Audio -Dwayne Griffin at Somervell County Commissioners Court on Unmanned Drones (UAV) -Jan 16 2015


Audio -Dwayne Griffin at Somervell County Commissioners Court on Unmanned Drones (UAV) -Jan 16 2015

13 February 2015 at 12:00:12 PM

AUDIO-mp3  (link to WMA on Somervell County website-thank you to Michelle Reynolds and Brian of IT for the WMA) 

Here was the agenda for that meeting, including board packet

Rough Transcript: Present to court for perusal (Dwayne, Shane and Allen all attended training). Brought UAV to show features, will plug it in and show what it does. Will beep and jump. Flight camera-observer and a pilot, always 2 preferably 3 people. Pilot wears occulus. Once you put these on and look forward, wheneer you turn your head left, you can see on the screen, look down, cameras are moving with operator's head, also being project inside occulus so pilot also sees. Can flight by Point of sight, Ipad or occulus. Has a Go Pro camera on the bottom. Controller can switch between whatever camera you want to watch. Infrard (put hand on shoulder and let it build up heat)GoPro is high definiont. (Griffin arms but it does not fly). Full checklist to go through before leaves the ground, making sure props are not cracked, all components in ground station. Flies off 14 different satellites, station by where it needs to go by GPS. GoPro stays steady no matter what you're watching, so person watching after doesn't get drunk from watching video. Several antennas for transmitting information, good for up to 2 miles. FAA regulations require line of sight of pilot or observer. 30 minute batteries, smaller batteries on for more lifting capacity, can lift 6 pounds as it sits, cellphone, water, radio, drop it off for someone, 22 minutes. Larger batteries, can lift but cuts lifting capacity by 2 pounds, can run these a full 30 minutes before have to land. Chart with minimum battery voltage. Rate of ascent or descent by meter, velocity, satellite tracking, asmuth reading, height off ground, distance from home position. Flip switch will fly home, 5 or 10 minutes will come back and land by itself. 7000 watt power inverter in Griffin's truck to charge batteries. 15 minutes to charge. Thru flight check after landing, put on new batteries and put it back out, 2 minutes. Can set way points; tell it how high you want to fly and then go don't have to touch controller, tell it if you want it stop and hover, rotate, bank turn, can preprogram all that into ipad. Can also program, touch ipad with preprogrammed flight grids, can select the grid you want, will take off and go. Shows actual ground lay, so can preprogram over the river, if we're searching for someone in the river. Brian Jones on fire department also trained, all 3 plus Brian have certificates, 12 full hours of training. Privacy. Texas State law as "Texas Privacy Act" specifically geared towards UAVs. SOP (standard operating procedure) has the Texas Privacy Act. First contact is the judge, judge has to give authorization for it to fly. If pilot finds that weather conditions are not conducive, he can cancel, but solely up to the judge. If judge not available, SOP Dwayne, Sherrif or Fire Chief are all heads over this, then 2 of the other 3 have to concur that this is a mission necessary. 4 trained will act as observers, can also train additional observers. Watch voltage and air traffic to make sure no airplanes in the vicinity. For security reasons, FAA closes certain airspaces (like for President) so have to watch for that. Checked online before flown. Should not ever be in Glen Rose, we are in class "G" airspace by FAA. Can go up to 8000 feet can never be flown over 400 feet over the ground. Stays out of trail of private and commercial aircraft (private is 500 feet). Any UAV not allowed to fly over 400 feet, realistically anything over 200 feet cameras are no good anyway, so would probably be 100 feet or less, right over tree lines. Any restriction around nuclear plant? Comanche Peak doesn't want them flying around nuclear plant, going for a MOU (memorandum of understanding) in case of terrorist attack, etc. Safe limit of 21 and a half volts must have it back on the ground. If over a body of water will set itself down in body of water if it runs out of battery. (WARNING SOUND) Heat proof? 0 degrees to 110 degrees farenheit on ground. Discussed flying over wildfires won't hurt it unless you fly it through the flame. Can fly on heavy overcast day but don't recommend in the rain, wouldn't bring it down but could hurt the avionics. Under 15 mph wind fine unless you take it off GPS. Can go get coffee and a donut and come back will hold position with GPS. If take off with GPS and wind gust, will take off. Don't know why you'd want to fly it out of GPS mode. Home is wherever you start, doesn't have to have a specific position.New home, from wherever it originally took off. Lands within a foot of the square, with high wind gusts. SOP- 3 hours a month continuing training. Mechanics straightforward. Training shoudl be adequate. Other component is a thorough understanding of 463/423 of government code. Each pilot issued packet with that gov code, draft copy of SOP and also emergency procedures, what pilot needs to do to get it back home safely is lose connection. (didn't bring emergency procedures document). Living document, any changes would come back to the board, definitely go before the judge. Any time we come across something not in SOP that we need to address will go back and change the document. Also have flight log, any time it's flown, placed in flight log, who requested, date time, what it's for, and results of the flight. Requests by other outside agencies? FAA applied by COA (Certificate of Authorization) operates inside Somervell County. If another agency asks for it, that would be up to the judge to determine if it goes outside this county (life or death situation). Right now Sep 15 FAA supposed to come up with new regulations on UAVs. Word is that they are looking at doing away with all FAA regulations on anything less than 55 pounds. Would have to take a FAA UAV training course on safe operations. But right now, we're required to go take an FAA approved ground school as if we were going to be pilots. Asking for private ground school training course online $279 per pilot, Kings schools online will train 4 of us for the price of 3. Griffin has money in training budget to pay for this, asking if okay to take from training budget or from Comanche Peak grant. As of Sep 15, that will probably go away. Applied for a waiver, anythign that flies within 5 miles of any airport, privately owned, grass, paved, etc is an airport. We have 8 airports in Somervell County, only one that is still operational. Over last 8 years had 35 take off and land out of all airports, all but one are non-functional. Elio Brazos off 67 near CR 1003. 30 takeoffs and landings last year. Waiver requires you have a full pilots license if you fly within 5 miles of any airport, asked for ground school to be able to operate around private airporst, anyhing other than G class would be required to be full pilots. Lenght of ground school training, expiration? No. Brian (auditor) put on separate agenda to discuss where money needs to come from. Curtis. MOtion to accept SOP, Wood Second. Passes 4-0. 

Last post about this from meeting in 2014




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1 - r u serious   13 Feb 2015 @ 1:25:03 PM  Someone said at commissioners meeting this week that insurance for the drone was going to be thousands of dollars a year....sounds like our usual great investing strategy.

2 - salon   13 Feb 2015 @ 2:13:11 PM 

@r u serious- to be precise, the money for this came from Luminant in the form of a $50,000 gift. Part of that money is going for the first year of insurance, about $3000, so at least for the first year is not costing the county anything. 

And, have to add, at least the money is being spent IN THIS COUNTY, unlike the Somervell County Hospital District that is spending taxpayer money in ANOTHER DISTRICT, Hood County, which itself at this point pays NO tax. Thanks, Somervell County Hospital District for taking MY tax money and giving it for hte benefit of people living in a gated community that is not public.

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3 - r u seiuos   13 Feb 2015 @ 6:27:57 PM  I understand Luminat gave us the original $50,000 we buy a drone, we get 3 people trained ect.but the thousands of dollars of insurance will be a line item in future county budgets.Maybe I missed where Luminant is giving us a grant every year for insurance training, upgrades ect.

4 - salon   13 Feb 2015 @ 8:07:12 PM 

We agree. As I said, "at least for the first year". ... What's going to be interesting is seeing how the drone will actually be used, since all activities will be logged. 4 people are actually going to be trained as pilots, which requirements may be changed by the FAA in Sept. 

Would like to see the same level of concern about Somervell County taxpayers spending money in another hospital district in another county in a gated, private community not open to the public. I have heard there are a few  that would like to spend even more money in that other district or outside of this district in the other direction, AS IF Glen Rose Medical Center were a private hospital instead of a public one. 

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5 - salon   15 Feb 2015 @ 12:10:54 PM 

Incidentally, the FAA released the drone rules today. 

The FAA proposal would allow drones weighing up to 55 pounds to fly within sight of their remote pilots during daylight hours. The aircraft must stay below 500 feet in the air and fly less than 100 mph.

People flying drones would need to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautics test and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration, but a certificate wouldn't require the flight hours or medical rating of a private pilot's license.

"We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. "We want to maintain today's outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry."

and commercial drones?

Probably the biggest change is that commercial pilots will now be considered operators. They would have to pass an test at an FAA facility, obtain a certificate rated for flying small unmanned aircraft, and renew that test every two years. They will not, however, have to log many hours of practice before hand, as would be required by a commercial pilot's license for airplanes.

The FAA proposal also added an age limit of 17. No person can fly more than one drone at a time and operators must provide their drone to the FAA for inspection upon request.

Commercial drones would have to stay under 500 feet, fly only during the day, and operate within a pilot's line of sight. Amazon's delivery drone, in other words, is still just a fantasy. But drones could become commonplace on farms, construction sites, and during search and rescue operations. The rules would apply to all units classified as "small" unmanned aircraft, which the FAA defines as 55 pounds.


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