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Drone Freaks Out Airline Pilot, Sparks Cry for Regulation

Former Staff Writer
2 min read

You can get a ticket for driving too fast. Or for jaywalking. But for flying your privately-owned drone too high or into restricted airspace? Nope. Not yet, anyway.

A private drone soaring within Los Angeles International Airport air space has local officials echoing a long-unanswered cry: that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issue clear and comprehensive operating rules regarding civilian use of the ubiquitous devices.

On August 4, a Canadian jetliner spotted a drone hovering at 4,000 feet, roughly 10 miles east of LAX, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The FAA states that small unmanned aircraft cannot fly higher than 400 feet. Moreover, the drone was located within LAX’s Class B airspace -- access to which requires a transponder and two-way communication capabilities, according to the Times.

Related: Forget Drones. 'RoboBees' and 'RoBirds' Take Flight.

However, FAA regulations only apply to the commercial use of drones -- and thus flights by private citizens are as yet unpunishable.

The LAX incident follows a similar legal stir in New York last month whereby two hobbyists were charged with criminal endangerment for flying their drones next to an NYPD helicopter. Though drones can only legally be used in New York City parks, the devices are becoming harder to regulate as they grow in prevalence and become more technologically advanced, according to The New York Post.

And last March, a drone came within 200 feet of a commercial flight as it approached New York City's John F. Kennedy airport, sparking an investigation by the FBI.

Though officials continue to demand stricter regulations, the FAA will likely miss its long-anticipated September 2015 deadline to decry drone laws. This is “due to unresolved technological, regulatory and privacy issues,” according to a recent report by the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General.

Related: Amazon Asks FAA Permission to Test Drones

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