It's been recently reported that a man from California has pled guilty for hitting a police helicopter with his drone. Drone user Andrew Hernandez could now potentially be facing a fine of up to $250,000 and up to one year in a federal prison.
Hernandez flew his DJI Mavic Pro drone into a police helicopter in September last year. Hernandez was attempting to get a better view of a crime scene in Hollywood near his home. However, launching his drone into the air meant that he flew it directly into the flight path of a police helicopter.
• Read more: Best drones for beginners (opens in new tab)
As reported by (opens in new tab) The Verge, the helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing as a result of the incident. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the accident, but the incident could have been much worse if the drone had hit one of the helicopter's rotors.
Hernandez was charged in November after police were able to identify him through the memory card found in the drone. His sentencing is due to occur on 12 April 2021.
Many consumer level drones have a number of safety features built into them, mainly revolving around software that can prevent drones from flying up to certain heights or in certain restricted areas. However, these safety features can still be overridden by the user.
As drones become more and more popular, government bodies have had to develop more defined rules. Recently, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ratified its rules for drones and made them consistent (opens in new tab) across the whole EU. The US has also introduced more restrictions (opens in new tab) in recent years as well.