Blumenthal calls for tighter drone regulations

A remote controlled 'drone' (file).

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Officials at Bradley International Airport say that last weekend a commercial pilot reported sighting a drone on his approach about 15 miles south of the airport. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots have reported over 650 drone sightings near planes and helicopters so far in 2015.  

“The numbers of incidents and sightings is quadrupling overe just the last 12 months,” said U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).

A New York-based pilot, who lives in Connecticut, says that a strike of a drone to the nose of a jetliner probably would not bring it down, but if it was ingested into an engine at approach altitude it would almost certainly cause a crash.

While the F.A.A. has issued rules for the commercial use of the high-flying video cameras, Blumenthal says there is a glaring gap in the rules.  

“Recreational drones, incredibly, are treated as model airplanes under the law,” he said.

“The F.A.A. has a really tough job. They’re charged with adequately regulating technology that is developing at an exponential rate.” said Ryan Kelly, the managing director of Portland-based Sky Eye Aerial Photography

Joined by two commercial pilots from Connecticut, Senator Blumenthal announced his support for the Consumer Drone Safety Act, which would enable restrictions on where, who, how, and when recreational drones can be used. It would also require high-tech drone protection for the area around airports.  

“Geo-fencing that would automatically prevent a drone from coming near an airport or other sensitive facilities,” the Senator said.

Senator Blumenthal says the current situation is like the wild west or like a big city where the streets have no traffic lights or speed limits.

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