MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Early Monday morning, a drone crashed on the White House grounds.
On Tuesday, we learned that a government worker has been operating the drone. He told investigators that he had been drinking before he lost control of the device.
The incident raises questions about drone guidelines and regulations.
There’s no question that interest in drones has taken off. The “unmanned aerial vehicles,” as they are technically referred to, have become more affordable for hobbyists.
“You order this, it comes. It’s all ready to fly,” EyeAerial owner Josh Kunze said.
EyeAerial in Zimmerman specializes in aerial photography, but that doesn’t mean they are free to go wherever they want.
It all comes down to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Within three miles of an airport, they don’t want you flying around that. Anywhere you can endanger public safety,” Kunze said.
That means drone hobbyists have to stick to uncontrolled airspace, which pretty much means rural areas. Downtown Minneapolis is off limits.
The drone also has to be in the operator’s line of sight at all times, and it can never fly higher than 400 feet.
The FAA is expected to issue more regulations this fall.
As he waits to see what changes will be made, Kunze’s business continues to fly high. He says his drones stick to what’s safe and what’s legal.
“Anywhere where there aren’t going to be a lot of obstacles or people or interference, like cell phone towers can cause issues with it,” he said. “Typically, when we go out it’s a nice, open area where you have a lot of visibility and you aren’t going to run into anything.”
Privacy laws also come into play. Many residential neighborhoods are off limits to drones.
Noise sensitive areas are also off limits, including schools, hospitals and churches.
A New York man’s drone crashed onto a sidewalk in Manhattan, and he was fined $2,000 by the FAA.