Drone pilot causes outrage with flight above airliner

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A drone pilot in the US has sparked outrage and condemnation from drone users and industry organisations after posting a video showing a brazen and dangerous flight manoeuvre this week.

The video was originally shared on a Facebook group called “1% FPV” by James Jayo Older, with the caption: “Found the SD card.. 1%ers only.” It was later uploaded to YouTube.

The footage shows a drone being launched into the air above McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas as an airliner approaches in the distance. As the plane, clearly identifiable as a Frontier Airlines Airbus, gets closer, the drone banks steeply to keep it in frame.

© YouTube
© YouTube

“By all appearances, this is clearly and explicitly an illegal and reckless flight by a drone,” writes Air Transport World. “The unmanned aircraft is above 400 ft., it is near an airport, and it is above another, manned aircraft—all gross violations of the rules that govern unmanned aviation.”

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents hobbyist pilots of drones and model airplanes, also condemned the flight: “No one should be flying in a careless and reckless manner and—importantly—all drone and model aircraft pilots must stay well clear of manned aircraft. We condemn the type of operation depicted in this video.”

In Australia, it is illegal to fly a drone closer than 5.5km from a controlled aerodrome (usually those with a control tower).

The Federal Aviation Administration has said it is aware of the video and is currently investigating. 

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