Menu
Criminal charges filed against two LA drone pilots

Criminal charges filed against two LA drone pilots

They could face a stiff fine or jail time for breaking drone flight rules

The Los Angeles County District Attorney filed criminal cases against two drone pilots on Wednesday for allegedly flying their drones in controlled airspace.

The charges are the first under a new city ordinance that restricts drone flights to less than 400 feet, during daylight hours and not within 5 miles of an airport. The rules mirror Federal Aviation Administration regulations and carry a maximum penalty of up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison.

In each incident, the drones in question were spotted by a Los Angeles Police Dept. helicopter.

Both Michael Ponce, 20, and Arvel Chappell, 35, were charged with flying above 400 feet and within 5 miles of an airport. Chappell was also charged with flying at night.

In the first incident on Dec. 9, Ponce was allegedly observed flying a drone over Griffith Park, which is within three miles of a number of hospital heliports. Police met him in the park and seized his drone.

On the second incident, just three days later, Chappell allegedly was observed flying within a quarter of a mile of Hooper Heliport. That's not a great location to fly a drone, as it's the LAPD's downtown Los Angeles helicopter base. An LAPD helicopter coming in to land allegedly had to alter its flight path to avoid the drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been scrambling in recent months to educate drone pilots on the need to follow air safety flight rules after a spate of reports from pilots about high-flying drones.

In late December, the agency launched a drone registration program that asks pilots to register before flying. The program is primarily intended to be one of education and asks pilots to confirm they understand the basic rules of drone flight before completing the registration.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags drones

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments