DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A drone taking aerial photos near a southwest Ohio hospital delayed the landing of an emergency medical helicopter for nine minutes, but the health of the patient onboard wasn’t compromised, officials said.
Officials at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton said the man flying the drone Monday violated a Federal Aviation Administration guideline that a drone operator must be at least 400 feet away from a hospital. The man cooperated with hospital police and wasn’t arrested, but the hospital notified the FAA.
Experts say the incident highlights the need for the FAA to set new rules for people flying drones for personal and commercial use, according to the Dayton Daily News .
The man had been contracted by the nearby Montgomery County Fairgrounds to take aerial photos.
“When the (helicopter) is coming in to land, we’re trained to look for any obstacles,” said Beth Calcidise, program manager for CareFlight Air Mobile Services. “Our communications center notified the pilot and he had to circle ... before we could locate the gentleman.”
Monday’s incident was the second since April involving a CareFlight helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle. Last spring, a drone operator was arrested because officers said he ignored commands to ground it as a CareFlight helicopter was responding to an accident scene near Dayton.
The incident this week happened just before the start of a three-day Ohio conference on drone technology in Dayton that drew more than 700 people and 70 exhibitors across the United States, Israel, Mexico and Australia.
The FAA is under a congressional mandate to safely integrate drones into civilian manned airspace beginning in September 2015. The agency has chosen six sites across the country to begin tests.