By 2020, there will be more than 7 million drones in U.S. skies alone. Hobby flying is booming. With ever greater numbers of untrained operators has come increasing numbers of accidents, as well as some hair-raising near-misses with commercial planes.
While some countries allow drone flight pretty much anywhere, many countries are quickly creating laws to limit their use. You don’t have to get the attention of your local aviation administration to land in jail. It could happen because you run afoul of non-drone laws. These include things like invasion of privacy and endangering the public.
If you want to avoid illegal usage, there are 8 clear scenarios to avoid.
It’s not possible to list every drone law, and every regulation — even in the US, much less in every country. But we can look at clear examples of reckless usage. Here are some of the cases that have gotten hobbyists drone users in a lot of trouble — in some cases, landing them in jail.
1. Freaking out politicians & celebrities
In 2013, an activist from Germany’s Pirate Party flew a drone up close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference.
The operator was apprehended, and detained by the police. He claimed he was just trying to take a close-up photo. Once the police determined he was not a threat, they released him.
Most small drones aren’t able to carry weapons, so that isn’t a primary concern. But they could still carry harmful substances that worry security teams. So flying close to politicians and other celebrities is a complete no-no, for obvious reasons.
Government security teams are similarly against flying drones near government buildings.
There have been multiple incidents of people flying too close to the White House, both intentionally and by accident. In 2015, a man was arrested for flying his drone in Lafayette Park. Incidents like this have resulted in drone detection equipment being tested in Washington, DC.
In the UK, drones must never be flown within 50 meters (164 feet) of vehicles, buildings, people, and structures. The primary motivation is safety; the secondary motivation is privacy. So all use in cities is totally forbidden in the UK. But even drone use in a relatively secluded area is likely to result in a visit to your local police station.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is actually considering relaxing laws on flying near people. It would still have to stay well above the person and at least 10 feet away horizontally. Also: this would apply only to very lightweight craft. Despite this, blanket laws prevent privacy invasion in many countries, including the US and most European Union states.
A drone that falls onto someone’s head is going to cause a serious injury, which is another good reason not to risk getting too close to people.
2. Doing illegal things
Sometimes, it’s not the drone that’ll get you arrested. It’s the stuff you attach to the drone. Delivering a large combination pizza by drone, okay. Delivering 5 grams of methamphetamine by drone, not okay.
Maryland police arrested two people for trying to smuggle drugs, pornography, and tobacco into a correctional institution via drone.
It was a creative attempt at getting contraband into jail, and one we’ll probably see repeated. But there is a simple rule here: if it is against the law without a drone, it’s still against the law with a drone.
3. Flying a Drone Near an Airport or Airfield
The US Federal Aviation Administration prohibits the use of any drone within 5 miles of an airport, unless you obtain permission from the airport tower first. This is called FAA-controlled airspace. If you’re not sure if you’re safely outside the FAA boundary, check on Airmap.io.
Read the rest: http://www.whoishostingthis.com/blog/2016/08/24/drone-jail/
Filed Under: Policy