In the right hands, a drone can help repair a cell tower or assist a firefighter on a rescue mission, but the insurance industry is compiling a backlog of incidents where drones go bad, according to Insurance Business Magazine.
The FAA fined a recreational drone pilot $20,000 after he lost control while flying it in a Class B airspace near McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Although two miles away from the airport, the drone pilot lost control of his DJI Phantom 3 that wound up landing next to an active runway. He was charged with operating the whirlybird “carelessly and recklessly.”
FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said: “An incident like this could have resulted in a plane hitting the drone or in disruption of airport operations or in injuries to people walking on the strip if it had crashed there. It was very fortunate that it ended up crashing where it did and didn’t cause any damage or injury.”
In December of 2018, at London’s Gatwick Airport, two drones were operated maliciously to shut down a total of 1,000 flights over a three-day period that affected over 140,000 passengers just before Christmas. New anti-drone technology was used to bring them down safely by jamming the drone’s radio frequency. Insurers don’t recommend shooting them out of the sky due to the unpredictability of where they might land.
“Unauthorized operation of drones is a big issue at things like music festivals and concerts. People bring drones in their backpacks or they launch them from a nearby parking lot, and then they fly them illegally over crowds of people. That’s certainly a risk to the innocent bystanders that are underneath these drones,” stated James Van Meter, head of head of Aviation Programs and Product Development at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty that covers specialized industries.
As drones become more popular, protecting people from drone related mishaps is a growing industry. Anti-drone systems are another outgrowth industry sparked by the potential for drones to cause trouble.
“We’ve seen big public events like music concerts or the Super Bowl,” continued Van Meter, “Where the venues themselves are deploying anti-drone technology to keep drones away from airspace that they shouldn’t be operating in.”