If you’ve been strapping weapons to your drones it might be time to put that on hold. The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a statement explicitly restating their position on such activities. If you haven’t guessed yet, their position is that it is firmly illegal and comes with some steep fines. The FAA looks to be trying to clamp down on such questionable drone usage, and that’s probably for the best. If you’ve seen some of the examples out there of this, then you know just how crazy some of it can get.
The FAA writes, “Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items, Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.” Pretty cut and dry on their stance, not much room for interpretation there. If you’re attaching weapons to your drone you’re breaking the law, and the FAA is not going to like that and will potentially hit the offenders with hefty fines.
Safety Alert: The #FAA warns against attaching weapons to #drones. Operating a drone with a weapon attached is not only dangerous, it is illegal and violators could face significant civil penalties💲. #FlySafe https://t.co/cX82SAS3iD pic.twitter.com/APwEzSrIBe
— The FAA (@FAANews) 22 de agosto de 2019
In their statement they also attached what is their attempt at a meme. I suppose in an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd that probably isn’t very well versed in the various legalities surrounding drone use. A bit funny nonetheless, and interesting to see a government agency taking a more lighthearted approach.
To back it up, they cite a law that strictly forbids the use of dangerous weapons being attached to a drone. Violations of the law carry a hefty fine of up to $25,000 per incident. That’s a serious fine if you’re caught and prosecuted! The only way to get around this is to get explicit permission from an administrator at the FAA. I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to wager that the FAA doesn’t give out that permission lightly. For most people, weaponized drones are going to remain illegal and promise nothing but fines for those that still try.
In terms of what a “dangerous weapon” is, the FAA describes it as “any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury”. That’s pretty broad, and gives them a lot of leeway in what is a dangerous weapon. A simple butter knife could technically qualify under that definition, even if it’s not all that effective of a weapon.
While this might seem like a bit of a silly statement, if you’re not aware there are a ton of examples online of people weaponizing their drones. A quick search shows countless examples of everything from handguns to flamethrowers, and everything in between being strapped to drones.
There’s also some more tame examples out there. In one instance, a sharp knife attached to the bottom of a drone was used to slice fruit. While this seems like a pretty benign use, it’s still technically illegal according to the FAA. I suppose it’s good then that the FAA is taking a stand on this as I certainly don’t want my neighbors flying armed drones around my neighborhood.
While it will certainly be a shame to not see as many crazy contraptions and weapons strapped to drones, it’s probably for the best. Weaponized drones flying around is probably a public safety concern, so I can understand where the FAA is coming from on this one.