There have been somewhere around a dozen cases this summer of water-carrying aircraft having to turn back from a wildfire scene because a personal drone was flying nearby, filming it. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has sponsored a bill that would make such acts a felony with a possible 5-year prison sentence.
As I report in the Monitor today (right here), the would cover”disasters affecting federal property or “affecting interstate or foreign commerce.”
That could involve a train wreck or an accident on an interstate, since those are covered under interstate commerce, as well as a disaster such as a flood that affects federal property, like a local post office. As worded, the Wildfire and Emergency Airspace Protection Act would not outlaw all drone flights near such sites, only those judged by authorities to be “reckless” and which “interfere” with the emergency response. It would not affect drone flights near a building fire, unless it was a federal building, or around accidents on non-federal roads.
It’s all part of the complicated process of society figuring out how to deal with yet another new technology.