UAS Makes Unwelcome Appearance at White House; Obama Responds

Posted by Betsy Lillian on January 27, 2015 No Comments
Categories : UAV Safety

An unmanned aerial system (UAS) belonging to a government employee landed on the lawn of the White House during the early hours of Monday, Jan. 26.

The U.S. Secret Service has since released a photo of the aircraft, a DJI Phantom model, which made its way over the fence around 3:00 a.m. when the operator “lost control of it,’ according to a New York Times report.
Because of its small size, the UAS was not detected by radar and, therefore, was able to fly onto the lawn before the Secret Service – who “heard and observed” it – could take action, the article says. After the government employee turned himself in around six hours later, the Secret Service investigated and believed the flight was purely recreational and did not pose a safety threat.
A separate Associated Press report gives President Barack Obama’s response to the incident: He acknowledged the potential of properly used UAS, which have “incredibly useful functions,” but said, “We don't yet have the legal structures and the architecture both globally and within individual countries to manage them the way that we need to.”
He added that he has asked agencies “to start talking to stakeholders” to create this “architecture,” or regulatory framework, to address safety and privacy concerns.
During the recent House hearing on UAS research and development, Jim Williams of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not give any timeline of when the draft rules for small UAS operations will be released.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., recently said in a statement that “federal bureaucracy has stood in the way of FAA drone rules” and that the lack of rules has led to confusion, abuses and other dangerous situations. “We cannot wait for a fatal crash or incident to get this done,” he warned.

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