RECENT SPATE OF DRONE INCIDENTS OVER SENSITIVE PUBLIC BUILDINGS IN CAPITAL REGION ILLUSTRATES NEED FOR ADDITIONAL DRONE SAFETY RULES; “GEO-FENCING” WOULD REQUIRE ALL DRONES BUILD INTO THEIR SOFTWARE PROHIBITION TECHNOLOGY THAT WILL PREVENT DRONES FROM FLYING NEAR SENSITIVE AREAS; SCHUMER PUSHES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REQUIRE GEO-FENCING & OTHER IMPORTANT SAFETY MEASURES; WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST RECKLESS DRONE USERS
Schumer Bill Would Require Safety Features, Like Geo-Fencing And Sense & Avoid Technology On All Drones; Would Improve The Ability Of Law Enforcement To Take Action Against Reckless Users By Making Drones Detectable And Identifiable To Pilots & Air Traffic Control
Recent Spate Of Drone Flights Over Sensitive Public Buildings Like Albany FBI Headquarters, Clinton Correctional Facility, & NYS Capitol Illustrates Need For Additional Drone Rules
Schumer: Law Is Needed To Ground Rogue Drones Being Used To Cause Public Harm
Standing at the Albany FBI Headquarters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged his colleagues in Congress to include his legislation that would require drone manufacturers to implement geo-fencing technology or other similar solutions on all drones, in the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. Schumer’s legislation, the Consumer Drone Safety Act, would also require other important drone safety measures, and would improve the ability of law enforcement to take action against reckless users and improve safety by ensuring drones are detectable and identifiable to pilots and air traffic controllers. Schumer cited the recent crash in Albany where a man crashed a drone into one of NYS Capitol’s chimneys as just one of many examples for why geo-fencing technology and other important safety features are needed for drones. Schumer introduced the Consumer Drone Safety Act with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
“There needs to be a clear strategy to address the dangers of reckless drone usage. If a drone crashed into a plane by finding its way onto an airport runway, or was able do harm by flying near highly populated areas and buildings, like the NYS Capitol and the Albany FBI Headquarters, we could see immeasurable damage done,” said Schumer. “That’s why I am urging my colleagues in Congress to include this geo-fencing legislation into the FAA reauthorization bill this fall. By putting strong safeguards in place, we can eliminate near misses and rogue drones from our skies while still allowing hobbyists to fly drones for recreation in safe places.”
Schumer was joined by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and Deputy Chief Bob Sears of the Albany Police Department.
Schumer said that while drones can provide recreational enjoyment, there is currently a lack of safeguards in place that help ensure drones do not endanger the general public by flying near airports, major sporting events, large parades and important buildings like New York State’s Capitol building and FBI Headquarters. Schumer said recent drone crashes and sightings in the Albany area prove that additional precautions are needed. Schumer’s push comes on the heels of a drone crashing into the NYS Capitol building’s chimney before falling off of the roof. Although no one was injured during the crash, Schumer said there were many instances in which people could have been seriously injured. There were also serious incidents in which drones were spotted flying dangerously close to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY as well as the Albany FBI Headquarters, where Schumer stood today.
That is why Schumer is urging Congress to include his legislation, which would require drone manufacturers to implement geo-fencing or other similar safety technology, in the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill. Geo-fencing and other similar technology limit where unauthorized drones can fly through the installation of built-in software, firmware and GPS tracking imbedded into the device. This kind of technology helps take human error out of the equation. By installing geo-fencing technology or similar measures, drone manufacturers can ensure that their devices are not flown near sensitive areas, such as the Albany International Airport, military bases throughout the region, or important and largely populated buildings like the New York State Capitol building and Albany’s FBI Headquarters. In light of these recent events, which have highlighted the need for stronger drone safety laws, Schumer urged his Senate colleagues to include his legislation – the Consumer Drone Safety Act – into this FAA reauthorization.
Manufacturers are already experimenting with placing geo-fencing or other similar technology into their drones, however, Schumer said that all manufacturers should be required to take all reasonable steps to implement the software right away, and that is why he is urging his colleagues in Congress to incorporate his legislation into the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill. In addition to keeping drones away from areas where large numbers of people could be hurt or law enforcement efforts thwarted, Schumer said that his legislation would also require that drones be detectable and identifiable to air traffic controllers and pilots. This is meant to prevent a collision between a pilot and a drone, a situation that could lead to deadly consequences. It will also help law enforcement locate reckless drone operators. Therefore, Schumer said this legislation could protect lives and ensure drones can be operated in a safe and secure manner.
Schumer said there have been incidents of drones coming too close to runways and important events and buildings in New York and around the country as well. For example, according to reports, there were several reported drone sightings by pilots this past summer that involved both JFK and Newark airports; the drones were at an altitude of 2,000-3,000 feet. In addition, the FAA recently reported pilot sightings of unmanned aircrafts have increased over the past year from a total of 238 in 2014 to more than 650 by August 9 2015. Schumer said these drone sightings are extremely troubling because a collision could put hundreds of airplane passengers and pilots in real danger. Just a few weeks ago, unauthorized drones were reported over the West Indian Day Parade in Manhattan and, in September, a drone crashed into the stands of Louis Armstrong Stadium during a U.S. Open match.
In February of this year, the FAA released its draft rule on drone safety. However, Schumer said that it does not go far enough because it does not require the use of geo-fencing technology and other important safety measures to virtually eliminate the chance of a drone causing a disaster and limiting where it can fly. Schumer said he proposed his legislation be incorporated into the reauthorization because it must move through Congress this spring. Addressing the increasing issue of reckless drone operations is necessary to keeping residents and businesses in the Capital Region and across NY State safe. Schumer said that this issue is far too important to wait on and Congress should act immediately to include it in the FAA reauthorization.