Can You Shoot Down A Drone in Arkansas?
In the wake of a 2016 Arkansas drone shooting in Norfork, Arkansas, many inside and out of the drone community are wondering whether UAV Drones are federally protected from criminal destruction just like manned aircraft. Since the FAA considers drones to be aircraft, it makes sense that they would have the same federal protections as manned aircraft since the FAA holds their operation to many of the same standards.
As of April 2016, the has FAA confirmed that shooting down a drone is a federal crime and cited 18 USC 32. That statute makes it a felony to damage or destroy an aircraft.
According to Loretta Alkalay, an aviation attorney who teaches Drone Law at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, the statute also prohibits interfering with anyone “engaged in the authorized operation of such aircraft” and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Since drones are considered aircraft, threatening a drone or a drone operator, according to Ms. Alkalay, would also be a federal crime subject to five years in prison under this same statute.
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