On Wednesday Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill to the New York City council seeking to ban all use of drones except those operated by police officers who obtain warrants. A second, parallel bill introduced by councilman Paul Vallone would place more stringent restrictions on drone use but stop short of banning drones for hobbyists and companies altogether. Both bills have been passed to the city’s committee on public safety.
An all-out ban on drones within the metropolis would be a quite wide-reaching step, especially as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seems poised to adopt more permissive rules, with respect to commercial interests in particular. Earlier this year, the FAA formally granted six Hollywood companies exemptions to drone ban rules. A couple of months later, the FAA granted similar exemptions for construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections.
Despite the FAA’s tentative steps towards drone regulation, pilots of planes and helicopters have reported increased sightings of drones in their airspace, and several near-collisions. 12 incidents of dangerous encounters between drones and planes in the New York and Newark areas have been reported in recent months. In addition, in 2011, a man was fined $10,000 by the FAA for flying a remote-controlled plane recklessly through New York City. However, the National Transportation Safety Board struck down that fine.
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