Two Chicago aldermen (Alds. Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward and Ed Burke of the 14th Ward) have proposed a city ordinance restricting the use of drones, and drone operators have been invited to city hall tonight to demonstrate their drones to the aldermen and participate in hearings about the proposal.
The proposed ordinance mimics the current FAA proposal for drone registration, stating that an application containing the operator’s name, address, phone number, proof of insurance and drone serial number would be required. The application would take several weeks to process and would result in a licensing tag being sent back to the owner, much in the same way that cars or boats may be registered. The registration would be valid for one year, and would cost $50. to renew.
The insurance required would not be insignificant; the ordinance calls for owner to be insured for $ 100,000 for personal injury or death of one person; $300,000 for personal injury or death to more than one person in one accident, with a maximum of $100,000 for each person; and $50,000 for property damage. It also requires that the City of Chicago be named as an additional insured party.
Beyond registration and insurance, drone flight would be restricted. The ordinance states:
No person shall operate a small unmanned aircraft in city airspace:
- for the purpose of conducting surveillance, unless expressly permitted by law; or
- within five miles of an airport; or
- that is equipped with a firearn or other weapon; or
- with intent to use such small unmanned aircraft or anything attached to such small unmanned aircraft to cause harm to persons or property; or
- within one-quarter mile of any open air assembly unit, school, hospital or place of worship; or
- at any altitude higher than four-hundred feel above ground level; or
- outside the line of sight of the operator; or
- while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof, as those terms are defined in 625 ILCS 5/11 -501, as amended; or
- whenever weather conditions would impair the operator’s ability to do so safely; or
- between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
The ordinance allows for an exemption process for commercial operators.
With registration fees, insurance requirements, proposed fines of between $500 – $5000 or jail time of up to six months for infractions, and confiscation of rogue drones Chicago seems to be sending a clear message to drone operators that they aren’t welcome in city airspace. Let’s hope they can change the alderman’s minds when they fly tonight at City Hall.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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