The Drone Dilemma, Part 3: Air Space

In my last blog entry on drones, “The Drone Dilemma, Part 2: Legal”, I promised I’d pester you next about air space. For those of you just joining us, we have also addressed this technological advancement of unmanned flight in terms of bandwidth limitations in Part 1 of this series of blogs on drone aircraft. As always, I try to appeal to the technical side of the Planet Analog audience while bringing to light a subject that is current and trending.

Speaking of technology, let’s get to it right away. Although I’m not much of a software guy, you can’t argue with the fact that software engineers recently had a 0.2% unemployment in Colorado. Nor can you argue with the fact that they get the majority of the investment dollars. So it’s time for me to acknowledge software engineers and give them their fair shake as they transmit their bits and bytes along the most excellent designs of the Planet Analog community.

The technology that I’m referencing is by a company who creates software for guiding a drone such that it doesn’t enter restricted air space.

“Hawhoa?! Kawhool, Beavith!”

This software is profiled on a website “DJI ROLLS OUT NEW SOFTWARE TO STOP YOU FLYING YOUR DRONE IN RESTRICTED AIRSPACE”, By Trevor Mogg — January 2, 2016. If you are a drone pilot, you might want to consider this software. It might just keep you out of the clink. Remember, ignorance is not a defense so if you fly into a restricted area so take precautions or be prepared to pay the price.

Another website that provides information is “Don’t fly drones here”. This website has map views of “No Fly Zones”. At a quick glance it shows the Grand Canyon is off limits. So much for getting that exceptional view on your vacation.

No blog on air space would be complete without addressing the boundaries associated with one’s own personal property. As indicated in the article “This Is How the FAA Regulates American Airspace”, drones can pretty much fly to an altitude of zero which begs the question, what constitutes trespassing if they can land in your back yard? I’m not about to get into that debate myself however I did find their graphic to be quite interesting as it showed some of the altitudes associated with the flying capabilities of military UAVs.

Air space and trespassing bring to light that threat that is being made to shoot drones out of the sky. As it turns out, there has been an incident as referenced in “Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy.” I find some things about this action disturbing. Anyone who has taken a hunter safety course or gun use class knows that shooting up into the sky is a no-no. Furthermore, not having a legitimate back drop to stop the bullet is also considered to be a bonehead move. Finally, shooting within certain limits or within range of a dwelling are also restrictions that can result in a violation. Of course that didn’t matter much to Mel Brooks in the movie “History of the World, Part I”.

“PULL!…… drifting to the left.”


  2. Don’t fly drones here
  3. This Is How the FAA Regulates American Airspace
  4. Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy.
  5. History of the World, Part I

9 comments on “The Drone Dilemma, Part 3: Air Space

  1. cookiejar
    February 3, 2016

    Seems to me that hunters routinely shoot into the sky to down flying creatures like ducks, geese, pheasants, grouse, clay pigeons and now drones.

    Living on a farm, I have a neighbor who routinely has his friends over to shoot clay pigeons.  I prefer to be away from home during that activity.  One fall during duck hunting season, while working on my combine I and the machine was hit with a flurry of pellets returning from their sky trajectory.  They stung but fortunately no serious damage.

    Danger to others never seems to cross the mind of users of guns and drones – two of a feather.  Just think of the danger to people and property of a drone with 4 or 5 rapidly spinning blades fully exposed on all sides.  Sure its great for manufacturers keeping up the cash flow selling replacement blades.

    Why isn't a screen or cowling required to house drone blades?  Would you buy a large exposed blade stationery fan for you home?  Why does having it fly around the room somehow improve its acceptability?  In my mind the design of exposed blade drones is a direct violation of the engineering code of ethics.  There is no excuse except greed, which is not valid in any written code of ethics.

  2. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    February 3, 2016

    I agree that shooting into the sky is common…..with buckshot from shotguns.  The threats are from bullets that rifles and handguns fire.  They go much farther and are more dangerous than shot.  

    As for the blades, every little weight savings counts.  Some manufacturers put a circular ring around the blades that at least guards the outer edge (but not the inner blade surfaces).  Still, they're very dangerous when whirring as one singer recently found out when he grabbed a drone while in concert and ended up in the hospital.  Even worse was a recent article where the Dutch police force is teaching birds of prey to grab the drones in the air.  I don't know how they do it without getting chopped up.  I apologize for not having the links to these stories in this response.  I will be integrating the Dutch police link into the next blog.  I will try to find the reference to the concert injury too.  

  3. Richardpal
    February 4, 2016

    There is no excuse except greed, which is not valid in any written code of ethics.

  4. cookiejar
    February 4, 2016

    “every little weight savings counts”.  The same is true for vehicles.  But we all still expect manufacturers to install safety equipment which has significant weight, like seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, energy absorbing materials…

  5. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    February 4, 2016

    I agree but I also drive a 1971 Scout which features a lap style seat belt.  At best, it severes your spine and leaves you a parapalegic during an accident.  In other words, it took the automobile industry years and countless injuries and fatalities to achieve the level you mention.  Note that they have done it and the prices seem to have remained the same for about a decade….for base models at least.  It will take the drone industry the same amount of time and transition to mature to a safe level.   

    I'm not defending the industry.  I recently had to make a temporary fix on a 2012 Dodge Journey as they had made the washer squirter hose so short that it broke the connector off.  This is a sign of manufacturers cutting corners on any little thing they can.  I wonder how much material cost was saved by making that hose so short.  The same goes with the drone industry.  They will slash safety materials in order to reduce cost and increase flying time.  It's a game of numbers and the public is appealed to in order of priority.  Typically this is point of sale pricing first with safety way, way, down the line.  Profit rules and safety is reluctantly adhered to.  If a standard is lacking, few offer the upgraded advantage.  The fact that it's not yet a selling point is another reason safety is often left off.  I wrote several articles on purchasing drones for a customer xdrproducts and included the safety aspect in one of the blogs.  

    For some reason everyone wants to point out the bad in these articles yet others say technology is all good.  It really comes down to common sense.  You can have all the regulations in place that you want however if people don't implement them, they are worthless.   I try to present both sides on these issues without favoring either.


  6. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    February 4, 2016

    Greed is a driving force in every industry.  Integrity gets you pushed out.  I'm a first hand victim of that.  I might address it some day however I have much more relevent material to cover than writing material that may be taken as complaining.  The excuse for greed is profit.  Decisions are based purely on profit.  The day of loyalty has long since passed.  A prime example is the 401k where companies can gamble with your money and charge you fees that you have no idea how they are calculated.  The 401k replaced the pension which was once a way of companies showing loyalty to worker dedication.

    Companies have written codes of ethics.  It's like my other response in this article.  You can have all the written codes, laws, and regulations in documented form while still not adhering to them. 

    As an engineer I'd suggest that you learn all that you can while employed for two reasons.  1. it increases your value and may save you when the axe falls.  It will fall.  There is not a question of if.  It is a question of when.  It happens faster if they are dressing the place up for sale so be aware.  2.  The skills you learn on the job are applicable to future jobs or starting your own company.  Always, always, learn.

    I remember when Motorola required at least one week of training per year.  When the class opened, they would ask workers why they were there.  

    The majority of factory workers responded with, “Because my boss made me take the mandatory one week of training.”

    I would respond with, “Because I take advantage of every free lesson I'm offered so that when times get tough, I'll get hired over those who didn't.”


  7. cookiejar
    February 4, 2016

    It's sad that lawyers have to be the heroes when it comes to safety issues that engineers simply prefer to ignore.

    Once the injuries mount and aircraft are downed, then drone safety will be forced on us by brilliant legal minds.

    In the meantime the beancounting MBAs will be laughing all the way to the bank.

  8. happywheels9
    March 1, 2016

    Hey – great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I'm currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  9. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    March 1, 2016


    Thank you for the compliment.  This blog is run by the editor at Planet Analog.  I don't post the blogs or arrange the blog page.  I contribute the material and the editor posts it.

    For my personal blogs, I found the platform that you are using is the easiest for me.  I don't endorse them however I find it very easy to use.


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