FAA warns drone users not to interfere with Harvey response

FAA warns drone users not to interfere with Harvey response
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reminding drone users not to get in the way of Hurricane Harvey response efforts.

The aviation agency warned that unauthorized drone pilots flying near the disaster zone in Texas could be interfering with the U.S. National Guard, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Texas Military Department’s rescue and recovery missions, especially as evacuations escalate due to rising water.

“Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference,” the FAA said in a notice on Tuesday.

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The Texas Military Department said in an earlier tweet that they were seeing a number of civilian drones in the sky, which “pose EXTREME risks to our rescue pilots and crews in high need areas.”

Operators who interfere with emergency response operations could be subject to “significant fines,” the FAA said. Flying an unauthorized drone near the disaster area may violate federal, state or local laws and ordinances, even if a temporary flight restriction is not in place, the agency added.

The issue of drones getting in the way of emergency responders has long been a concern. Congress passed aviation legislation last year that included language to impose up to $20,000 in civil fines on drone operators who “knowingly or recklessly” fly too close to emergency responders.