First Person View (FPV) flying is a branch of the model aircraft hobby whereby the pilot controls the model using a video image transmitted from an onboard camera to a screen or goggles at ground level rather than directly observing the aircraft.  FPV equipment can be fitted to any flying model including power, glider, helicopter and multi rotor.  New Zealand CAA restricts FPV operations to flying for sporting or recreational purposes and within direct line of sight of the pilot/observer.  All other operations using video transmission for control fall within UAV/ UAS regulations. 

Regulatory Requirements.

CAA regulations require that FPV flying takes place within the following constraints:
1.       The model must remain within the  height restrictions for the flying site.
2.       The model must remain within the direct line of sight (LOS) of the pilot/observer
3.       The pilot using the FPV equipment must be accompanied by an observer who can maintain a lookout for other aircraft and assist the pilot with identification and orientation of the model in the event of any system failure.

MFNZ Recommendations for successful FPV flying

1.            Safe Airframes
Where appropriate, pilots should use lightweight, low-speed models which will minimise impact forces if things go wrong. Faster, heavier aircraft should only be used when the FPV pilot is expert and is flying in a suitable and safe location (i.e. far away from people and property).FPV aircraft should only use electric motors for propulsion. Liquid fuelled motors and Jet engines should not be used. Aircraft should not weigh more than 5 kg and not be capable of more than 100kph in level flight. 

2.            Safe Location
Pilots should make a considered judgment when choosing their FPV flying field and only fly from a safe location away from populated areas and busy roads. It is important to consider whether, in the event of something going wrong during a flight, the location is safe.

3.            Suitable Conditions
Pilots should only fly when weather conditions are suitable for their aircraft and their level of    ability. Nil wind is usually ideal (with the exception of slope soaring) and anything below approximately 10kph is suitable for beginners with most aircraft. Pilots should leave more challenging conditions until they have considerable FPV flight experience. Beginners should choose a bright day with a clear horizon so that they have a good attitude reference.

4.            Quality Equipment
As with all R/C flying it is important to use good quality components. In addition to a good quality radio transmitter, receiver, servos, etc. a good quality camera should be used that has adequate resolution to easily see the plane's attitude, location, and proximity to other objects. Pilots should also ensure that a high quality video downlink and viewing system (eg video goggles) are used. Pilots should select high quality tried and tested components available from the dedicated FPV sources. The video link and the control link must use different frequencies.  If using 2.4Ghz for the video link, interference may occur with other users of 2.4Ghz equipment at the flying site.  This may result in loss of the video link for the FPV aircraft and loss of control for other pilots. When designing an FPV system it is best to choose R/C and video frequencies that are significantly separated. For example 35MHz R/C control and 2.4GHz video, or 2.4GHz R/C control and 5.8GHz video. Return to home/ Return to land systems, if fitted should not be used to assist with flight beyond the visual range of the pilot/observer.  

5.            Pre-Flight Checks
Pilots should:
a) double check the centre of gravity location of their aircraft before flight.
b) check R/C Tx/Rx range – as specified in the transmitter manual.
c) repeat the R/C Tx/Rx range check with the video Tx switched on.
d) check the video system range. On new set-ups this is best done by flying a LOS circuit whilst recording the FPV feed and then checking the quality before attempting to fly FPV. Alternatively this can be checked by someone else flying a LOS circuit with the newly configured aircraft whilst the pilot monitors the live video. Nb. Ground   range tests of video will usually show 1/4 to 1/3 of air to ground range. 

6.            Battery Charge Status
Flying FPV can involve several more batteries than normal R/C flight. All batteries should be checked for full charge before each flight. If possible the pilot should power all ground equipment from a single, voltage/ capacity remaining monitored audio-alarmed high-capacity source (eg a large capacity gel cell). Ideally the airborne equipment should similarly be powered from a single voltage/ capacity remaining monitored battery, or several if they can all be monitored through an OSD/ low battery display.
The batteries may include:
a)            Video Receiver Battery
b)            Video Transmitter/ Camera Battery
c)            Aircraft (Motor) Battery
d)            Video Goggles Battery
e)            R/C Transmitter Battery

7.       Training
First Person View flying means that the pilot controls the aircraft by reference to the horizon just as with full-sized aviation. It is recommended that novice FPV pilots practice on a radio control simulator with FPV mode and become proficient before attempting FPV flight for real. Before attempting a first flight it is a good idea for a novice FPV pilot to wear the goggles and view the video feed as a "passenger" whilst another pilot flies the aircraft. This will give the new pilot a feel for FPV flying and allow him to become familiar with the flying field and locality before taking control. Until the pilot is proficient at flying FPV, it is advisable that flights are carried out with an experienced person in charge who will carry out the take offs and landings by traditional line of sight flying.

8.       Positional Awareness

FPV flying is different to line-of-sight flying. The pilot sees a completely different perspective, and during his first flights, it is easy to lose track of where the aircraft is relative to the flying field - especially when directly above it. Pilots should get to know the flying field and locality from the air by flying as a "passenger" and also by using tools such as OS maps, or Google Maps/ Google Earth to become familiar with the terrain, trees, buildings, roads, landmarks, etc. Equipment such as OSDs (on screen displays) which can overlay GPS data on to the pilot's screen and provide an arrow and distance back to the field ensure that positional awareness is never lost. Flights should be planned to ensure that obstacles such as woods or terrain cannot come between the plane and the pilot thus disrupting control or vision. The observer should be able to see the entire area of operation and be able to spot full-size aircraft that may entering the model flying area.  The observer should establish an effective communication routine to inform the pilot of full-size activity and how to maintain separation between models and aircraft. 

9.      BEC Capacity
If the aircraft uses servos for a pan/ tilt mount, the pilot should ensure that the BEC on the ESC can drive the total number of servos in the system – or they should use a UBEC. Most BECs, especially when running off 3s LiPos, can only drive 3 or 4 servos. (Regulating the voltage down to 5v creates heat - and supplying amps to servos creates heat: too many volts or too many servos can result in thermal overload - which shuts down the BEC and the power  to the Receiver). If 3 or 4 servos are already in use to fly the plane, adding 2 more for the pan/tilt mount could result in disaster. Pilots need to take care not to overload their BEC. 

1.            All members are responsible for familiarizing themselves and complying with Civil Aviation Laws applicable to model flying. See NZ CAA Rule Part 101.  
2.            FPV activities are confined to the flying of model aircraft for sporting and   recreational purposes.  
3.            Members involved in any type of incident that could lead to an insurance claim must  not admit fault or liability.  
4.            When flying from club sites pilots must familiarise themselves, and comply with the  club site rules.  
5.            Members must not act in a manner which brings or may bring MFNZ or the FPV activity in general into disrepute.

Multirotor Wings Badge is currently offline, Please contact the Secretary, as these are being re-written.

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