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Here's an email that I just got from the FAA. I thought it might be of interest.



Drones and Weapons, A Dangerous Mix

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning the general public that it is illegal to operate a drone with a dangerous weapon attached.

Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.

Operating a drone that has a dangerous weapon attached to it is a violation of Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act enacted Oct. 5, 2018. Operators are subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the operator has received specific authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation. “Dangerous Weapon” means any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.

Operators should keep in mind that federal regulations and statutes that generally govern drone operations still apply. Some state and federal criminal laws regarding weapons and hazardous materials may also apply to drone operators or manufacturers involved in certain operations.
 

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A year or two ago, I saw a youtube video of a drone with a full auto AKM mounted, making repeat passes at a practice target and being fired remotely. Very cool, but the video didn't stay up for long.
 

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“Dangerous Weapon” means any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.
So, according to that definition, civilian piloted drones basically can carry a maximum of around 0.34kg (~0.75lb) of attached weight. Why? Well, any object of that weight is 'readily capable of causing … serious bodily injury' should it free fall from the drone and strike someone.

Notice that intent is not required … so the mere possibility of the object coming loose and falling (or being intentionally dropped) … fits the above definition. And as to the serious bodily injury we're talking about? Well, let's say the drone is at max legal altitude thanks to the pilot actually respecting the 400ft (133 meter) ceiling. A 0.34kg (~0.75lb) object will free fall ~5.21 seconds until impact and, at the time of impact, it will be going ~51 meters/second (~114mph) and deliver ~443 joules (~327 ft lb) of kinetic energy to that which it strikes.

You're all gun people, here, so I presume you're well-enough versed in the kinetic energy transfers associated with missiles to know that the above won't readily kill, induce hydrostatic shock, or anything even close. However, I don't think any reasonable person among you will despute that the above kind of energy transfer from a free falling object is 'readily capable of causing … serious bodily injury' (per the definition's verbiage) to a human upon impact. For proper perspective, ~327 ft lb of kinetic energy delivered would be about like being hit with a subsonic .300 BLK round at a range of 350 yards. It probably wouldn't kill you (unless it hit you in the head?) … and because what fell on you was much bigger than a .300 BLK round, it might not even pierce your skin -- but the blunt force trauma delivered across a significantly larger area than a bullet might well shatter/break bones (depending on what part of the body it struck, of course).

Simple math on a 0.34kg (0.75lb) object shows us it meets the definition … so, clearly it's illegal to attach that kind of weight (or more) to a drone if the definition, above, is applicable. Again, as a reminder, intent is absent from the definition; it's the potential result that appears to govern. With that in mind, what's the point of making/selling/owning drones that can carry that sort of weight if carrying it is, per the (entirely too loose, piss-poor, IMHO) definition, above … illegal?

Effectively, the government's definition appears to amount to:
"So sorry, no medium-to-large camera equipment permitted on your civilian piloted drone, as it could come loose and fall … and if it does, it is 'readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury' should it hit someone … so we can't permit that."

Surreal

P.S. In performing this mental exercise, I lazily failed to account for the effects of air resistance, crosswinds, the object's aerodynamic properties (is it a parachute?!) and the like on the above calculations -- figuring the rough numbers on an un-aerodynamic block (like, say, a camera) were 'good enough' for my purposes. Thus, there's a certain percentage error I'm handwaving away, and the scientist in me is forced to acknowledge it, here. Anyone who wishes to improve upon the above calculations by considering such additional factors is both welcome and encouraged to do so! Also, I welcome a double-check in case I made errors, as this was written while taking my first cup of coffee after a very late night.
 

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Surreal', your point is taken, but a camera firmly fixed to the drone doesn't sound like it meets the definition. "Camera bombing" sounds cost-prohibitive as well. :eek:
Moon
 

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So, can a weapon equipped drone be registered and NFA taxed if listed as a "Destructive Device"? I wonder if anyone has tried to register one yet.
 

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So, can a weapon equipped drone be registered and NFA taxed if listed as a "Destructive Device"? I wonder if anyone has tried to register one yet.

Show me the attorney who can negotiate that deal. :rolleyes:
Moon
 

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How else would you classify such a weapon or weapon delivery system, other than a "destructive device"? Take a mortar. The mortar is the weapon/delivery system, the shell is also a destructive device. Two tax stamps; but totally legal, and provided for by the NFA. No need for an attorney, just a Form 1 or Form 4 for each. The legal provisions are already in place.
 

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Surreal', your point is taken, but a camera firmly fixed to the drone doesn't sound like it meets the definition. "Camera bombing" sounds cost-prohibitive as well. :eek:
Moon
Moon,
Firmly-affixed today can be rattled loose and falling, tomorrow, since bolts, nuts, and other fixtures do loosen over time, even with things like Loctite. Now if you want to 'pin' the camera to the drone (in the same sense that a flash hider can be 'pinned' to a 14" barreled AR-15 to render it a 16" barrel for legal purposes … i.e. "welded") … then I agree that the camera is firmly fixed to the drone in a way that doesn't meet the definition. However, anything short of such permanent attachment … results in the attached object still being "readily capable of causing … serious bodily injury' should it happen to free fall from the drone and strike someone.

Again, probability of occurrence is not relevant to the definition's text, as written. Neither is intended use of the attachment. i.e. It doesn't matter if you intended to photograph things with the camera that fell on someone; what matters is whether the camera you have on the drone is "readily capable of causing … serious bodily injury' IF it falls on someone.

It's a terrible definition … and the above may not have been what the authors of it intended … but it's the definition apparently used for the law -- and the law is exactly what it says - no more and no less.

Surreal

P.S. I hate drones because I believe the space they are supposedly permitted to fly in … violates every American property owner's civil rights because an easement has effectively been placed on all privately owned properties by the United States (a la the FAA) without any monies having been paid for the taking of the private properties for public use. Here's why. Navigable airspace is 500 feet and higher. Everything under 500 feet has since 1946 SCOTUS precedent set in United States v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256 been the dominion of the property owner, who has dominion on his/her property over "at least as much of the space above the ground as [s/he] can occupy or use in connection with the land.” That case was a 5th Amendment takings clause case -- one that was even local to me, as it took place on a 2.8 acre tract of land near an airport in Greensboro, NC. The glidepath of landing planes brought them below the threshold of navigable airspace over that 2.8 acre tract, and, in its decision the SCOTUS held that the United States had taken an easement over the property on June 1, 1942 ... and that the value of the property destroyed and the easement taken was $2,000. Now, in recent years, the FAA has allowed drones at 400 feet or less -- i.e. below navigable airspace and, thus, within the already-established (prior to the FAA's 400ft drone rule) dominion of property owners -- which I believe effectively amounts to a 5th Amendment takings clause violation against every property owner in America by the FAA change … given the precedent I just cited. If/when Amazon starts drone delivery over people's houses and they have a highway of buzzing, battery-operated nuisance flying near their rooflines via the easement the FAA placed on all privately held property without the United States government paying a dime for it, this will matter, more ... as it's a civil rights violation on a massive scale that, if called out, will result in the government owing a metric crap-ton of people an even larger metric crap-ton of money in damages. Unless, of course, our civil rights don't matter anymore...
 

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Damn, I thought the ATF just told the FAA that drones can be shot down if considered a nuisance! :rolleyes::D

(I love opening cans of worms...but only sometimes....)



Saw a drone a few days ago, walking into my work. Damn thing was faster than hell, sounded like a flying weedeater. You'd have to be a damned fancy shot to "bag" one...


I'd actually like to have one, if for nothing else, to fly it up high enough to take aerial pictures of a few areas of my farm that are hard to access while my atv is at the shop.

The novelty of the thing would quickly wear off, and then I'd likely sell it for a loss...

I think I'll buy some beer and a movie and a pizza. Watch some mindless show while gorging myself and cleaning a couple of guns LOL.
 

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Saw a drone a few days ago, walking into my work. Damn thing was faster than hell, sounded like a flying weedeater. You'd have to be a damned fancy shot to "bag" one...
I'm pretty sure waterfowl are far harder to hit than drones would be, given that drone flight is a lot more predictable than that of waterfowl. And I've been hunting waterfowl most of my life...

Make of that what you will. :)
 
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