Jump to content

Regs on low flights over whales


kodoz
 Share

See the video below  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Is this pilot violating any regulation by "buzzing" these whales?

    • Definitely. You can't do that when whales are around. Take his certs and lock him up.
    • Yes, but it has nothing to do with the presence of sea life.
    • No, show me a reg (91.13 excluded) that he's busting.
  2. 2. If he'd been flying a helicopter, would he be busting any regs?



Recommended Posts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWHszdKl9BM

 

This is a recent news story (seriously, and the mob is after this guy). The pilot is accused of...

 

ignoring NOAA and Federal Aviation Administration flight rules: Aircraft must fly at least 1,000 feet above the water when killer whales are present.

 

So is he busting any regs? Would it be different if he'd been in a helicopter? Explain your answer, and no googling the story before answering the poll questions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I asked one of our pilots who is a Seaplane instructor (useless rating to have in CO) about this. He says no, because they are over the "ocean" and thus an unpopulated area. And while it is hard to tell from the video it seems like they meet the requirements to be 1000 feet from any person or building in a unpopulated area (they are at sea). It actually looks like the guy is landing at the end of the video but I am not sure.

 

Same thing would apply to Helicopters. So from the FARs he is probably safe, there is nothing that he was aware of that specifically covers killer whales, but depending on where this video is shot it could be a natural habitat and then some altitude restrictions would apply to both fixed wing and helicopters.

 

There might be some environmental protection (or some other) agency rules that apply but they don't usually regulate the sky.

 

There are lots of companies who do aerial whale watching as do many government and environmental agencies.

 

Having said that. The press is full of idiots, and the eco nut cases who tend to gather around whales like this are even worse. So they sit around and spout anything they want and the press eats that crap up, and of course never checks its validity.

 

I don't think this guy has anything to worry about other than some overzealous eco nutcases.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And while it is hard to tell from the video it seems like they meet the requirements to be 1000 feet from any person or building in a unpopulated area (they are at sea).

 

 

It is 500'

 

 

I don't think this guy has anything to worry about other than some overzealous eco nutcases.

 

General aviation doesn't need bad press, if indeed the NOAA and the local FSDO did ask pilots nicely not to mess with whales, than he shouldn't, whether it's a reg or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not an overzealous eco nutcase but I dont think he should be buzzing whales. How does he know how it is going to be affecting them?

 

I have heard that if you disturb certain species of whales away from their intended track in the water you can get in serious sh*t because is illegal to do so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15CFR922 pertains to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Aircraft operating above the sanctuary within 1,000 feet of any Humpback whale is prohibited.

 

This is the only regulation I can find pertaining to aircraft flying above whales.

 

At the present, I would say the pilot is not in violation; however, it is prudent to fly at a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above a wildlife refuge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The federal government has more than one agency with which to go after someone. Flying helicopters near SoCal whale waters, it is advisable to know about the Airborne Hunting Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and there are others

(see http://www.fws.gov/le/LawsTreaties/USStatute.htm ).

 

The FAA is the least of the subject pilot's concerns: he, and his lawyer, need to worry about what level of harassment the USFWS may ask the U.S. Attorney to allege (one low pass might be explained away via ignorance, but two will result in an investigation).

 

No matter the outcome, it will be expensive for that pilot.

 

Watch the whales from 1000 feet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have heard that if you disturb certain species of whales away from their intended track in the water you can get in serious sh*t because is illegal to do so.

 

This applies to boats operating in some areas of the northwest: they have a specific minimum distance, and can't act in a way that would cause them to alter their course. Doesn't appear to apply to aircraft.

 

I didn't see any whales in the video

 

They are there...mostly you can tell by all the people gawking at them.

 

Well, so far 6/6 that he's not breaking a reg. For some reason I can't embed this video, but here's a follow-up from King 5 on their regs where they interview somebody from the NOAA (but not the FAA). What got me interested in this was the statement in the initial report that the pilot was "blatantly violating the FARs."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't see any whales in the video

 

In the first few seconds of the video you can see one breach the water.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

They are there...mostly you can tell by all the people gawking at them.

 

 

Yep right in the beginning looked like one coming out of the water...didn't watch with sound so I couldn't hear people talking about them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The federal government has more than one agency with which to go after someone.

 

The question was if he was violating ANY regulations. The answer, I believe is best explained by amphibpilot.

 

When I had a commercial boat, we couldnt get within 1000 feet of a whale, they even had military choppers flying around to insure we didnt get too close. Once I was just putting along and a baby (about 30 feet long)popped up alongside my boat doing about 5 knots. I had to shut down both engines and just drift so I didnt harm it.

 

Back to the post, federal laws, state laws, local ordinances all can get you in trouble. Its not just part 91.

 

Goldy

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The federal government has more than one agency with which to go after someone. Flying helicopters near SoCal whale waters, it is advisable to know about the Airborne Hunting Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and there are others

(see http://www.fws.gov/le/LawsTreaties/USStatute.htm ).

 

The FAA is the least of the subject pilot's concerns: he, and his lawyer, need to worry about what level of harassment the USFWS may ask the U.S. Attorney to allege (one low pass might be explained away via ignorance, but two will result in an investigation).

 

No matter the outcome, it will be expensive for that pilot.

 

Watch the whales from 1000 feet.

 

You nailed it. Pilots can certainly violate other laws. You can't always hang your hat on the FAR. The Marine Mammal Protection Act, specifically mentions aircraft under "Level B harassment".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...