Drone maker will block DC flights after White House crash

Drone maker will block DC flights after White House crash

The manufacturer of a drone that crashed on the White house grounds this week will introduce technology to block its machines from flying around downtown Washington, it said on Wednesday.

DJI — which makes the $1,000 Phantom quadcopter found on White House grounds early Monday morning — said the move will prevent people from flying in areas that the Federal Aviation Administration has ruled off-limits.

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Under the new mandatory software update, the drones will not be able to take off from or fly into a zone that extends 15.5 miles out from downtown Washington in all directions.

“With the unmanned aerial systems community growing on a daily basis, we feel it is important to provide pilots additional tools to help them fly safely and responsibly,” spokesman Michael Perry said in a statement. “We will continue cooperating with regulators and lawmakers to ensure the skies stay safe and open for innovation."

Current FAA regulations make it illegal to fly a drone in Washington, even recreationally.

DJI has already programmed its machines to prevent them from flying into the airspace above many of the nation’s airports, which it imposes by keeping tabs on their GPS data.

The new update preventing flying around Washington is a continuation of those restrictions, the company said. Once the update is completed, drone pilots will be prevented from flying near the 10,000 airports around the country.

The early Monday morning crash of a DJI drone piloted by an off-duty intelligence agency official who had been drinking sparked new interest in the FAA’s drone oversight and prompted calls from President Obama and others for strong rules on companies using drones.