I-Team: FAA cracking down on drones flying near airports

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is ramping up efforts to crack down on the illegal flying of drones in controlled airspace, especially around airports.

"The FAA's focus is to educate recreational drone flyers about safe flying," spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told ABC11. "Education, outreach, and implementation of remote identification requirements are an effective strategy to address many concerns related to UAS operations on and around airports."

Passed by Congress late last year, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 adds new language to how, when, and where a person can fly drones for recreational purposes - and urges the FAA to roll out a new "aeronautical knowledge and safety test" that all pilots must pass in order to fly.

Previously, only commercial pilots were required to pass a test and obtain a license.

"Recreational drone flyers may continue to fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA," Bergen said. "However, they are now required to obtain prior authorization from the FAA before flying in controlled airspace around airports."

The FAA is also tasked with developing and testing technology that will detect and identify drones in flight and in real time.

A previous I-Team investigation in May 2018 found pilots in North Carolina increasingly worried about midair drone sightings, with one pilot likening those drone pilots to "drunk drivers." A follow-up I-Team Investigation earlier this spring showed midair drone sightings spiking 35 percent, and law enforcement having a tough time catching rogue pilots in the act.

A full list of the FAA laws and regulations related to drones can be found here.
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