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UAV Regulations May Be Dangerous to Drone Shooters

UAV Regulations May Be Dangerous to Drone Shooters

A man in Kentucky was arrested a few days ago for firing three shotgun rounds at a drone that was allegedly flying over his property. This is not the first such incident, and certainly won’t be the last. Unfortunately, until recently, UAV regulations have mostly failed to protect against drone enthusiasts’ interests. Even when their

A man in Kentucky was arrested a few days ago for firing three shotgun rounds at a drone that was allegedly flying over his property. This is not the first such incident, and certainly won’t be the last.

Unfortunately, until recently, UAV regulations have mostly failed to protect against drone enthusiasts’ interests. Even when their drones or other equipment have been intentionally damaged, drone owners have had little recourse through the law. So, we were relieved (and more than a little pleased) to read that Eric Joe was recently awarded $850 in damages when his hexacopter, which was hovering over Eric’s own property at the time, was shot down by his neighbor.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind if a neighbor shoots down your drone.

  1. Remain Professional and Avoid Confrontations: Don’t antagonize the shooter – he is armed after all! If the shooter is behaving in an unreasonable manner, leave the area as soon as you’ve gathered all the evidence you need to report the incident.
  2. Gather Evidence: If possible, and you don’t feel personally threatened, try to photograph the area and the damaged drone. Take time to pick up as much of your equipment as you can as it will help expedite your claim if you have insurance coverage for your drone.
  3. Inform the Police: Let them know about the incident and be sure to stress the fact that a weapon was discharged which damaged your drone. Police do not take the firing of weapons lightly, especially in populated areas.
  4. Pull Out Your Backup Drone: Many drone business owners keep a backup UAV in case a mishap of some sort renders their drone inoperable. If someone shoots down your drone and you do not have a backup, you may soon fall behind on your service contracts. As courts often demand that you submit your damaged drone as evidence, you may not be able to repair and continue work until a legal judgement is made. While purchasing a backup drone may be an expense you’d like to avoid, especially if you’re just starting a drone business, bear in mind that being without one may prove to be fatal blow to your enterprise.

Of course, while it’s important to protect your own equipment and receive compensation when you’re wronged, remember that you should refrain from flying your UAV over private property. Capturing images of places where people expect privacy (such as their backyards) may lead to the law going against you, which could mean the end of your drone business. It is even possible that under extreme circumstances, a person may be allowed to shoot your drone legally. If your drone puts a person in immediate danger (such as threat of an injury), that person may shoot down your drone in self-defense.

The upshot? Always keep a level head and be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

And in the meantime, weigh in on the debate about whether people should be able to shoot down a drone if it flies over their property.

Image via Flickr: Mitch Barrie

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