Drone racing is a high-tech sport sweeping across the United States. Millennials are rushing to become the next drone pilot building these fast and agile multi-rotor crafts in their parents’ basements.
All of these drones are controlled through FPV (First Person View) systems. FPV is a type of flying system where pilots use cameras to fly drones as if they were sitting in the cockpit. Some pilots fly using FPV monitors, whereas others use specialized goggles to give them a more immersive experience.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Michael Huerta said back in March 2017 that more than 777,000 drone registrations have been filed with the agency.
With that being said, the Federal Aviation Administration has created a list of rules called the Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107), which outlines what not to do while piloting a drone in U.S. airspace.
Granted, in the latest installment of absolute foolishness, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which someone piloted a racing drone feet from a jetliner on approach to land at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Ian Gregor, public affairs for the FAA Western-Pacific Region said, “We became aware of this incident this afternoon and we are investigating.”
A person who goes by the name, ‘James Jayo Older’ posted the video online to a Facebook group called “1% FPV.” In the post, he said, “Found the SD card.. 1%ers only.” The video shows the racing drone hovering in the flight path and then dive bombing the jetliner in a swoop maneuver.
By using landmarks in the video, the incident occurred approximately 3.14 miles away from McCarran International Airport, which could be a violation of FAA rules if the operator failed to the call air traffic control tower.
Nevertheless, dive bombing a jetliner is an unsafe practice, and the operator “could face fines from of up to $1,437 per violation, while businesses that fly unsafely can face fines of up to $32,666 per violation.,” said Las Vegas Now.
To make matters worse, the operator could also “face federal criminal penalties including fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years,” added Las Vegas Now.
Drone organizations have already condemned the incident.
“This pilot’s actions not only endangered the flying public but has the potential to discredit an entire sUAS industry,” Drone U said. “It is the opinion of Drone U and its members that the pilot receives swift and just punishment for this example of irresponsible and reckless flight. There is no excuse for this type of criminal behavior.”
“All drone and model aircraft pilots must stay well clear of manned aircraft. We condemn the type of operation depicted in this video,” said Chad Budreau, director of government affairs for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, in a statement.
“Anyone who violates aviation regulations or endangers public safety must be held accountable for their actions. We urge the FAA to take strong enforcement action against this drone pilot, and against any future violators,” he added.