Our neighbor to the north was home to a drone-related milestone last week, as a drone collided with a commercial aircraft in Canadian airspace. This is the first time such an incident has occurred in North America.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau was relieved that the plane only sustained minor damage, but said the incident never should have happened. "That drone should not have been there."
According to the New York Post, despite reports by pilots claiming that drones have crashed into their planes, the FAA has not verified any such accidents.
It’s obvious why such accidents are of concern to the FAA and other public safety entities, but what does the increasing presence of drones in the sky mean for the residents of New York City?
A recent local incident made it clear that drones are here and it’s time to understand the implications. On September 21, a drone crashed into an Army helicopter while flying over Staten Island. The helicopter was able to land safely despite sustaining rotor damage.
What are New York’s rules for drone usage?
Flying drones in New York City is illegal, with a few exceptions. In fact, the city’s website offers the following advice: "If you see a drone being flown in the City, call 911."
Calling an emergency number to report a drone may seem drastic, but the unmanned aerial vehicles are capable of causing accidents that result in serious injury and death.
So, what is a drone enthusiast in New York City to do? Luckily, there are some places in or near the city where you can legally fly your drone. According to the blog New York Drone Law, the New York City Parks Department has designated five parks as places where model aircraft, drones, and other unmanned aerial vehicles can be enjoyed by hobbyists and flight enthusiasts.
These parks include:
- Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens
- Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn
- Marine Park in Brooklyn
- Forest Park in Queens
- LaTourette Park in Staten Island
You may have noticed none of these parks are in Manhattan. That is because drones, model aircraft, and similar vehicles are banned in all of Manhattan.
Are you covered in the event of a drone-related injury?
Limiting the airspace where drones are allowed should go a long way toward reducing accidents, but it won’t stop people from flying them illegally in Manhattan or venturing out of the airspace of approved parks.
Whether or not you’re covered will come down to your insurance policy or the policy of the drone’s "pilot". Many homeowner’s policies will cover damage caused by drones, including bodily injury and property damage. If the policy does not contain coverage or the operator of the drone is uninsured, the situation becomes much more complicated.
One thing is certain: a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can inform you of your rights if you or a loved one is injured in a drone accident, and help you pursue any available coverage.