Thursday, August 13, 2015
FAA To Fine Users of Drones Flying Near Aircraft
The FAA said in an Aug. 12 press release that pilot reports of drones have increased dramatically over the past year, prompting the agency to again stress that "operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal." There are already restrictions on UAS in place that are generally quantifiable, such as staying below 400 ft agl and avoiding temporary flight restrictions and the 5-mile no-fly zone around an airport. However, it is less clear what constitutes a near-enough proximity to manned aircraft to warrant prosecution, particularly in uncontrolled airspace. Further, the agency told R&WI that many pilot reports cannot be verified since drones are particularly hard to identify in flight. As such, the FAA has issued guidance to law enforcement agencies on what to look for and how to report potentially illegal operations. Pilot reports of near misses are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In the meantime, the FAA urges drone operators in general to always give way to manned aircraft. The agency says unauthorized UAS operators may be subject to fines or even jail time.