22News puts drone safety to the test

What rules and regulations you need to know about

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a booming industry that’s caused a lot of controversy and some close calls. Drones have become increasingly popular, so 22News put them to the test.

Drones are remote-controlled aircraft that can take video, mail packages, even help local police and fire departments.

“When I flew over the Essex disaster last year I was able to show the video and prevent the fire fighters from getting to close to a situation that was collapsing,” said Jeff Byrnes.  Byrnes, founder of Jeffrey B. Photography, used his drone last year to help firefighters examine the Essex House Hotel after the roof collapsed, and wiped out several floors.

Although, if not used properly, unmanned aircraft can be dangerous. They’ve been flown near commercial airplanes endangering passengers. One drone dropped in the middle of a sporting event. One person even strapped a handgun onto a drone in Connecticut, and there’s no law that makes it illegal.

“There are ones that are small enough where you can fly it around indoors and not get hurt, but then you get into the ones I use, and they can do some serious damage,” Byrnes told 22News.

Monday, the government announced a new drone task force. They’re designing new laws now, including, registering certain drones with the government, and deciding which ones can fly under the radar.

“It’s really hard to follow rules, if you don’t know what the rules are. So registration gives operators the opportunity to learn the airspace rules before they fly and enjoy their devices safely,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Registering drones also means the government can determine who’s at fault when people use them illegally. As of now, drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet, or be within 25 feet of a person’s property, or moving vehicles. There’s also five miles of restricted airspace surrounding commercial and military airports.

The government predicts 700,000 drones will be sold during the holidays. That’s why their updated rules and regulations are due by November 20th.

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