Days after a video went viral for flying dangerously close to a Frontier airlines plane, the drone community is begging the Federal Aviation Administration to find the pilot and take legal action.
The video starts fairly innocuously with a shot of a city, until a Frontier Airlines jet enters the shot, approaching Last Vegas McCarran airport. The video could become a black eye on the drone industry, which has long struggled to overcome public fears that drones are dangerous and capably of crashing into manned aircraft.
Now, major stakeholders in the drone industry signed an open letter on Tuesday to the FAA, asking for the FAA to “use its full authority to investigate, identify and apprehend” the Vegas drone pilot.
The letter was signed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Aerospace Industries Association, AUVSI, Aerospace States Association, Commercial Drone Alliance, Consumer Technology Association, Drone Manufacturers Alliance, Drone User Group Network, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Press Photographers Association and the Small UAV Coalition.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Elwell:
We are deeply concerned about a recent video that was posted on the internet that shows an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flying directly above an airliner making its final approach at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.
This action by the UAS operator was not just irresponsible and in clear violation of both the FAA’s Special Rule for Model Aircraft, 14 CFR, 101, Subpart E and Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations, but it also endangered the airspace and created the real risk of a midair collision with a passenger jet.
This careless and reckless behavior endangers the safety of our airspace for all users – both manned and unmanned. We urge the FAA to use its full authority to investigate, identify, and apprehend the operator of this
UAS flight and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. We also encourage the FAA to work with law enforcement in Las Vegas and Nevada to pursue all applicable charges within their authority.
Strict enforcement will not only punish the operator responsible for this unacceptable and reprehensible action, it will also serve as a deterrent to others for misusing UAS technology and create accountability among UAS operators. Collaboratively, our organizations will continue to educate UAS operators about where they should and should not fly to help prevent similar incidents in the future. We will also continue to work closely with the FAA to develop and deploy remote identification and tracking to ensure our airspace remains safe and secure.