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No compliance without respect

2 June 2017

Rules and regulations are an important part of a civilised, safe society.

For this reason, we appoint groups of suitably knowledgeable and qualified people to come up with these rules/regs, relying on them to act in an objective, ethical and honest manner when doing so.

Rules that are made with prejudice towards or against a specific group are bad rules. When they compromise the original imperative (usually safety) with commercial, personal or other bias, the result is almost always bad.

Here in New Zealand, we rely on various government departments to come up with rules and regulations that strike a fair balance between rights and responsibilities. We rely on those rules to be fair to all parties affected and to be made with due consideration for the facts.

Well I have to say that I have grave concerns about one department and the objectivity of the information on which it will be basing its regulations.

Take a look at this image from a recent CAA presentation on drones/RPAS.

Clearly, CAA is representing that the small plastic drone on the ground has caused the damage shown to this AS350 helicopter.

But do the math and it just doesn't add up.

The drone weighs just over 1Kg and has a *maximum* speed of 15.5m/S. That's an absolute maximum energy of 144 Joules.

The drone is made from deformable plastic and has a number of easily damaged components such as propellers, undercarriage legs and camera gimbal.

The exhaust tailpipe on the helicopter is made from Inconel -- a very strong metal with a high Young's Modulus (resistance to deformation), almost twice that of titanium in fact.

Given that the drone appears undamaged and the claim is that this collision took place on the ground (hence the helicopter was not moving and contributed no energy to the collision), it is simply not possible for this lightweight, frangible craft to have inflicted such a massive amount of deformation on an Inconel tube with two sets of rolled beads (which further increase strength and stiffness).

Indeed, upon being challenged, I gather that CAA did admit that they also doubt the credibility of the claim.

So why the bloody hell is this bullshirt in a CAA presentation on the risks associated with drones and presented as a fact?

This is propaganda and hyperbole of the highest order and shatters any credibility that CAA may have had when claiming to be impartial or objective in its approach to rule-making.

We all know that the manned aviation industry is very worried by the rapid rise in drone use. Worried, not because they fear for their lives but because they fear for their livelihoods.

As a result of this we've seen groups such as the NZ Airline Pilots Association (NZALPA) rolling out a campaign of drivel and disinformation designed to convince the public and CAA to support more restrictive regulation of the unmanned sector -- including your toys.

Now CAA appears to have become party to the disinformation being spread by some sectors of the manned aviation industry -- and of course helicopter pilots are likely to be the most worried about their jobs because much of the stuff they now do could easily be done by unmanned craft in future.

I'm appalled at the way CAA does not check its facts -- and this isn't the first instance of such ridiculous disinformation from them. They grossly overstated the number of "incidents" involving drones during 2015/16 and it wasn't until the figures were checked by an independent third party that they corrected the "error".

CAA is used to gaining compliance with its regulations by way of force. If you have a pilot's license and you break the regulations, CAA can take that license from you so by virtue of this threat, pilots tend to be a relatively compliant lot.

The situation with recreational drones however, is entirely different.

CAA do not have the resources to follow-up every complaint of recreational drone misuse and even if they did, the fines and penalties metered out are unlikely to be more of a deterrent than the speeding and parking fines that most people accept as a "risk" of using a car.

The best way for CAA go get maximum compliance from the recreational drone community is to gain their respect. People tend to obey those who they respect and disobey those who they hold in contempt. What's more, CAA must respect the intelligence of those to whom these regulations apply and engaging in blatant misinformation is not the way to do it.

Well wake up CAA. Bullshirting people like you are currently doing is never going to earn you their respect -- in fact, quite the opposite, you will receive nothing but contempt.

What's more, when there appears (whether true or not) to be an agenda which favours manned aviation and penalises unmanned aviation then you simply get people's backs up and that will result in lower levels of compliance and greater risk to all parties.

And remember, this is a regulator who believes they have a right and a responsibility to regulate tiny 20g children's toys because, it is alleged, they pose a threat to the national airspace.

What do readers think?

Are CAA operating to an acceptable standard and if not, what should be done about it?

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