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Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing 310

Posted by timothy
from the where-is-your-flightplan? dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes An air traffic control recording confirms that a New York Police Department helicopter flew at a drone hovering near the George Washington Bridge earlier this week—not the other way around. What's more, police had no idea what to charge the drone pilots with, and never appeared to fear a crash with the drone.
Two men were arrested Monday on felony reckless endangerment charges after the NYPD said the two flew their drone "very close" to a law enforcement chopper, causing the police helicopter to take evasive maneuvers. Air traffic control recordings suggest that only happened after the chopper pilot decided to chase the drone.
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Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing

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  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by sabri (584428) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:32PM (#47425883)

    How is it reckless endangerment when the police were supposed to be in the area and did their job by investigating something suspicious?

    Basic VFR separation guidelines still apply, even to a police helicopter.

  • Re:So (Score:3, Informative)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:01PM (#47426083) Journal

    We can't have the police lying on reports.

    Thanks for that. I needed a good laugh today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:13PM (#47426185)

    There's nothing to stop them or even discourage them doing so. In fact procedure often encourages lying to the populace.

    It's getting to the point where lethal force will be a justified response to ANY LEO approaching you, your family or your home. Sure it'll still be completely illegal, but from an ethical and survival standpoint, you're being approached by armored, heavily armed, trained forces hostile to any and all life not wearing a similar uniform.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:33PM (#47426349)
    The pilot also said that the drone accomplished a Mach 0.9 vertical ascent.
  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by sabri (584428) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:50PM (#47426471)

    Since I'm here, I'll point out that cops do the same thing on the ground.

    But they are not. And while they are police officers, they generally have no authority in the air. What flies in the air is all subject to the FAA and a regular officer (even those flying a police helicopter to assist ground units) are limited to FAA rules and regulations.

    Unlike ground vehicles, a police helicopter will not be exempt from FAA flight rules and regulations. If the pilot is flying VFR, he is to maintain VFR separation from other flying objects, whether they are in the air lawful or not. The reasoning behind this is obviously that if he fails to do so and somehow crashes into it, his badge will not protect anyone on the ground from getting hurt from the crashing helicopter or whatever object he flies into.

    Furthermore, his badge will give him police authority, but the FAA can simply revoke his pilot's license and ground him.

  • Jurisdiction (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @04:25PM (#47426709) Homepage

    I'm listening to the recording of the radio communications. The drone was over 2000' altitude. At first, the cops in the helicopter aren't sure what they're seeing, and they first think it's a fast-moving aircraft in a vertical climb, over the East River. It has red and green lights, like aircraft do. They ask La Guardia ATC radar what they're seeing. ATC isn't seeing it on radar. Then they get closer and see it's a drone of some kind. In a few minutes it's over the George Washington Bridge, miles from the East River.

    Once the guys who were operating them were caught, the cops are on the air discussing what to charge them with. The cops on the ground call them "tiny little toys". There's some discussion of "if it's over 1000', it's reckless". The cops aren't quite sure what to charge them with.

    The FAA can certainly have them prosecuted. They were operating a drone in class B controlled airspace. That's serious, and dumb. Here's the New York City airspace chart. [vfrmap.com] (Yes, there's actually a VFR corridor over the Hudson River; it's permitted to fly along the river at up to 1300' altitude. There used to be one over the East River, too, but after some jock slammed a light plane into a Manhattan apartment building [wikipedia.org] by going too fast there, it was closed to VFR traffic. These drone operators didn't stay in the VFR corridor, and probably had no clue where it was anyway.)

    The drone guys were lucky. LGA has two intersecting runways, 4-22 and 13-31. The one in use depends on wind direction. The approach to 13 and the departure from 31 are over where the drones were operating. LGA happened to be using 4-22 that day. If the other runway had been in use, there would have been a large plane in the area ever 45 seconds or so.

  • by Platinumrat (1166135) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:29PM (#47427275) Journal

    In Australia the doctrine is Police do not give chase, EVER! If the suspect's car starts speeding, they have strict protocols in place to back off, radio in the situation and follow from a safe distance

    Studies have shown that chasing only escalates the danger to property and the public. So the correct response, is to radio in for support and do everything to protect life and property. They can't really outrun a radio.

    There was a recent, going back a few years now, chase that took five days from when they first attempted to stop a car, to the actual capture. There were gaps, but police had photos, videos, registration plates and descriptions of the suspects. They knew it was only a matter of time before the suspects would be caught.

    And guess what, not a single shot was fired

  • by Aighearach (97333) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:48PM (#47427463) Homepage

    Helicopters might not be nearly as robust as you assume. They might in fact be very touchy, and prone to a wide variety of damage.

    And what if that down-draft flips the drone over and it catches an eddy? It could easily get blown up by air being forced down, even if most of the time it would get blown down.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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