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NYPD arrested two men for flying a drone close to police helicopter

The NYPD arrested two men, Wilkins Mendoza, 34, and 23 year old Remy Castro, in connection with a drone which flew about 800 feet from police helicopter on Monday.

The police pilot who reported the incident announced that the unmanned aircraft had gotten in the way of his chopper while flying around the George Washington Bridge just after midnight.

The guidelines governing flying of unmanned aircraft are very explicit about safety of property of state and individuals. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines recently published, rules that control the flight of conventional aircraft also apply to unmanned aircraft.

The rules forbid “any conduct that endangers individuals and property on the surface, other aircraft, or otherwise endangers the operation of other aircraft in the National Airspace System.”

Even though F.A.A. issues permits to fly recreational model airplanes, such craft should stay within sight of their pilots, and not interfering with manned airplanes.

The police are yet to specify what position was the drone during the encounter, a situation Daniel B. Schwarzbach, the executive director of Airborne Law Enforcement Association said is very important in determining how dangerous the situation was.

Schwarzbach reportedly said that the riskiest place for the intruding drone to be is in the front and even dangerous if above the police helicopter, maintaining that a distance of 800 feet “was not a lot of separation.” He added that “we support the use of this technology, but we support its responsible use.”

Christopher Wong, executive director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation, Law and Policy at New York University among other analysts said that “There are real tangible benefits to having unmanned aircraft, but what happened this week is a clear reminder that we’ve got a long way to go in balancing innovation with safety and privacy.”