A passenger aircraft approaching the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) last week was forced to maneuver to avoid a drone in its path, German news media is reporting. According to Brandenburg police, the drone in question was flying some 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above the premises of Tesla Gigafactory Berlin which is located close to the airport.
The incident took place on the morning of Saturday, May 14, when the crew of a passenger plane spotted a drone dangerously close to the airport. As a result, landings were prohibited for 30 minutes.
While neither the make of the drone nor its operator could be identified, police pointed out that the Tesla factory, who the drone appeared to be spying on, came under the airport no-fly zone.
Now, exemptions can be granted to drones flying under 164 feet (50 meters), but this incident will be investigated as “dangerous interference with air traffic” since the drone over the Tesla factory was flying at a prohibited altitude.
Drone flyovers of Tesla Gigafactory Berlin, as well as other production facilities, are nothing new. A teenager that goes by the name “Tesla Kid” on YouTube started flying drones over the Berlin Gigafactory when it was still under construction in 2020. At one point, the police almost arrested him for doing so, saying he did not have the necessary permission to fly. However, the incident caught Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s attention and he almost immediately permitted Tesla Kid to fly over the Gigafactory.
It’s not known whether any of the earlier drone flights have interfered with passenger aircraft traffic at BER airport, but it’s worth highlighting that new European drone regulations mandate all camera drones – even those with a take-off weight of under 250 grams – to be registered unless they are categorized as a “toy”.