A committee within the Chicago City Council has approved new rules that would establish no-fly zones around Chicago airports in an effort to control where drones are allowed to fly. The devices are also prohibited from being piloted over schools, hospitals, churches, and near electric generation facilities. A close read of the rules suggests that hobbyist drone users may be limited to flying on their own property only.
The full City Council will vote on the rules later this month.
City and state governments are working to find policy solutions for drone use which has spiked in recent years as small quadcopters and other aerial vehicles grow in popularity.
As CivSource previously reported, in some cases the civilian use of drones can be dangerous as in the case of a teenaged-drone enthusiast in the forests of Clinton, Connecticut who fastened a handgun to a quadrotor, remotely triggering gunfire as the drone hovered.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has convened a six-state research block aimed at building comprehensive training and regulatory requirements that was meant to include civilian operators. That effort, however, was recently ramped up and new federal rules are expected on November 20. These rules will be the result of a joint task force convened by the FAA and the US Department of Transportation that includes representatives from the industry, government, and others. The accelerated timeline is the result of projected spike in retail sales of civilian drones during the holiday shopping season.
Observers are expecting a national registration system for civilian drone owners that would be retroactive in order to capture current as well as new pilots.