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Fort Wayne City Council considering drone rules for downtown, festivals

The Fort Wayne Police Department Air Support Team is working with council members on a new ordinance.

Posted: Apr 18, 2019 8:09 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2019 8:42 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Drone pilots could soon be subject to more regulations when it comes to flying downtown or at festivals across Fort Wayne this summer.

The Fort Wayne Police Department Air Support Team is working with council members on a new ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would not limit any flights downtown. Instead it would give law enforcement more authority in case something should happen.

"Our safety concerns are the greatest because of the high concentration of people," said Lt. Jonathan Bowers, FWPD Air Support Team.

The change would be minimal for drone pilots because the Federal Aviation Administration actually controls if flights are allowed or not.

The proposal going before city council would require pilots to at least give the city of Fort Wayne a heads up if they are flying downtown or at festivals.

"So we can make sure they know how to fly safely in those areas and deal with those folks when we do get complaints," said Bowers.

If approved, anyone looking to fly within 5500 feet of Superior Lofts will need to fill out a brief form that will be available on the city's website.

It would also apply to festivals outside of downtown, such as the Johnny Appleseed festival this fall.

Bowers said they noticed some issues with drones during last summer's festival season.

"Those folks were not aware of the safety issues they were creating. This is a way to get ahead of that problem this summer," he said.

If there are issues, under the proposal pilots could face anything from a warning to having their drone confiscated.

Bowers said he doesn't expect that to happen often.

"With an eye toward educating the public," Bowers said.

The ordinance is being introduced to city council next week.

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