Drone operators still breaking flight rules despite FAA mandated restrictions

- Unmanned aircraft systems commonly called drones are taking over the skies and right here in Charlotte many are being spotted in restricted areas.

Back in August of last year the Federal Aviation Administration put rules in effect for small unmanned aircraft systems.

“Up until middle of last year it was kind of the wild west of drone flying. Everybody was buying drones, flying drones, doing whatever they wanted,” said Dan Kerby FOX46 Operations Manager and licensed drone operator.

But FAA and CMPD reports show people aren’t following those rules. Recently, a drone came within 20 feet of a police helicopter. The drone was flying about 600 feet in the air and in restricted airspace.

“It could have been a catastrophic event for us,” said Sgt. Kenneth Anderson, CMPD Aviation Unit Supervisor.

Kerby said whether you are flying for commercial or personal use,  many of the rules are the same and you need to review them before flying.

“Ignorance of the rules is no excuse just like anything else. You’re going to be subject to those rules if you’re breaking them so if you interfere or break those rules you better be ready,” said Kerby.

According to rules on the FAA’s website, make sure you’re aircraft isn’t flying above 400 feet. You must fly during the day at speeds no higher than 100 miles per hour. You have to keep the drone in sight while you’re flying it and if you see a manned aircraft - get out of the way.

Additional rules include: Don’t fly near airports or restricted air space, don’t fly over groups of people, stadiums, or sporting events, don’t fly over emergency response areas like fires and never fly under the influence or from a moving vehicle.

“In Charlotte we have public parks that are drone friendly that are specifically built for hobbyists to go out and fly in,” said Kerby.

FOX is taking reporting to new heights with our very own drone, so be on the lookout for SKYFOX.

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