drone safety

Until now, drones have been largely free to operate in public places as long as they stay below 400 feet in relatively unpopulated areas and avoid full scale aircraft. Recent headlines tout a National Park Service temporary ban on drones but a lawyer who represents drone proponents says he expects that the ban will be “greatly narrowed” through the federal rule-making process and drones will be given free range in some national park-controlled locations “including things like beaches and forests.”2

Private drone operators are clearly a danger to the public. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, since November 2009, law enforcement agencies, universities and other registered drone users have reported 23 accidents and 236 unsafe incidents. And that doesn’t even count drones flown by amateur hobbyists, who have repeatedly crashed drones into skyscrapers and caused dozens of terrifying near-collisions with commercial airplanes.3

Even military-grade drones have an appalling safety record. According to a Washington Post investigation, military drones, more than 400 of which have crashed in major accidents since 2001, “have slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair. No one has died in a drone accident, but…many catastrophes have been narrowly averted, often by a few feet, or a few seconds, or pure luck.”4

1. Mark Berman, “National Park Service bans drone use in all national parks,” The Washington Post, June 20, 2014
2. Mike M. Ahlers, ”National Park Service bans drones over safety, noise worries,” CNN, June 21, 2014
3. Craig Whitlock, “Close encounters on rise as small drones gain in popularity,” The Washington Post, June 23, 2014
4. Craig Whitlock, “When drones fall from the sky,” The Washington Post, June 20, 2014

About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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