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FAA Threatens Fines for Drones that Get in the Way of First Responders

Drones in Firefighting


FAA Threatens Fines for Drones that Get in the Way of First Responders


Journal Times reports says that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is asking drone operators to consider the consequences of flying an unauthorized drone that might be an interference for local, state and federal rescue and recovery missions and could subject users to significant fines if found impeding emergency response operations. The FAA warns of fines that may exceed $20,000 if unauthorized drones interfere with emergency response operations in the areas affected by Hurricane Michael.

Several aircraft conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes and flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Those who might encounter possible drone violations have been instructed to forward all cases involving interference with first responders to the FAA Chief Counsel’s office.

Drone operators can find all the rules and regulations for flying their unmanned aircraft at

Recognizing  that there were already 1 million active devices, with about 100,000 pilots having registered with the FAA, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao earlier this year announced the 10 partnerships to be part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program, she said the United States was at a “tipping” point with drones. “We’ve got to create a path forward for the safe integration of drones if our country is to remain a global aviation leader and reap the safety and economic benefits drones have to offer,” Chao said.

On October 5, President Trump signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, funding the FAA through 2023. The law contains several new measures that affect the security industry, as well as drone pilots in the United States. The Securing Industry Association (SIA) released an announcement outlining several provisions that will impact the security industry specifically. These include provisions related to the expansion of biometrics and other security technologies, use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants and new legal authority for using counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) in support of federal missions.

C-UAS and UAS Reforms include the Preventing Emerging Threats Act (a SIA 2018 policy priority), which:

  • Provides the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and DHS with new legal authority to counter UAS threats that pose a security threat to a “covered facility or asset.” DHS and DOJ can employ C-UAS measures — e.g., physical removal, GPS jamming, radio magnetic disruption — to protect critical infrastructure and other assets against unauthorized UAS.
  • The new law clarifies FAA has legal authority to regulate all UAS aircraft (which now includes hobbyist UAS).
  • Requires the FAA administrator to provide real time confirmation that an application has been received by FAA and provide the applicant with a status of the application in a timely manner.

Regulations are the need of the hour to help tackle unauthorised/illegal drone use anywhere in the world.

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "FAA Threatens Fines for Drones that Get in the Way of First Responders," in, October 17, 2018,

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