Criminal, Careless or Clueless?
Imagine settling in for dinner on a Sunday evening when a drone comes careening through your dining room window. That’s exactly what happened to a New York City resident earlier this month.
The drone was being flown by a Swiss tourist wandering through mid-town when he lost control and it smashed through the apartment building window. Although the drone is considered a hobbyist drone, it still had enough power to shatter the glass and enter the building.
In a drone world, we categorize non-compliant dangerous drone operators as criminal, careless or clueless.
In this case the man behind the joystick was clueless to the restrictions imposed by New York City law stating that drones may not be operated over civilians or within five miles of an airport. Both of which rule out flying a drone in the Big Apple.
Accidents like this are on the rise.
According to the FAA, “Reports of unmanned aircraft (UAS) sightings from pilots, citizens and law enforcement have increased dramatically over the past two years.”
From 2014-2018 there were around 6,000 total drone sighting reports and now average around 100 reports per month. Although sightings are not always cause for alarm, they indicate that the skies are becoming more congested, increasing the odds for collision and other types of accidents.
In the case of Swiss tourist Paolo Prosetti, the Associated Press says he is being charged for criminal mischief and for causing $250 worth of personal property damage. Thankfully the incident was not catastrophic; but as drones proliferate we face the challenge that not all drone operators will take the time to study and understand restrictions in various flight environments, let alone know how to operate a drone safely. Like the national highway system that was developed nearly a century ago in our country, it will take time to understand traffic flow and volume and it will require thoughtful application both in developing and enforcing laws that keep us safe while promoting an open skyway for commerce and hobbyist operators alike.