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Could ‘Toy’ Drones Ground the Commercial UAS Sector?


Fans of the losing Los Angeles Rams weren’t the only ones to come away from the 2019 Super Bowl with an uneasy feeling. In the run-up to the game, federal law enforcement agents confiscated at least six drones operating in violation of FAA regulations. The pilots in question reportedly told FBI agents they were unaware of federal airspace rules. “It’s taken up a lot of time for our agents and law enforcement officers to be targeting these drones when they could be working on other security measures,” an FBI spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Frustration yesterday was at a very high level as we kept confiscating these drones.”

The arrests came after warnings about drones recently forced the cancellation of 43 flights at Newark Liberty International Airport and caused a 33-hour closure at London’s Gatwick Airport. According to an analysis by The Independent, the British news outlet, the latter incident cost airlines $64.5 million. These were hardly the first such events involving errant drones—from the one that crashed into the upper deck at Petco Park stadium in San Diego, Calif., to the drone that collided with a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter over New York Harbor.

For those of us who care about the hard-won safety of the U.S. aviation system, as well as the extraordinary potential of the fast-growing commercial drone sector, the time has come to accept an unfortunate truth: We are flirting with disaster by making Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) so accessible to untrained, unskilled, less- than-serious “pilots” who treat them as toys.

Read the full article in AviationPros here.

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