Virginia Looking to Tighten Up Drone Operation Rules
After two incidents of drones drifting into commercial airspace in Albemarle County, experts want drone operators to tighten up on rules to prevent these situations.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, says unmanned drones are drifting into commercial airspace all too often. It’s happened twice in Albemarle County and now experts are telling drone operators to tighten up on the rules to keep these dangerous situations from happening.
The FAA says pilots in Virginia have reported 17 accounts of unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, flying in or too close to commercial aircraft airspace.
Last fall, at least one pilot flying into Charlottesville Albemarle Airport reported a drone coming too close to the airplane. Around the same time, another report of a drone zooming across the nose of a jet happened in Albemarle County.
"You have to always make sure to be cognizant, to be aware, to be respectful of basically the swim lanes that already exist,” said Karen Jackson, Virginia Secretary of Technology.
Virginia doesn't have any laws regulating drones on top of the FAA’s strict guidelines.
"Anybody that buys a drone needs to register it. Anybody that's going to be flying it commercially needs to get certifications from the FAA,” Jackson stated.
Dave Canoles is a 35 year veteran air traffic controller. He encourages drone operators to research FAA rules and use apps that show if you're operating within five miles of an airport or how high an altitude your drone can go.
"FAA predicts there's going to be seven million units flying by 2020 and I think they can be safely integrated again if everybody plays by the rules,” Canoles said.
Virginia’s crime commission is looking at seven pieces of legislation brought forward in the recent General Assembly dealing with drones, but they are working to figure out if current laws already apply to unmanned aircraft.