Drones have been banned within a five mile radius of Georgia’s Capitol and enthusiasts are calling this an overreach by authorities. The officials, on the other hand, say that the ban is needed and that they are simply following federal guidelines.
The ban came from the Georgia Building Authority wherein unmanned aircraft systems are not allowed to go near a parking garage close to the state Capitol building which has a heliport. Flights over the governor’s mansion are prohibited as well, along with areas covering Georgia Tech’s Research Institute which happens to have an unmanned systems research as their central focus.
Paul Melvin, spokesman for the authority said, “The Georgia Building Authority’s concern had to do with the safety and security of Capitol Hill. There is an active heliport on Capitol Hill and GBA looked to guidelines of the (Federal Aviation Administration) for additional guidance.”
Greg McNeal who is Pepperdine University law professor and co-founder of AirMap which is a digital illustration that acts as a guide for drone users as to where they can fly drones said that the Georgia ban is “a stretch” but just the latest example.
“Why create a regulation so broad that most people will be ignoring it?” McNeal said. “I don’t think that breeds respect for the law; I think it just breeds contempt.”
This year alone, over 150 bills were introduced within 45 states that aim to regulate drone use. These cover things like the kinds of photos you are permitted to take as well as banning the use of drones in hunting or even fishing.
Other states want drones banned from going near their own Capitol buildings as well, with John Truscott of Michigan’s capitol being an example.
“Having unskilled pilots flying drones overhead is probably a public safety issue and we have a historic building,” he said. “Anyone who flies into it could do damage.”
At least with flying drones near airports, the rules from the FAA allow users to notify officials. The Georgia ban allows for now such allowance.
There has been an effort to accommodate drone use in terms of regulation though as a study relating to drones has been put in place and is expected to provide recommendations come December.
Rep. Kevin Tanner was the one who proposed the study and said, “I understand we need to protect our Capitol. There are so many nuances relating to drones and emerging technology that we need to take a real comprehensive look at what regulations and law changes need to be made to govern those.”