Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Calif., the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has written a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta to urge the agency to require geo-fencing in civilian drones in order to prevent them from interfering in firefighting operations.
Schiff is recommending that as part of the finalization of regulations for small commercial drones, the FAA should consider requiring these technological measures that would prevent the operation of drones in a manner that interferes with first responders.
In the letter, Schiff writes as follows:
“As commercial drones become more widespread, the U.S. Forest Service and state forestry services are likely to experience an increase in civilian-operated drones interference with emergency first responders.
“We understand the FAA is in the process of finalizing rules to regulate the operation of small commercial drones, and we urge you to use this process to incorporate measures directed at preventing the operation of drones in a manner that interferes with first responders.
“Among the steps that we believe should be considered is the possibility of requiring technological measures, such as geo-fencing, in commercially available drones that prevent them from being flown within a geographic area where they are likely to interfere with firefighting activities.
“The FAA should also consider a campaign to ensure that civilian drone operators understand the dangers of operating drone in restricted airspace and the potential harm that this irresponsible behavior could cause.”