Since October 23rd GoPro have sold approximately 2,500 Karma photo drones and all have been recalled due to a technical fault with the power supply.
With no replacement units being offered and a cut of 15% of their workforce this is surely a telling sign that the action camera professionals are having a torrid time and could be hitting a brick wall.
Without the Karma all they have is an updated action camera which is being undermined by a myriad of cheaper and just as effective alternatives. Clever upgrades such as voice activation may not be enough to encourage owners of older models to upgrade either.
CEO Nicholas Woodman has said “a very small number of Karma owners have reported incidents of power failure…….We are very sorry and taking every step to make the return process as easy as possible.”
You have to consider that seeing their sales of cameras shrink, that they pushed the Karma to get it to market as soon as possible to catch the Christmas rush and that someone in the organisation must have know that there was a problem with the power system. The fact that this is completely irresponsible – after all, we are always being told about near misses with aircraft and accidents involving people being hit by drones – the FAA should consider taking drastic action against the company to prevent them releasing dangerous quadcopters on the unsuspecting public.
It has widely been reported that a drone hit a British Airways Airbus A320 on approaching to land at Heathrow Airport.
If there was an idiot flying a drone on one of the approach routes to Heathrow then they really need to be found and locked up.
Unfortunately it is another reason why the CAA should be striving for compulsory UAV registration. It will not stop idiots from doing stupid things, but it may make people think about what they are doing. Anything which helps remove this kind of operator from circulation has to be applauded.
If I took my UAV to Heathrow it would not fly due to the inbuilt Geo Fencing software, so have these people tampered with the one on their system? Possibly, but it is more likely that they have an older version, or have built it themselves, thus bypassing the safety features inherent in new UAVs such as the DJI Phantom 4.
Fly safely and stick to the rules. If you do not know the rules, go to the CAA website. Get some instruction, either from your local hobby flying club, or from a professional company like RUSTA. Don’t fly in restricted airspace, you are endangering peoples lives.
What the industry needs is clear direction from the CAA and their European colleagues EASA with a common policy covering the whole of Europe. All singing from the same page – same rules, same registration procedure – clear understanding from everyone. It can’t be that difficult can it? The FAA seem to be doing a good job.
On 19th February, 5,500 feet above Paris, an Air France Airbus A320 was descending to land at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The first Officer spotted a rogue drone flying within 5 meters of the aircraft.
He had to disengage the autopilot and make an emergency manoeuvre to avoid the offending drone. The aircraft was descending at 1000 feet per minute and was doing 220 knots at the time. The drone passed 5 meters under the left wing of the Airbus. Way too close for comfort and the drone operator must have known what he was doing.
It has not been revealed how many people where on the plane at the time, which was returning from Barcelona, Spain.
In France the operational height limit for a drone is 500 feet, and they should not be flown within 9 miles of major airport like Charles de Gaulle.
If idiots such as this drone pilot, who needs to be located and ‘dealt’ with, continue to invade restricted areas like this then the authorities are going to restrict drone use even more. Not to mention the danger this presents to the travelling public. It is almost inevitable that a major incident is going to happen so we must instigate control measures which work.
Since the technology for detection and removal of drones is not quite ready yet, perhaps major airports should be using some form of observation to protect their skies.
The drone pilot community also need to help by informing on anyone they know of who is flaunting the law in such a dangerous way.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) are establishing an aviation rule making committee with indurty stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework for certain types of UAS (UAV/Drone) to be operated over people who are not directly in operating the aircraft.
The committee will be recommending performance-based standards for the classification and operation of specific UAS craft to flown over people/populated areas safely.
They will begin work in March and will submit their final report on 1st April.
The FAA are aiming at providing a flexible framework for different UAS vehicles to operated in different ways.
The CAA will be following proceedings closely, hopefully, and we would like to see some progress here in the UK.
For the humble drone to move forward we need to unshackle the LOS (Line of sight) limitations. Now AT&T and Intel have demonstrated a drone being controlled through LTE Networks rather than the current 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz methods used.
This will open up the flight paths for higher and longer flights, and the ability to control drones over much longer distances.
For industry this should mean companies like AT&T can send a drone to investigate power lines, masts and weather affected areas to assess damage and improve efficiency of dealing with infrastructure problems, prior to sending a team to deal with it.
For delivery companies it means freeing up the airwaves to move on delivering goods without having to be in sight of the drone, an essential step forward.
For farming it would mean being able to send your drone to investigate crop growth, flooding, animal herds – all from your control room, tractor cab, or wherever you are.