There are places where you can fly drones legally, and there are places where you can fly them legally if you have a permit, and there are places where you can’t fly them at all. Just ask SkyPan, a drone film company who was recently hit with a proposed $1.9 million fine by the FAA for flying drones illegally in New York and Chicago.
Now we’re not sure if it was because of that or if it was already in the works, but the FAA has recently announced that they will now be testing technology that will allow them to trace the drones back to the owner. The testing of the technology will mainly target drones found to be flown near the airport, with the FAA claiming that one of the biggest challenges was attempting to locate the operator.
With this technology, what it does is that it attempts to track the radio signals used to operate the drones within a 5-mile radius to potentially identify where the drone owner might be. As it stands, the airport is a particularly dangerous zone as even though a drone might be relatively small and light compared to a plane, getting a drone sucked into the engine or smashing into the cockpit windshield could cause serious damage.
According to the FAA, the number of drone sightings by pilots has increased to about 100 a month, versus a handful per month that was reported last year.