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Ordinance governing drone usage seeks to boost public safety

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – People flying drones over the city could soon be subject to new rules and regulations.

An ordinance is set to be introduced to city council Tuesday.

Hobbyists and commercial users on a fairly routine basis put drones up in the air.

All unmanned aircraft system operators already have to obey laws, rules and “regs” set up by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The ordinance being presented to city council, if passed, would require drone operators to go online and file notice with the city before being allowed to fly within a 500 yard horizontal radius of public events like the Three Rivers Festival Parade and Johnny Appleseed Festival.

They would have to give similar notice before flying above the core of the city, identified as the Downtown Aerial District.

“We set about to try to find some sort of ordinance that would allow us both to educate the public as well as to maybe have some enforcement mechanisms to ensure safety of people when they’re downtown or at other city permitted public events,” said Lt. Jonathan Bowers, who heads up a drone division for Fort Wayne PD.

The main concern is that a drone could fly out of control and dive into a crowd, crashing into spectators.

Those wanting to fly over public events or downtown would have to fill out registration forms, saying who they are, the purpose of their flight, and, if they are a commercial user, provide FAA registration and pilot certificate numbers.

They also need to list the location where the operator will be set up on the ground.

Anyone found to be in violation of the ordinance is subject to fines up to $500 for each offense, and drones in some cases can be impounded for up to three business days in the interest of public safety.

As mentioned, some fines could come into play, but the registration itself involves no fee.

Some commercial drone operators have already grumbled about the added layer of regulation.

Paris McFarthing, who owns Phil’s Hobby Shop, and flies drones himself, doesn’t see much problem with the ordinance.

“It’s focused on the downtown area and public events, I think that’s the biggest thing to key in on, it doesn’t go beyond that, and supercede the FAA,” McFarthing said.

Discussion and votes on the drone ordinance are set to take place at city council’s meeting on Tuesday, May 14th.



Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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