Navy sounds alarm over drones flying near bases, warns of dangers, penalties

Reports of unammned aircraft or drone sightings from pilots, citizens and law enforcment have increased dramatically over the last two years according to the Federal Aviation Administration, to the point where the agency is now receiving more than 100 suc

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The Navy is sounding new alarms tonight about the dangers of drones flying near miliary bases.

"It would be catastrophic," said Captain Rich Meadows, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Oceana. "We'd definitely lose that engine obviously. But we could lose the aircraft as well

Reports of unmanned aircraft or drone sightings from pilots, citizens and law enforcement have increased dramatically over the last two years according to the Federal Aviation Administration, to the point where the agency is now receiving more than 100 such reports per month.

According to the FAA, in the first three months of this year in Virginia alone, there were seven reports, including, drone sightings over Fort Belvoir, and Newport News Shipbuilding.

At Naval Air Station Oceana, last Thursday, one drone was seen over a hangar, another was spotted over the Navy Exchange.

In May, the Navy reported that a pilot observed a drone flying over the base's landing pattern

"It's really disruptive to our flight operations here at Oceana," said Meadows. "But in addition to that, it's a huge safety issue to have some of these drones up flying between 500 and 1,000 feet right in our flight patterns is extremely dangerous."

One of the main problems is, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or U-A-S's are really small, and hard to spot.

"We're used to looking up and providing visuals on both radar and contact  for the pilot to keep them safe, and with the UAS, you can't do that.," said Commander Chad Hunsucker, Oceana's Air Traffic Control Officer.

This is a very serious matter. Violators are subject to civil fines and criminal penalties. interfering with the flight of a Navy aircraft with reckless disregard for the safety of human life is a federal crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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