A video showing a drone flying dangerously close to a Frontier airlines plane has gone viral this weekend — and the drone community is rightfully freaking out.
The video starts fairly innocously with a shot of a city, until a Frontier Airlines jet enters the shot, approaching Last Vegas McCarran airport.
It is unclear who shot the video or when it was taken, but it was likely taken on a racing style FPV drone. A version of the video was captured and shared by Drone U.
FBI and police are investigating the incident, according to KNTV in Las Vegas.
“All UAS operators need to understand their aircraft, stay well-clear of manned aircraft and adhere to the law,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI.
The video could become a black eye on the drone industry, which has long struggled to overcome public fears that drones are dangerous and capably of crashing into manned aircraft.
And the drone industry, which has largely tried to avoid restrictions on piloting drones, fears that this video could be the turning point on the government further cracking down on where drones cannot fly.
“It can take one idiot like this to take down an entire hobby and/or livelihood,” pilot Bill Hawley wrote in a comment on the video. “What an idiot.”
But some people suspect the video may be fake.
“The plane casts no shadow on the ground and doesn’t seem to bend along with the barrel distortion of the fish eye lens,” wrote Ian Hudson in a comment on Drone U’s post.
“The jet wash would of blown that out of the sky,” said Vess Cooks in another comment. “Especially being it was blowing the air needed for lift for the drone. ”
Fake or not — a flight like that would be extremely dangerous and likely illegal. Commercial drone operators are not allowed to fly within five miles of an airport without explicit permission. Flights such as that one could come with criminal penalties of up to $250,000 in fines and three years in prison, according to the FAA’s site.
“No one should be flying in a careless and reckless manner and – importantly – all drone and model aircraft pilots must stay well clear of manned aircraft,” said Chad Budreau, Public Relations and Government Affairs Director for the Academy of Model Aeronautics. “Furthermore, anyone who violates aviation regulations or endangers public safety must be held accountable for their actions.”