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Training A Drone Spotter

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C. Blake Davis
Training A Drone Spotter
on Mar 23, 2017 at 12:49:54 pm

Hello all, I've just started working with a company that does a lot of drone videography.
According to the laws in our state we require a 'drone spotter' while operating in certain areas.

They plan for me to start working as a spotter, so I wanted to train myself a bit, but can't find anything related to my requirements or how to do it well (I assume the basics are "Make sure they don't hit anything").

Any recommendations of what makes a good spotter, or materials you can send my way?


Producer working in NorCal and Nashville

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Jennifer Pidgen
Re: Training A Drone Spotter
on Mar 23, 2017 at 6:35:05 pm

A visual observer (as they are known by FAA regulations) must adhere to the same guidelines as the Pilot in Command (PIC).

From §107.27:
  • 8 hours from "bottle to throttle" (no drinking of alcohol within the last 8 hours),
  • do not fly while under the influence of alcohol, including a hangover,
  • do not fly while using any drug that may adversely affect safety,
  • alcohol concentration below 0.04 in a blood or breath specimen.

From VLOS (§107.27) and VO (§107.33)
The aircraft must always be within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) of:
  • The remote-PIC and the person operating the drone, or
  • A visual observer (VO)
  • VLOS means the aircraft is close enough to be seen without any aid such as binoculars (Contact lenses or glasses are excluded) .

Visual Observers should always be in communication with the PIC....if they are not standing side-by-side, then use of radios would be necessary. Some of the key responsibilities of the Visual Observer:
  • Maintain VOLS with the aircraft
  • Ensure that no other aircraft or no other people on the ground enter your area of operation
  • Continuous communication with PIC on position, altitude, attitude, and movement of the sUAS
  • Is it hovering? Is it actually moving left vs. right? Is it shifting direction with the wind? Is it getting too close to a hazard/obstacle?
  • Has another aircraft been spotted in the vicinity? If so, should the sUAS be grounded?
  • If the aircraft is tasked to "return to home" (usually when something goes awry) ensuring communication to get the aircraft back safely

Bottom line, you're right, it is applying a lot of common sense in ensuring the safe flight of your sUAS operation. The visual observer's role is to "See and Avoid" and maintain a lookout for other potential hazards that may affect the safety of flight.

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Rich Rubasch
Re: Training A Drone Spotter
on Aug 11, 2017 at 9:07:46 pm

Don't take your eyes off the thing....

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage

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