The San Francisco Police Department and the FAA will establish a “No Drone Zone” within five nautical miles of the center point of the city’s Fleet Week air show, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The No Drone Zone will be established Thursday through Sunday during the day, with offenders facing a fine up to $10,000.
The Fleet Week event celebrates the U.S.’s armed forces, with a three-day long air show as the centerpiece of the festivities. Drones — or perhaps more accurately, a small group of logic-challenged pilots and their drones — have made headlines recently for interfering dangerously with commercial airliners and forest fire fighting.
Most notably, drones interfered with the fire fighting efforts of planes dispatched to put out a Southern California fire that burned homes and cars, causing significant property damage. Like birds, drones pose a hazard to large aircraft in that they could collide, causing the large aircraft to crash.
In the case of the Southern California fire, drones delayed the fire fighting efforts by 15 to 20 minutes, officials told NBC News.
Pilots performing in an air show, and the spectators below them, shouldn’t need to worry about errant drones that can do significant damage, which is why the San Francisco Police and the FAA are taking this issue so seriously.
The only potential problem with this plan is that drones are difficult to regulate. Regulatory bodies can arm themselves with $10,000 fines, but there’s no central tracking system for drones and they can escape quickly after being detected. A drone operator could be miles away, making the process of actually imposing that fine quite difficult.
This problem is far from unique to this particular event. It’s the reason why there have been so many cases of drones interfering with fire fighting and air traffic at major airports. Regulatory systems proposed by a NASA/Verizon partnership and Amazon would have all drones connected to the Internet so they can be “geofenced,” but the adoption of such a system would be a handful of years away at the earliest.
For San Francisco’s Fleet Week, the best anyone can hope for is the massive fine scaring sense into otherwise senseless drone operators.