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Man who flew drone over large crowd ordered to make charitable donation

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Stock image.

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A man who broke Irish aviation regulations by flying a drone over a large crowd has been ordered to make a donation to charity.

Yesterday at the Dublin District Court, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) successfully brought a prosecution for a drone safety incident at a public demonstration outside the former Israeli embassy, on Pembroke Road, in May 2021.

The incident was first handled at the scene by gardaí, who detained the drone and advised the IAA of the infringements.

The defendant pleaded guilty and was give probation, with an order to contribute to the IAA’s legal costs and to make a charitable donation.

The IAA said despite his “significant experience” as a freelance filmmaker, the drone operator did not appreciate the safety risks posed to the crowd gathered underneath the device.

"Flying over an assembly of people is considered a particularly high-risk activity, as those in a crowd cannot safely move away if the drone malfunctions,” the IAA said in a statement.

Speaking in court, Judge Anthony Halpin emphasised the importance of being correctly licensed by the IAA when operating drones.

Meanwhile, the Aviation Regulator Diarmuid Ó Conghaile spoke of the need to ensure that public safety is maintained through the correct use of drones.

“As Ireland’s Aviation Regulator, the safety of the public is our priority. The onus is on those who operate drones to do so safely and within the scope of the law, which in this case is EU-wide and in force since the beginning of last year. Luckily no-one was injured in this instance and the operator has admitted he was at fault,” he said.

"The use of drones is growing all the time, and whilst we can educate people on the safety aspects of their use, drone pilots must understand that these operations come with risk. Had this pilot undertaken the necessary training, this incident is unlikely to have taken place. Cooperation between the Gardai and the IAA is invaluable in ensuring the safety of the public when it comes to aviation, as was seen in this case.”

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is a commercial semi-State company employing over 700 people at six locations around Ireland. It has two main functions, the regulation of the civil aviation industry in Ireland and the provision of air traffic management and related services in Irish controlled airspace.

As of December 31st 2020, the EU drone Regulation requires all drone operators using any drone over 250 grams, or those with a camera or sensor to be registered.

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