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Charlotte Talks: Drones Creating Unwelcome Buzz For Regulators, Airlines

David T. Foster, III / The Charlotte Observer

Thursday, June 22, 2017

As more drones take flight, more problems arise. Mike Collins looks at drone regulations and confusion among some users about the rules of the skies.

Drones are becoming more prevalent in skies - more than 20,000 registered in North Carolina -  and close encounters with drones are becoming more frequent. Earlier this month, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police helicopter had a near-miss with a drone flying in uptown. Less than a week later, an airline crew reported a drone sighting on approach to Charlotte-Douglas airport.

It's illegal to fly drones near airports and in uptown, and a lack of understanding about the rules for flying drones is leading to potentially dangerous encounters. Drones that carry cameras and other instruments are supposed to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, but that doesn’t always happen. And hobbyists aren't required to register their drones at all. 

Enforcing regulations when drones are so readily available to the public isn’t easy. These unmanned aircraft are being used in many innovative ways including law enforcement, public safety, journalism, agriculture and more. But their popularity is out-pacing the rules regulating them.


David Boraks, WFAE reporter and drone owner (@davidboraks)

Ben Kreimer, head technologist, University of Nebraska Drone Journalism Lab (@benkreimer)

Basil Yap, North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation (@ncaviation)