Category Archives: Drone

The FAA Wants You to Text While Flying

That’s right. The FAA wants pilots to text while flying. But not on your phone. A VHF Data Link, is the digital conduit for text messages between ATC and airplanes. Consider it the next step in the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Right now participation is voluntary, but one way or another, that may change once we get past the ADS-B deadline of January 1, 2020 (How are you doing on that, by the way?).

There’s no telling if or when there will be a similar mandate for data communication equipment, but ATC has ways of encouraging aircraft operators to step up. First among them is serving first those aircraft with the desired equipment. And with data comm, being equipped is the only way to take advantage of the service.

For those fuzzy on exactly what data comm is, and what it can do, in simple terms, it’s a text message a controller sends to a pilot. When the system is fully operational, it could be anything from an IFR clearance to reroutes to a alternate destination and just about anything in between. The messages use a set format. Upon receipt, the pilot reads and then pushes a button to accept or decline the instructions. If accepted, the pilot then hits another button to load the instructions into the airplanes flight management system.

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B4U Fly

B4U flyThe FAA on Tuesday released a new smartphone app called – B4U Fly – to tell users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The app is now available for Apple devices and can be downloaded from the App Store.

The B4UFLY app includes a number of enhancements the FAA developed as a result of user feedback during the beta testing announced in May 2015 . Within two taps, users know if it is safe to fly at their current location. The app provides a status indicator that tells users: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning – Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” The app also features a planner mode that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time.

By law, hobbyists who want to fly within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control facility (if there is one) prior to flying. For now, B4UFLY will ask users who are supposed to notify the airport before flying for voluntary information about their planned flight. This will not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control facility, but the data will help the agency make informed policy decisions related to notification. This information will not be publicly available.

More detailed information is available at  B4UFLY webpage.

Residents Turn to PWK as Drone Resource

drone 2Every holiday season is busy, for everyone these days. This year, 2015, opened a door into a new world of safety concerns for everyone who operates at Chicago Executive airport.

A few weeks before Christmas, as sales projections for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones as most of us call them, indicated more than a million of these little buzzers might find their way under Christmas trees around the U.S., aviation-industry thinking began to realize that many of those drones would soon be operated by people who knew next to nothing about the aviation industry. The airspace above everyone’s is very well organized to ensure that every aircraft in the sky, does so safely. But how could we talk to new drone operators and tell them that their drone might end up becoming a nuisance to aircraft, at best, or a hazard at worst, much the way the hazardous use of laser pointers has increased the past five year?

The airport management team at Chicago Executive airport, as well as the Board of Directors, decided to preempt the potential for a collision between a drone and an airplane by creating a public education campaign to inform users of the dangers their vehicles could create should they be flying within five miles of any airport, but specifically around PWK. The information we’ve gathered over the past month has formed the basis of the airport’s new Drone Resource page where users will find useful links to FAA documents, safety-training videos and organizations that support the drone industry.  We were pleased the Daily Herald thought enough of our recent efforts to run a front page story about drones on Christmas Eve. People can subscribe to airport updates on the resource page that will include fresh information about drones as soon as we receive it.

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The airport doesn’t want to restrict anyone’s use of a new UAV. In fact, we don’t have such authority anyway. But we would like this new class of aviators to realize the safety of everyone on board a manned aircraft could be threatened when people operate drones irresponsibly, especially near an airport.

We’d like to urge anyone operating, or thinking about operating a drone, to take a look at our new resource page, or pass this link along to anyone in the community they think might benefit from better understanding the safety issues surrounding a potential mix-up of UAVs and airplanes. Of course we’re also here to answer your questions about how drones fit into the world these days. You’ll find all the contact information you need on our Drone Resource page.



Drone Course Offers PWK Pilots New Opportunities

Vortex Drone session, 5/30/15 at Atlantic Aviation, PWK.

Vortex drone demonstration by Vortex UAS at Atlantic Aviation, PWK

From the EditorsWelcome to the first edition of the airport newsletter in a digital form. Our goal is to bring you interesting stories about KPWK on a bi-weekly basis that can be easily read in the format more and more people tell us they want.

Best of all, there’s no need for you to keep wondering when they next story runs because a free subscription will bring a notice directly to your inbox. You’ll find subscription details on the right side of this blog page.

So let us know what you think. And don’t hesitate to send us your ideas for people, events or those stories you’ve noticed around the airport that that no one else has.

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The notice that Vortex UAS was going to hold an introductory course for drone pilots at Atlantic Aviation on Chicago Executive Airport confused some and concerned others.

Vince Donohue, a corporate pilot and president of Vortex UAS efficiently explained that as the rules exist today, to be used for commercial, for-hire purposes, a drone must be operated by an FAA certificated pilot.

Nodding toward his multi-rotor and fixed wing drones on the table, Donohue said their operation had little in common with the aircraft the half-dozen pilots in the course flew. But drones are aircraft that operate in the National Airspace System, and the participants’ pilot certification demonstrated their knowledge of FAA regulations—and first-hand experience—of operating in it.

The educational goal of the 4-hour course was to introduce the pilots to the growing aviation opportunities drones represent. The participants were evenly divided between recent and just-about-to-graduate collegiate aviators and veterans a generation older. Donohue explained the history of drones, the elements of unmanned aerial vehicles, and the components of an unmanned aircraft system, which includes the ground control station.

Addressing the legal landscape, Donohue said commercial drone operations exist today, work under case-by-case approvals, which his company will soon receive from the FAA. Flying them is a part-time opportunity, but that will change significantly when the FAA issues the final drone operating rules in the next year or so.

Before addressing current drone technology, their capabilities, and coming career opportunities, Donohue demonstrated the precise control of two camera-equipped multi-rotor drones in an adjacent hangar. One of them barely filled his hand. In the classroom, videos demonstrated a number of drone applications that shared the safe and economical flight of various sensors that accomplish hundreds of different missions.

Vortex UAS has three missions, Donohue said, training pilots to operate drones, to facilitate commercial drone missions, and to advocate for their safe and efficient integration into aviation. As it does in other industries and aspects of aviation, success in the infant drone industry hinges on the unified employment of knowledge and skills, networking, and experience, said Donohue. Vortex UAS offers all three, with expanding opportunities now that the company has earned its 333 exemption from the FAA.

Vortex’s next drone pilot class begins at KPWK on September 19. More information’s available at the VortexUAS training site.