Nearly four months after the infamous quadcopter landing on the White House lawn, another small unmanned aircraft was reportedly spotted in the vicinity of the building on May 14.
According to the Washington Post, a 39-year-old man was flying a Parrot Bebop drone roughly 100 feet in the air at Lafayette Park, a public park next to the White House, when the Secret Service saw the operation.
The man was arrested by the park police, and the White House was put on lockdown before the drone was deemed unthreatening. The Parrot Bebop is a smartphone-controlled drone weighing in at around 400 g (under 1 lb.).
The day before the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration had just launched a new public outreach campaign to reinforce a “no drone zone” for the District of Columbia and cities and towns within a 15-mile radius of Ronald-Reagan Washington National Airport
“Federal rules prohibit any aircraft from operating in the Flight Restricted Zone around our nation’s capital without specific approval,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in the release. “That includes all unmanned aircraft.”
According to the FAA, the airspace around Washington, D.C., is more restricted than in any other part of the country. Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish “national defense airspace” over the area and limit aircraft operations to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators face stiff fines and criminal penalties, the agency says.
In January, a man was arrested for crashing a DJI Phantom quadcopter on the lawn of the White House in the middle of the night. Criminal charges were not pursued against him after authorities determined that the aircraft was not operating under the direction of its controller when it crashed.