Commercial Drone Alliance Condemns Reckless Drone Operation Over Las Vegas

Commercial Drone Alliance Condemns Reckless Drone Operation Over Las Vegas

Video of Dangerous UAS Operation Reaffirms Need for Remote UAS ID and Tracking


Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley, California, February 7, 2018 – The Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent 501c6 non-profit led by key figures of the commercial drone industry, strongly condemns what appears to be the reckless and potentially catastrophic actions of a UAS operator who recently piloted a drone dangerously close to a commercial airliner on approach to McCarran Las Vegas International Airport as depicted in a video posted online. In response, the Commercial Drone Alliance this week joined industry groups in calling for the FAA to launch an investigation, to verify the authenticity of the video, and, if appropriate, apprehend the operator of the UAS flight, and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.


This incident provides a clear example of the pressing need for a comprehensive remote identification and tracking regulatory framework.  To integrate the airspace in a way that is safe and secure, basic “rules of the road” are necessary.  Just like the highways we traverse every day in cars and trucks, it is critical that all vehicles navigating “highways in the sky” participate in the broader drone ecosystem.  Policy and regulations defining these rules of the road, combined with technology able to assign drones a “license plate,” are a necessary step to meet the security and public safety needs of the law enforcement, national security communities and the general public.


The Alliance supports a common-sense, weight-based threshold for remote ID and tracking: as a rule, any UAS or model aircraft weighing 250 grams or more would have to comply with the ID and tracking regulations. Requiring remote ID and tracking for UAS over 250 grams is comprehensive, tracks with existing UAS registration requirements, and encompasses the majority of UAS except for very small and unsophisticated UAS that do not pose the kind of threat to manned aircraft seen in the video (although they could nevertheless jeopardize safety). As the Alliance has strongly urged previously, any remote ID and tracking solution must be simple, sustainable and scalable. 


With a comprehensive remote identification and tracking regulatory framework in place, coupled with a robust and automated Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) system, it is likely that the rogue UAS operator could have been remotely identified and then tracked, allowing the appropriate authorities to apprehend the operator. We urge the FAA to accelerate the development of a complete framework for remote identification and tracking in order to ensure that our National Airspace System remains safe and secure from rogue drone operations.


Notably, legislation is also necessary to enable the FAA to properly regulate remote identification and tracking of drones. Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which carves out qualifying model aircraft from regulation, is outdated. Lawmakers must eliminate, and at the very least amend, Section 336 in order to enable the FAA to require positive ID and tracking in a common sense way.


The Alliance looks forward to working with the FAA, national security agencies and legislators on remote identification and tracking issues during the next stage of rulemaking, and will continue to provide input and formal comments at the appropriate time.



About the Commercial Drone Alliance

Founded in 2016, the Commercial Drone Alliance is an independent 501c6 non-profit led by the commercial drone industry co-located in Silicon Valley, CA and Washington, DC. The overarching vision of the Alliance is to support commercial enterprise end users and assist them with adopting drone technology into their businesses, reducing barriers to entry, addressing public education, and merging policy with innovation to create relevant rules for operation.