The growing popularity of drones as a holiday gift has got the agency that leads New Jersey’s counterterrorism and cybersecurity efforts worried. The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) is both asking new pilots to familiarize themselves with aviation rules and safety guidelines, and cautioning the public to take heed of suspicious drone activities.
While NJOHSP acting director Laurie R. Doran agrees that drones are immersive tools that people can enjoy while participating in a variety of activities, including photography and flying as a hobby, she stresses it’s imperative drone owners maintain safety and security requirements of national airspace.
“Just as with public safety and commercial purposes, following aviation flight rules while operating drones recreationally is critical for safety. Recognizing and reporting improper use of drones is equally important, as threat actors may use them for terrorism-related activity,” Doran said at a press conference recently.
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She urged New Jersey residents to contact law enforcement agencies immediately “if you see some unusual modifications on those devices. Like, for example, say someone has a drone that has their lights on them taped over or they’re removed, or you see additional visible batteries attached or some visible loose wires.”
Doran further pointed out that prolonged hovering or a drone flying continually in a sensitive area may be “doing some kind of reconnaissance” and should also be reported.
While noting that drones may sometimes be flown with special permission in off-limits areas “such as during an air show or some outdoor sporting events like a game going on at Met Life stadium,” Doran was quick to remind people that they should call the authorities if they see someone operating a drone near an airport as well as “a lot of parks, almost all of them in New Jersey, you really can’t fly a drone there, certain landmarks, military bases, and prisons.”
It’s worth highlighting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has outlined several rules recreational operators must follow before and while flying a drone. These details cover the registration process, a mandatory recreational drone safety test, restricted and permitted flight times and locations, along with other requirements. Individuals violating any of these rules or operating in a dangerous manner may be subject to FAA enforcement action.
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