F.A.A. addresses close encounters between drones, planes - FOX Carolina 21

F.A.A. addresses close encounters between drones, planes

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Drone (FOX Carolina 2/9/2016) Drone (FOX Carolina 2/9/2016)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Did you or someone you know get a drone for Christmas?

The popular devices are becoming more and more common and so are mid air encounters between drones and airplanes.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were 17 recent close encounters between high flying drones and airplanes in the Carolinas. One of those incidents happened in Greenville County. 

The studios of Pro Bros Productions has a fleet of drones.

Co-owner Sergio Loaiza says sometimes they use a drone to get a shot. 

“It brings a new dynamic to a marketing event," Loaiza said. 

But Loaiza says when it comes to flying his drones, it's all about safety.

“One person always mans the drone and the other person controls the camera its just a lot safer," Loaiza says. 

The FAA thinks you can never be to safe when it comes to drones. That’s why the agency launched a campaign called “Know Before You Fly” that provides information for new drone pilots.

The FAA even has an app that will let drone users know if it is legal to fly at their location.

From August 2014 to August 2015, pilots reported 17 mid-air encounters with drones to the FAA. That includes one in Greenville County where a plane flying more than 7,000 feet up came within 200 feet of a drone. 

The FAA says the maximum height a drone is allowed to go up is 400 feet, and must stay within eyesight.

“A drone strike can be very serious just like a bird strike can be serious to an aircraft," said Darwin Simpson, director of the Downtown Memorial Airport in Spartanburg. 

“If a drone penetrates a jet engine, it could destabilize a jet that’s coming in or taking off," Simpson said. 

He said luckily there have been no close calls at the Spartanburg airport, and he’d like to keep it that way.

“We would not want a drone responsible for an aircraft crash and we remind people they are strictly prohibited from flying in the airspace here at the airport,” Simpson said. 

Some high-end drones come programmed with software that won't allow them to take off near prohibited airspace, but until all drones have that safety feature the owners of Pro Bros recommend lots of practice. They offer classes here for new drone pilots.

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