81ºF

No-fly zone within mile of MIA enforced for drones

Officials work to have tougher restrictions on drones in South Florida


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Drones are one of the fastest growing sectors of retail tech, and more and more people are buying drones because the prices keep dropping.

The Federal Aviation Administration is taking notice and getting the word out that there are rules while flying a drone.

"Miami is the fourth in the nation in drone incidents with aircraft within the past year," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said.

Aviation officials and politicians came together Friday to talk about new measures to keep drones away from airports and the traveling public safe.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said 44 million passengers travel through Miami International Airport each year and it is the No. 1 economic engine in Miami-Dade County. This has prompted officials to create what they are calling a "no drone zone."

"Our message will be clear: don't fly a drone within a mile of an airport. Don't fly a drone within a mile of an airport. Don't fly a drone within a mile of an airport," Gimenez repeated.

Nelson illustrated the dangers of drones by using the "miracle on the Hudson" flight as an example.

"If a seagull, which is flesh and blood and webbed feet, sucked into a jet engine can cause that airplane to come down, you can imagine what plastic and metal would do when sucked into a jet engine," Nelson said.

There are also technological solutions, like an invisible electronic fence that can kill or take over a drone if it enters restricted airspace. But deployment of those types of tools is well down the road, while the popularity of drones continues to soar.

"The FAA tells us in their most recent statistics (that) they have had over 700 sightings in the last 10 months around airports," MIA Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez said.

That includes a scare in the air over MIA Jan. 27 when an American Airlines pilot reported a drone crossing the plane's flight path at just 500 feet.

Drone pilots will also have to register their aircraft, and if they are caught flying in a no drone zone, they would face a $500 fine.

Officials are looking at more serious punishments, including criminal charges, in the future.