Drones Near JFK Airport Spark Federal Terror Alert
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating four incidents in three days in New York and New Jersey where pilots reported seeing drones near their planes.
Hobbyists and drone experts, however, don’t think more drone regulation is the answer. Brendan Schulman, head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice at New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, says that “if you were to incorporate all of these technologies on consumer drones, I don’t know if they would be affordable anymore. And that’s going to put a lot of these new startups out of business.”
Jesse Kallman, director of business development and regulatory affairs for Airware, a San Francisco-based startup, says “education is the biggest thing we can do for the industry. Imposing a bunch of technology restrictions doesn’t make sense in a lot of cases.”
The Rules of the Air
All of these incidents highlight the importance of knowing the rules before you fly a drone. The FAA recently launched its “Know Before You Fly” campaign to help drone users understand where you can and can’t fly. The campaign isn’t endorsed by the FAA, but it has certainly backed it and encouraged users to check it out.
So here are the basics you need to know:
- You have to fly your drone below 400 feet at all times
- Don’t fly your drone beyond your line of sight
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of any airport
- Don’t fly near any manned aircraft
- Don’t fly within 25 feet of people
- Between an hour before and after an event, all aircraft aren’t allowed less than 3,000 feet above and within three miles of stadiums
- Don’t fly anything that weighs more than 55 pounds
- Don’t fly for payment or commercial services unless you’ve been authorized to do so by the FAA
- Don’t conduct surveillance or photograph people without their permission in areas where there is an expectation of privacy
- Don’t be reckless
- Do fly with local drone clubs
- Do inspect your drone before you fly
The FAA’s guidelines are in line with the National Model Aircraft Safety Code of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). It’s also not a bad idea to avoid flying near power lines, water treatment facilities, military bases, national parks, schools, heavily traveled roadways or government facilities.
These guidelines shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. When in doubt, check with local officials to get the OK to fly.