your list of cons.

00:50:56.175 –> 00:51:09.915
Alright. Uh Number one, you’re operating under a different set of rules, so people have to learn two sets of rules, increases complexity, increases the likelihood of a mistake in john’s opinion.

00:51:09.925 –> 00:51:14.505
Okay. Uh Con number two Monthly reporting.

00:51:14.675 –> 00:51:19.815
It’s not required under apartment seven, but you’ve got to send a report detailing.

00:51:19.825 –> 00:51:29.725
I think typically the COA say uh every flight you got to log all kinds of stuff, all kinds of information, the number of hours flown.

00:51:29.725 –> 00:51:36.955
Who was a pilot, That fluid uh Synopsis of the mission. Where was it lat lon, all that stuff is required in the COA.

00:51:36.965 –> 00:51:40.035
You have to report every malfunction.

00:51:41.725 –> 00:51:54.045
Every malfunction. Yes sir. Just malfunctions including you know uh And it gives you some examples but it says you gotta do malfunctions any time it doesn’t do what you expected it to do.

00:51:54.625 –> 00:52:05.705
That’s the way I’m reading it now. You know somebody may direct me but it says uh including it gives you some examples ah pilot training records.

00:52:05.795 –> 00:52:08.915
You’ve got to maintain pilot training records for them.

00:52:08.925 –> 00:52:13.625
I mean typically you wouldn’t have to under Part 107 because they’ve taken their recurrent.

00:52:13.625 –> 00:52:16.865
We have you can show that you’ve taken that recurrence.

00:52:16.865 –> 00:52:23.045
See a wise entity would maintain them to defend lawsuits from ambulance chasers.

00:52:23.045 –> 00:52:35.045
I would speculate as that but that’s not required by the FAA. Under part one of 7 maintenance records yourself certifying that aircraft is airworthy under COA.

00:52:36.125 –> 00:52:41.345
Right? So you’re if it’s airworthy if it’s safe to fly, let me see the maintenance records, you got it.

00:52:42.425 –> 00:52:52.725
Uh You gotta already mentioned you gotta log every flight. LAANC, you know, we haven’t even talked about the low altitude authorization notification system, which is great.

00:52:52.735 –> 00:52:58.235
Well now Lance worked at night So it doesn’t work for part 91.

00:52:58.625 –> 00:53:02.545
Doesn’t work for us. That’s a con. Okay?

00:53:04.146 –> 00:53:09.156
You have to have a visual observer to fly at night under a call. You don’t under 107.

00:53:09.546 –> 00:53:13.766
Not a bad idea. But you don’t, it’s not required. You must file a NOTAM.

00:53:15.246 –> 00:53:20.556
Uh no less than 24 hours ahead of time. Under a cola no NOTAM Under Part 107.

00:53:21.346 –> 00:53:29.966
And I read I read some new ones, new clothes and it said yeah if there’s officers safety involved, you don’t have to do it.

00:53:30.446 –> 00:53:37.526
Well that’s pretty arguably defendable for the police department sending a swat team in at three in the morning.

00:53:37.536 –> 00:53:40.366
Probably less. So for a fire department doing training.

00:53:40.946 –> 00:53:46.066
Right, right. So where’s the NOTAM? Didn’t file a notice? Who another strike?

00:53:46.646 –> 00:53:54.566
Ah You still have to call somebody if you’re gonna fly within half a mile of a hellipad.

00:53:55.746 –> 00:54:02.166
You still have to call somebody if you’re going to do Flights within five nautical miles of an untapped world airport.

00:54:02.846 –> 00:54:15.656
So what do you get what you’re given? Let’s talk about helipads for a second because there are so many helipads around that are not regularly used and have no contact information for them.

00:54:16.746 –> 00:54:27.066
How in the world do you deal with those? Well, I looked at a call yesterday and it said they had to go to the entity that controlled it and go coordinate that.

00:54:27.946 –> 00:54:32.846
And then so best practice. I would suggest, uh, that.

00:54:32.856 –> 00:54:47.436
And again, this is not required. You can you’re all adults. You can figure out what you need to do, but you need to go have a relationship, established their communication, and establish a relationship with them so that they know about you and you know about them.

00:54:47.446 –> 00:54:54.056
And uh you know, the one good thing about helipads is that they’re not too easy to move around. That’s right.

00:54:54.446 –> 00:55:00.366
And they’re pretty much you pretty much can figure out where they are, their hospitals. Um.

00:55:01.508 –> 00:55:09.788
So, but yeah, so they are listed generally if they’re approved, they are listed in a database.

00:55:09.798 –> 00:55:21.308
Uh, you know, it’s interesting you bring up helipads because remember a few months ago, looking at the Los Angeles low altitude sectional And I counted something like 13 of them.

00:55:21.318 –> 00:55:24.498
And I kept thinking about this tactical beyond visual, out of sight.

00:55:24.508 –> 00:55:32.918
And uh there’s a lot of help medevac activity in there that as a helicopter, as a former helicopter guy, I’d sure like to.

00:55:33.808 –> 00:55:40.318
Know about you when I’m on short final and the Dead man’s curve, they call it. But again, that’s your business.

00:55:40.328 –> 00:55:43.018
You will be expected to have done that.

00:55:43.508 –> 00:55:47.758
What number are we on in the con list? I think we’re almost at the bottom.

00:55:47.768 –> 00:55:58.528
Uh, let’s see. What was the other one about? The tactical Oh, that, you know, here’s the new one. Everybody’s hanging their hat on the tactical beyond visual line of sight.

00:55:58.908 –> 00:56:02.198
Uh, yeah, it has some great things in there for public safety.

00:56:02.198 –> 00:56:16.528
But a word to the wise, if you have this clause in your COA, you better also pay attention to the other causes that say, you still have to notify people within five medical miles or, or half a mile or whatever your COA says.

00:56:16.568 –> 00:56:28.028
You still have to do that. So I would argue, why not just make, why not operate as a civil aircraft under part 17 and make the phone call to the S to the SSC for an S. G. I.

00:56:28.408 –> 00:56:37.618
And, and they can do the coordination with, uh, the approach control and the towers. So.

00:56:38.940 –> 00:56:51.850
I mean, that’s just, that’s just my list. You know, now they, I mean, you know, they can be really good. I think for people who have uh people in it depends on your situation.

00:56:51.860 –> 00:56:55.390
Let me give you an example, Tell me if this hits the mark.

00:56:55.400 –> 00:56:59.060
So I was talking with Tom Madigan from Alameda County,

00:56:59.440 –> 00:57:13.700
out in California and they have a fixed-wing rotary-wing and drones us and they have an administrative process for already dealing with this. They’re all on the same page.

00:57:13.710 –> 00:57:20.760
Now, you compare that With somebody that might be a small department, maybe five or fewer pilots.

00:57:21.240 –> 00:57:26.660
I don’t know how the small departments manage all the administrative stuff.

00:57:26.670 –> 00:57:30.360
I don’t know what to say other than I can’t either is John me as a private citizen.

00:57:30.740 –> 00:57:34.800
Uh but the expectation from the FAA will be well, too bad.

00:57:34.810 –> 00:57:40.650
You chose it, you know, not too bad. But we’ll help you as much as we can.

00:57:40.660 –> 00:57:48.120
Right? But yeah, you’re adding complexity, and is what do you get for the complexity?

00:57:48.130 –> 00:57:55.860
And some now, some people could say no, it’s worth it and I won’t argue that for some, it really is a good thing and it makes sense.

00:57:56.440 –> 00:58:02.850
But to Tom’s point, if you’re a small department of, you know, you’re an army of one.

00:58:04.164 –> 00:58:14.834
Do you really want to have to do all that extra stuff when in the end of the day if you really have a true bonafide emergency and you can’t fully comply? All you gotta do is make one phone call to the S. O. S. C.

00:58:14.844 –> 00:58:20.484
Uh To me I’m a lazy guy. I don’t why would I want to do that?

00:58:21.764 –> 00:58:32.764
But you know I but again I don’t want to come across as you know, Mr. Negative on cause there are some folks where coz make a lot of sense.

00:58:32.774 –> 00:58:46.274
Uh But I would say with my hand over my heart, most of the people who are going to listen to this podcast can probably live without a CO. Uh Yeah. And again I’m with you.

00:58:46.284 –> 00:58:57.664
My goal is not to talk people out of co is it’s to inform them about what their responsibilities are to make an informed decision. Exactly.

00:58:57.784 –> 00:59:04.384
All right. So speaking of co is it was on your list? I think we made it through all 11. Right correct. Yes. Okay.

00:59:04.464 –> 00:59:11.824
Um There is this really weird thing about certifying the airworthiness of drones under a COA.

00:59:11.834 –> 00:59:24.984
Can you explain to me help me understand how does COA agency certify their drone is airworthy when it has never passed any airworthiness certification?

00:59:24.984 –> 00:59:30.874
Is there like airworthiness light out there or how do they do that?

00:59:31.664 –> 00:59:39.434
I don’t know. Okay. I mean look they do it to their satisfaction.

00:59:39.444 –> 00:59:48.884
Yeah I mean that’s what the group requirement is and their satisfaction, in reality, must be defendable at some point.

00:59:49.364 –> 00:59:54.374
The problem is that there is an FAA definition for the word airworthy.

00:59:55.603 –> 01:00:01.333
Right, but ultimately, that it’s ultimately, they have to determine it’s safe for flight.

01:00:01.343 –> 01:00:11.003
And the FAA to date has not issued any airworthiness certificates to drones, although we’re working on that, and there’s a process that we’re working on for that.

01:00:11.013 –> 01:00:17.313
Uh and I would suggest that when these type certificated drones,

01:00:17.903 –> 01:00:32.313
start coming out into the marketplace, that public safety in particular, if you’re flying in a COA, you might want to take a hard look at maybe getting acquiring those, because those have airworthiness certificates that are gonna have gone through a rigorous process.

01:00:32.323 –> 01:00:40.673
So, what is this, this again? I go back into history, right? So you go back to what, where did this requirement come from?

01:00:40.683 –> 01:00:49.523
And it comes those helicopters that those entities, those entities like Tom Madigan’s,

01:00:50.103 –> 01:00:58.923
uh they have a rigorous program that they make sure that those aircraft are on an on an equivalent airworthiness level,

01:00:59.603 –> 01:01:00.843

01:01:00.853 –> 01:01:02.723
As a civil helicopter.

01:01:03.103 –> 01:01:17.613
So, um and that’s essentially what you’re saying, yes, we’ve put this through our rigorous process and we have determined that this is airworthy and the FAA is gonna let you, you know, you’re gonna have to defend that, possibly.

01:01:18.631 –> 01:01:25.551
Your history of the COA helps make so much sense to what it is today because,

01:01:26.031 –> 01:01:37.051
understanding that these were surplus aircraft coming back from Vietnam and unfortunately I’m old enough now that I remember when those were coming back and I saw them at my local airport.

01:01:37.431 –> 01:01:51.541
Um and those were Being operated by pilots that already had, I mean their military training gave them tons of insight and it maintained exactly the same as a Bell 206, right.

01:01:51.551 –> 01:01:55.461
Almost the same maintenance program. But they didn’t have an airworthiness certificate.

01:01:55.471 –> 01:02:03.161
So all of those helicopters would have been uh scrap unless that had changed for them to self certify them.

01:02:03.171 –> 01:02:18.041
So the departments that initially took that on um whether For whatever reason the assumption was that they had the other 90 of experience and expectations that they would bring to the COA.

01:02:18.631 –> 01:02:25.051
And that’s not happening with you know, uh Main Street Volunteer Fire Department.

01:02:25.531 –> 01:02:29.711
Well that’s what they’re signing up for.

01:02:29.721 –> 01:02:38.361
Yes, sir. So again, I mean, you know, I can’t really comment on it. But the COA you’re making representations to the F.A.A.

01:02:38.371 –> 01:02:45.541
And the responsible person is going to assure compliance and they are accountable that we are doing it.

01:02:46.431 –> 01:02:55.451
So you be able to defend it. Are their flight rules that govern flights under a COA. And if so, where people find them?

01:02:56.631 –> 01:03:05.921
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I have bookmarked on my computer, the electronic Code of Federal Regulations E CFR.

01:03:05.931 –> 01:03:12.751
So there’s a lot of different places you can find them. But e c F R dot gov is a great resource.

01:03:12.761 –> 01:03:19.651
And, uh, so when you fly under co you’re flying under Part 91 that’s title 14.

01:03:20.666 –> 01:03:31.686
The Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. And uh so when you’re flying your COA or if you’re flying a drone that weighs more than £55 as a civil operator, you’re governed by part 91.

01:03:31.696 –> 01:03:36.906
And that’s what those are the rules that apply to you the flight. Those are the flight rules, by the way.

01:03:36.906 –> 01:03:50.436
There are also fish and wildlife rules about harassing life. There are also Corps of Engineer rules. There’s also uh no uh yeah we have state rules to eight rules. Right?

01:03:50.446 –> 01:03:57.716
So and then when you fly under Part 107, That’s uh 14 CFR Part 107.

01:03:57.716 –> 01:04:05.496
Now, where can you find these? So I would also recommend uh your audience take a look at advisory circulars.

01:04:05.506 –> 01:04:09.036
We have a lot of advisory circulars out there once called.

01:04:09.046 –> 01:04:16.426
We abbreviate that AC alpha charlie, AC 107-2A.

01:04:16.436 –> 01:04:19.726
That’s a new, newly updated Part 107.

01:04:19.736 –> 01:04:27.676
That-uh advisory circuit has got a ton of great information and they’re about remote ID and the categories of operating over people and what’s required.

01:04:28.066 –> 01:04:38.386
Uh and then there’s an advisory circular for part 91 91-57B. And they’re hoping to update that 57C.

01:04:39.166 –> 01:04:45.766
Um So there’s that but you can also buy uh F.A.R. Aims.

01:04:45.776 –> 01:04:57.026
Uh you know there are books you can buy, but also on our website, there’s a lot of free materials on our website uh for that, a couple more landmines.

01:04:57.036 –> 01:05:01.156
So this is the COA cast. So I’m just sticking to the COA.

01:05:01.166 –> 01:05:15.276
So you’re flying a mission for FEMA and you may get reimbursed for it or um your you have brought on a contractor or you’re leasing an aircraft um Any of those things.

01:05:16.138 –> 01:05:18.898
Potential red flags. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

01:05:18.908 –> 01:05:26.558
Red flag. So one of the requirements to fly as a public aircraft as you cannot receive compensation.

01:05:27.038 –> 01:05:31.748
And so we had asked our general counsel, well what about,

01:05:32.338 –> 01:05:42.958
these departments who are flying missions with the purpose of providing female information but getting compensation for it And that that in fact now,

01:05:43.338 –> 01:05:51.568
bumps you out of public aircraft and back into Part 107 uh because it nullifies public aircraft status.

01:05:51.578 –> 01:06:00.058
So we’re not saying don’t do FEMA missions were saying do them all day long Under Part one of 7. Right.

01:06:00.438 –> 01:06:08.248
And you can get paid for it. It’s another reason to do it under Part 107. Right? You can fly all the missions that you need to do.

01:06:08.738 –> 01:06:14.458
You can fly them under Part 17. You can only fly a handful of missions that you need to do under a COAla.

01:06:15.038 –> 01:06:23.858
It always makes me laugh that, you know, we talked before about the agencies that went the core out so they didn’t have to get their pilots to pass the one or seven or pay for it.

01:06:23.868 –> 01:06:30.138
And the reality is they need both if they’re going to fly under a COA, I believe you do.

01:06:30.148 –> 01:06:39.708
Because one of the issues is you cannot train, it’s not a governmental function, it’s not part of the definition.

01:06:39.718 –> 01:06:51.158
So are our General counsel’s office has informed us that training by a state or local entity is a civil operation. So guess what?

01:06:51.538 –> 01:07:03.858
Right. Guess what? You gotta have a one of seven. So In fact, this was one of the findings of a recent crash by a public safety entity with 40 un certificated pilots.

01:07:04.238 –> 01:07:13.148
Uh they, you know, they were doing training missions and they were operating beyond visual line of side and they had no certificates,

01:07:13.388 –> 01:07:19.838
and no maintenance records and no maintenance records and when the and I’ve heard this anecdotally.

01:07:19.838 –> 01:07:26.458
But what I heard is that when this was presented to the leadership, they immediately shut down the operation. Yeah.

01:07:26.938 –> 01:07:33.898
And uh and then they called up the helicopter flight department said you need to take this over.

01:07:33.908 –> 01:07:37.288
I could have predicted that, right. Right.

01:07:37.298 –> 01:07:43.368
Because and again this I always suggest to people and this is not the FAA.

01:07:43.368 –> 01:07:52.008
The FAA does not require you to do this. But it’s probably a good idea when you’re operating an aircraft to have a conversation with your legal and risk management people, your insurance people.

01:07:52.008 –> 01:08:02.658
It’s probably a good idea, right? We don’t FAA. Doesn’t regard but not a bad idea because they need to know what you’re committing the city or the county financially.

01:08:03.319 –> 01:08:11.759
Yeah. And you want to know what your responsibility compliant requirements and liability is personally as the pilot to.

01:08:11.769 –> 01:08:22.129
But again, that’s not an FAA thing. You know, what we want is we want compliant and knowledgeable aviators flying their aircraft in a safe.

01:08:22.719 –> 01:08:29.569
Manner so that it does not endanger the safety and security of the national airspace system.

01:08:29.569 –> 01:08:31.629
And it’s not a state airspace system.

01:08:31.639 –> 01:08:43.229
It’s not a town airspace system, it’s a national airspace system When I am a pilot flying under a COA and it’s a department of let’s say 15 pilots or something.

01:08:43.719 –> 01:08:47.139
Do I need to carry a copy of the COA with me when I fly?

01:08:47.619 –> 01:08:58.169
Yes sir. Yes you do. And uh and the application that needs to be part of it and it’s one of the standard terms that’s in the COA and you need to have it with you.

01:08:58.179 –> 01:09:04.349
Now uh Is the FAA. Inspector gonna come out in an ambush here?

01:09:04.359 –> 01:09:16.289
You know? He could uh and uh and they would ask for that uh and you need to have it with you. And why do we say that it’s because you have to comply with it?

01:09:16.299 –> 01:09:27.369
And how do you know you’re complying with it? If you don’t have it handy as a reference, You don’t when you fly an aircraft, when you fly unmanned aircraft, you have the pilot’s handbook or the manuals in the aircraft, Right?

01:09:27.369 –> 01:09:31.399
Why? Well, because sometimes you forget what the emergency procedure is, that’s why you have it.

01:09:31.409 –> 01:09:39.429
Right? So again, the expectation of the FAA is yeah, the crew has it and they know what’s in it.

01:09:40.193 –> 01:09:43.743
Right. So that was one of the findings by the way of this entity.

01:09:43.753 –> 01:09:50.283
We asked a few of the pilots well what about the co and they’re like what?

01:09:50.293 –> 01:09:52.573
You know sorry, that’s a bad answer.

01:09:52.583 –> 01:10:05.813
Well and not only that now you’ve added more administrative tasks because any time there’s an update in an addendum or anything else now you’ve got a district, make sure you’ve got version control with all your pilots? I would think so, yep.

01:10:06.393 –> 01:10:09.903
What else should people copilots be carrying with them?

01:10:11.893 –> 01:10:26.513
Well, they There if you’re Part 107 person, you know this has changed and this may be of interest of the sidebar infused tune, but after the after 21 April Uh is that the right date Steve?

01:10:26.513 –> 01:10:34.933
I got so many numbers in my head, but after the 21st the effective date anyway, Part 17 pilots are required to have a photo I.

01:10:34.933 –> 01:10:43.643
D. On them that and they’re Part 107 certificate the plastic card and uh any airspace authorizations?

01:10:43.653 –> 01:10:46.943
Sorry, They don’t need to show that drone registration.

01:10:46.953 –> 01:10:53.243
Yeah, so that’s it. The drone registration. You’re going to have to have that too because all by the way, all public aircraft drones have to be registered.

01:10:53.253 –> 01:10:56.643
Even if they wait for 2 grams, they have to be registered.

01:10:56.653 –> 01:11:00.613
All of them, all of them individually.

01:11:01.093 –> 01:11:03.403
And yes, you have to pay the $5 fee.

01:11:03.893 –> 01:11:09.793
No, the FAA didn’t make that determination. It’s all your fault John personally it’s your fault.

01:11:09.803 –> 01:11:18.843
You know. All right, well, you know, we’ve gone on a long time, but in closing I have two more questions.

01:11:18.843 –> 01:11:31.443
One is um, do you have any suggestions for a new public safety person tasked with setting up or taking over a drone operation for the department so they can determine,

01:11:31.453 –> 01:11:34.113
what is the best approach for them?

01:11:34.493 –> 01:11:40.883
Wow. That’s a great question. Uh Yeah, there’s a lot of things that come to mind.

01:11:40.883 –> 01:11:54.203
I think the first one is to realize that you’re not alone, that there are people out there and believe it or not, the FAA has people, we have a public safety team that is set up just to help folks like your audience.

01:11:54.593 –> 01:12:01.673
Uh Michael, shea steve pant ski myself, Dave reefs, uh and the Support center, they can reach out to the U.

01:12:01.673 –> 01:12:15.513
S. Support Center, tell them in an email or a phone that they are public safety and they want to talk to the public safety team and they’ll put you in contact with us and we’ll have uh conversations with you and but before.

01:12:16.481 –> 01:12:25.301
Aside from that, I would suggest that the number one thing we’ve always recommended to folks is develop your,

01:12:25.781 –> 01:12:35.531
your mission set, what, what missions are you going to fly and what’s the purpose of the drones and uh, and then go get community buy in for that.

01:12:35.531 –> 01:12:43.981
And, and the reason we say go figure out with leadership, what missions, what’s the expectation? What’s the need?

01:12:43.991 –> 01:12:46.111
Because that’s going to do a few things.

01:12:46.121 –> 01:12:53.121
What we hear from folks like you and from tom Madigan and people like that is that that’s going to drive equipment decisions.

01:12:53.131 –> 01:13:03.331
I mean, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard from people, hey, our department just got magic many and we want to do all these great things. It’s like, dude, you can’t do that with that machine.

01:13:03.341 –> 01:13:13.471
And uh, uh, so, you know, figure out what the mission is that will help drive policy that will help drive mission sets, It will help drive a lot of things.

01:13:13.471 –> 01:13:20.201
And then I would, I would also suggest go talk to uh industry groups.

01:13:20.681 –> 01:13:35.121
And uh you know, there’s uh the drone responders, you right Charles all those guys, there’s the bunch of people there, yep, the Airborne Public Safety Association, those guys have been doing it for, you know, eons.

01:13:35.131 –> 01:13:41.981
So there are entities out there, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, uh the International uh huh.

01:13:42.381 –> 01:13:55.531
I forget, you know, all these acronyms, there’s a million acronyms, but there are groups out there who can help you and if you have a county or state helicopter unit, uh pick up the phone and call them because they’ve done it right.

01:13:55.531 –> 01:14:09.191
They’ve been doing it for decades. And honestly, uh your flight Department, whether you or your leadership wants to call it that and you know, their friend the F. A.

01:14:09.681 –> 01:14:23.301
Is going to have an expectation that this is a professionally run organization and that the aviators who are flying these drones are flying drones that are deemed safe and that they are flown by knowledgeable and compare.

01:14:23.981 –> 01:14:26.111
Regulatory lee compliant people.

01:14:26.121 –> 01:14:30.761
And it’s no joke, right? And, uh, and they do pose a risk.

01:14:30.771 –> 01:14:34.261
They are not very reliable at the current state of technology.

01:14:34.271 –> 01:14:39.101
And you know, I can’t end this broadcast without.

01:14:39.680 –> 01:14:46.120
Kind of a message like hey, we get it. We’re trying to, we would love for you to be able to go do whatever you want.

01:14:46.130 –> 01:14:51.800
You know, go do your drone in the box, go do you beyond visual line of sight. We would love that, right?

01:14:52.380 –> 01:15:07.020
But you know what? The technology isn’t there yet? And we can’t endanger those ultralights, those Ag aircraft, those medevac, those army helicopter guys flying treetop level, can’t the technology is not there yet.

01:15:07.020 –> 01:15:21.530
Those drones cannot detect and avoid another aircraft, Right? And I know of at least two cases where the Army lost drones that went 2000 miles as guided missiles, right?

01:15:21.540 –> 01:15:24.520
And you know what if that hits the helicopter, they’re dead.

01:15:24.530 –> 01:15:32.230
So we would love we do want to get there because we would love to allow you to do everything you need to do safely.

01:15:32.240 –> 01:15:40.610
And by the way we have a way to do that and that’s the S. G. I. Process. So there is no excuse frankly for not making that call.

01:15:40.620 –> 01:15:47.430
So you know it’s funny. No no it’s funny because um you can go on Amazon and buy an aircraft.

01:15:47.440 –> 01:15:53.590
Uh you know it’s not like you can go and buy a helicopter on amazon or you can go to Walmart and buy an aircraft.

01:15:53.880 –> 01:16:01.270
Uh And then there’s this expectation that it must be safe because somebody has manufactured it.

01:16:01.280 –> 01:16:10.200
This doesn’t necessarily need is true because yeah I look at all these accidents that happen every single day especially with Mavericks.

01:16:10.580 –> 01:16:20.890
Uh And then we have this other issue which is that all these amazing things are being said about drones. They can do lots of great things.

01:16:20.900 –> 01:16:29.990
But when we look back five years from now people will understand the drones that were flying today are really just the tricycles.

01:16:30.480 –> 01:16:34.200
You know, they are fundamental technology, there’s not advanced.

01:16:34.680 –> 01:16:39.130
Well think about it if you think about uh.

01:16:39.887 –> 01:16:48.367
The old hand pumper, fire mhm Fire trucks. Right where the horse? The horse pulled it up. The two guys got out and pumped. Right?

01:16:48.377 –> 01:16:53.807
That’s kind of where I think we are today and five years is like light-years.

01:16:54.387 –> 01:17:02.547
I mean, it’s there’s the change. The pace of change is dramatic. I mean, look at what these drones can do today versus what they could do three years ago.

01:17:02.557 –> 01:17:04.747
And the pace of change is rapid.

01:17:04.757 –> 01:17:15.207
You know, if you’re, if you’re a pistol guy, think about the single action army versus the modern day polymer, you know, semi-autonomous, right?

01:17:15.207 –> 01:17:22.357
I mean, that’s kind of the pace of change, right? You wouldn’t, you wouldn’t carry those, You wouldn’t, you wouldn’t use that hand pumper today.

01:17:22.367 –> 01:17:28.307
Right? You wouldn’t do it well, why? Because technology has changed so much. Where it makes a dramatic improvement.

01:17:28.317 –> 01:17:32.357
So you, my forecast is five years from now.

01:17:32.367 –> 01:17:47.297
We will have drones that operate other than on a radio spectrum, maybe cellular, that carry much more energy. Can stay aloft longer and can fly beyond line of sight. They will be determined to be airworthy.

01:17:47.687 –> 01:17:51.907
Do you see other Future things in the next five years?

01:17:52.887 –> 01:18:00.017
Oh, I think, you know, remember we started off the podcast with, you don’t know what, you don’t know, right?

01:18:00.027 –> 01:18:12.387
I think it’s a little bit like that. Right? I mean, I believe that, well, one of the reasons I came to the FAA good paying job, but I believe so strongly in this new technology.

01:18:12.387 –> 01:18:17.317
I think this is going to be the most revolutionary thing in aviation since the turban engine.

01:18:17.387 –> 01:18:31.007
And I really believe it. And I uh-huh I believe that when these things become commercially viable and economically viable, I guess is a better word.

01:18:31.017 –> 01:18:36.407
And to do that, they’re going to need to go a pretty good distance out of line of sight.

01:18:36.887 –> 01:18:45.187
Uh and they’re going to have to be reliable and either autonomous or semi-autonomous. And uh you know, there’s, you think about autonomous, right?

01:18:45.197 –> 01:18:55.037
Everybody, everybody says, oh, we got this autonomous drones set up and say, well I’m on an international group and there are different levels of autonomy.

01:18:55.037 –> 01:19:01.297
I think seven levels of autonomy and the, you know, the pilots in the loop there on the loop there out of the loop, I’m like, what are you talking about?

01:19:01.297 –> 01:19:10.057
Right. But if you think about the level of complexity and when I uh when I hear people think about self-driving cars, right?

01:19:10.067 –> 01:19:22.807
And they and the challenges, well, we have self-driving cars someday, you bet we will uh, isn’t ready yet now? Probably. No, I don’t think, I mean in some cases maybe, but they can’t.

01:19:23.187 –> 01:19:27.927
The challenge is in two dimensions in the X and Y axis Are significant.

01:19:27.937 –> 01:19:39.197
We’ll think about the challenges in the Z-axis, where, you know, these can come from 360° in every plane possible, so, and you’ve got to have the onboard systems.

01:19:40.193 –> 01:19:50.453
To allow for this drone to detect, uh, either a threat or that they are posing a threat to another aircraft. And then has the logic to get out of the way.

01:19:50.463 –> 01:19:53.833
We don’t have that today, but I think we will have that in five years.

01:19:53.833 –> 01:20:08.543
But that’s, you know, that’s just johN’s crystal ball. I think there’s going to be uh, you know, we didn’t talk about this remote ID thing either, but that one of the reasons why we need to have remote ideas to get to that holy grail where everybody wants to go beyond visual line of sight.

01:20:08.553 –> 01:20:13.893
And you can’t really do that unless these drones can be identified as being out there.

01:20:13.903 –> 01:20:23.253
Uh, so we can’t have it both ways, right If we want to enable these flights and, and we want to do it safely.

01:20:23.263 –> 01:20:36.783
Well, either of these drones has to be able to fly with equipment on board that allows them to detect and avoid another aircraft or, or ultralight or we have to have some other systems to do that.

01:20:36.793 –> 01:20:48.213
And so I think it’s going to be dramatic. I think it’s going to be as dramatic as the hand pumper versus these modern-day trucks that I see uh here in northern Virginia. It’s amazing.

01:20:48.593 –> 01:20:55.173
You know, John you started by saying, we could go on for hours and hours on this topic and you’re absolutely right.

01:20:55.183 –> 01:21:10.003
People are probably not going to understand that we have only scratched the surface, only scratched the surface. Yeah, that’s why I kind of joke that we need another 11 hours. Yeah, but I really thank you. We’re going to do this again, hopefully.

01:21:10.013 –> 01:21:16.763
Um, and we’ll talk more in-depth about some of these topics, especially remote I. D. Has a lot of misperception.

01:21:16.773 –> 01:21:24.103
I just want to thank you so much yourself personally and the FAA for letting you share your wisdom with us.

01:21:24.593 –> 01:21:35.303
Well, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak to your audience and uh it is an honor to be able to try and help folks and it’s a pleasure. So thank you for having me.

01:21:35.893 –> 01:21:40.953
Hi, this is Steve Rhode, your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website.

01:21:41.043 –> 01:21:51.723
Be sure to visit psflight.org to get in on my private email list, read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety drone questions.

01:21:51.983 –> 01:21:54.253
That’s psflight.org.

01:21:54.593 –> 01:22:01.803
Or if that trips you up, you can land in the right place by using publicsafetyflight.org.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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