The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which someone apparently piloted a drone right above a jet landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
The KLAS TV station’s LasVegasNow.com website published video Thursday taken at an unknown time from a drone hovering over the city as a jet approaches and then passes underneath. The FAA said Friday it’s “aware of the incident and is investigating” but declined further comment.
You can watch the footage here.
Drones, piloted from the ground but providing an eye in the sky, promise new business opportunities for everybody from real estate photographers to oil refinery operators. And they can help police handle dangerous gunfire scenes. But anyone can buy one of the aircraft, and enforcing restrictions can be tough.
The Know Before You Fly website, from the FAA and drone and model aircraft groups, steers people toward 2,500 designated model aircraft flying sites. It can be tricky knowing where drone use is illegal, though. Airports are on the list, of course, but so are many military sites, US landmarks and the Super Bowl.
The FAA can fine individuals up to $1,437 for each violation of flight safety rules. Business’ fines can reach $32,666 per violation. Then there are criminal penalties of up to $250,000 in fines and three years in prison.
Remote-control aircraft have been around for decades, but drones are a novelty and add photos and videos into the mix. And the existing model-aircraft industry isn’t happy about the Las Vegas drone flight.
“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.”