FAA Reiterates That Weaponized Drones Are a Bad Idea

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Back in July, we reported that Ohio-based flamethrower company Throwflame had launched a flamethrower designed to be attached to commercial drones. The TF-19 Wasp can shoot fire 25ft and, with its 1-gallon fuel capacity, offers 100 seconds of fire between gas refills.

That’s right: 100 seconds of fire from above. At the time we discussed whether a drone flamethrower was such a good idea. Although there are some niche commercial applications, these are arguably outweighed by the safety risks that come with operating a flying fire machine.

FAA: Weaponized drone could cause significant harm to people and your bank account

According to Throwflame, flamethrowers are not considered a firearm under federal law. However, the FAA has moved to clarify that notion in relation to drones with a recent statement.

“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items,” says the statement,

“Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”

According to the FAA, pilots with weaponized drones are subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 for per violation, unless the operator has received authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation in question.

Federal law defines “Dangerous Weapon” as any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury. We’re pretty sure that a flamethrower fits that criteria. But ironically, so could a drone – providing it’s big enough.

The full FAA statement is below: 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning the general public that it is illegal to operate a drone with a dangerous weapon attached.

Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.

Operating a drone that has a dangerous weapon attached to it is a violation of Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act enacted Oct. 5, 2018. Operators are subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the operator has received specific authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation. “Dangerous Weapon” means any item that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.

Operators should keep in mind that federal regulations and statutes that generally govern drone operations still apply. Some state and federal criminal laws regarding weapons and hazardous materials may also apply to drone operators or manufacturers involved in certain operations.” – Federal Aviation Administration.



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